Dealing with car dealers (very long and possibly boring and/or confusing)

Discussion in 'Off Topic [BG]' started by viribus, Jun 19, 2019.

  1. Yes. Your word is your bond.

    1 vote(s)
  2. No. It's just business.

    11 vote(s)
  3. It depends on whether Dealer #2 offered you a bushel of carrots as part of the deal.

    0 vote(s)
  1. viribus

    viribus Gold Supporting Member

    Jan 1, 2011
    Pacific Northwest
    I never actually learned to play very well
    I decided I'm going to buy a new car. I figure it may be the last ICE-powered vehicle I ever buy so I want one with certain exact options and in a specific color. And with a manual transmission. It exists but it's hard to find.

    I buy and sell cars like most people, well, fill in the cliché. The two different dealers in question know me by name and they know when we agree on the numbers and I say Yes, I mean Yes. There are zero problems with creditworthiness or anything else. They don't require a deposit or anything else from me other than my word.

    Sidebar: New car dealers have "sales people" whose job is basically to greet and assist customers with their questions and things like test drives. By and large the "sales people" are young and hungry. They make something like $250 on a new car sale, over and above whatever their base salary is. But they are not the deciders on anything related to pricing on trade-ins or the new vehicle. Only a manager can do that.

    Neither of these dealers is high pressure in any way. But at the end of the day they want to sell cars.

    Dealer #1 is about 35 miles away. I exchange emails with Sales Guy #1 and there is quick agreement on the numbers. The last thing Sales Guy #1 says is "If we can do that price, would you do the deal today?" I say Yes. This is key because it implies they can get the car very quickly.

    But a couple days go by and I hear nothing.

    I'm antsy so I contact Dealer #2 , which is local. They quickly agree to the same deal, but again they don't have the exact car. A couple days go by, nothing. Nada. Also nothing from Dealer #1.

    I text Sales Guy #2 asking only half-jokingly if they really want to sell me a car. He assures me they do and that a sales manager will call me. A day goes by, nothing. Sales guy texts me: "Did a manager call you?" No. "Well let me try my other manager".

    The next morning I get a text from Manager #2 saying "I'm going to try again to find the car." Day ends, nothing. At this point I'm left wondering if my texts smell bad or something.

    The following day, Sales Guy #2 texts me: "The manager says we just ordered the car. It will probably be here sometime in August." I think Well ok, that's the best that I can hope for.

    I inform Sales Guy #1 that because they kind of left me hanging, I made other arrangements (with Dealer #2). Well that lit a big fire under Dealer #1. Sales Mgr. #1 and Sales Guy #1 both call me and apologize profusely for leaving me in the dark. Sales Mgr. #1 says "We will get back to you within two hours with something one way or the other."

    An hour later Sales Guy #1 calls and says "We talked to our factory sales rep and they are diverting a car here for you. It will arrive by July 10th." They text me a photo of a computer screen showing all the info including my name on the inbound car.

    Now at this point I consider the deal with Dealer #1 to be good as gold, unless of course the car doesn't arrive as promised.

    Right after this, Sales Guy #2 texts me: "We're still working on getting the car, no firm ETA." I text him back that Dealer #1 can get the car by July 10th and I've committed to that one. I thank him for his time etc.

    I could sense Sales Guy #2's disappointment at losing the commission over the phone.

    Did I do anything wrong? If Dealer #2 says "Sometime in August" and I say Yes, but then Dealer #1 says "July 10th" and they offer proof of that date and I say Yes, have I kind of screwed over Dealer #2?

    I say it's all business. It's cars. If they "special order" a car for a customer but it's 2 months out, and meanwhile the customer finds that car someplace else available in less than 1 month, no harm no foul because the other dealer will eventually sell the "special order" car to someone.

    Well I did say this would be kind of long.
  2. buldog5151bass

    buldog5151bass Kibble, milkbones, and P Basses. And redheads.

    Oct 22, 2003
    Nothing bad that I see. You didn't ask them to order special, you didn't sign anything, and they were jerking you around.
    Clark Dark, pioneerp61 and blastoff99 like this.
  3. two fingers

    two fingers Opinionated blowhard. But not mad about it. Inactive

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    They would not have officially ordered your car at dealer #2 without some sort of paperwork.... ever. So the only thing they have invested in you is a little time texting.....

    (Really? Selling CARS via text???? Oy.)

    ....and calling the factory.

    Honestly? Not hearing from either as long as they waited to get back to you would have knocked them BOTH off my lost of possibilities.

    Short version: Nope. You're good.
    kobass and buldog5151bass like this.
  4. charlie monroe

    charlie monroe Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 14, 2011
    Buffalo, NY
    I think you are more wrong than right, but I wouldn’t tar and feather you over it.

    This is why I get sign offs before I lift a finger for my customers.

    edit: if you spec’d a manual tranny in a sedan and not a coupe, it looks a little worse for you.
    Last edited: Jun 19, 2019
    two fingers likes this.
  5. viribus

    viribus Gold Supporting Member

    Jan 1, 2011
    Pacific Northwest
    I never actually learned to play very well
    Dealer #1 is part of a large regional chain of new car dealers. They sell many brands of cars. It seems conceivable to me that they could get a distributor to divert a specific unsold car to one of their lots on request.

    Dealer #2 is a single location. They might not have as much persuasion power when it comes to begging for a certain car.

    Also, it's my feeling that Sales Guy #2 was let down by his two managers. Neither of them picked up the phone to talk to me and they dragged their feet. When you have a fish on the line, reel it in.
    Clark Dark likes this.
  6. viribus

    viribus Gold Supporting Member

    Jan 1, 2011
    Pacific Northwest
    I never actually learned to play very well
    I’m a very atypical car buyer. Also as I noted both dealers know me well and they’re usually pretty transparent about things.

    New car dealers trade cars with other regional dealers all the time. The car in question will essentially be available to every dealer in Oregon and Washington. It’s in high demand and short supply. Hence the wait to get one.
  7. charlie monroe

    charlie monroe Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 14, 2011
    Buffalo, NY
    Fair enough. I stand by my comments.
    OldDog52 likes this.
  8. Pretty simple. You did nothing wrong or unethical. Dealer #1 did their research and found an existing car that meets your requirements. Dealer #2 did not.
    Indiana Mike, pcake and OldDog52 like this.
  9. hbarcat

    hbarcat Supporting Member

    Aug 24, 2006
    Rochelle, Illinois
    I was once a car salesman (a long time ago) and it was so common for customers to verbally commit to buying a vehicle only to suddenly back out that we didn't even notice anymore when it happened.

    Unless you commit in writing to buy their car, don't worry about backing out.

    That's assuming you aren't being intentionally dishonest. In your situation, you did the best you could to find the car you wanted in spite of lack of feedback from sales staff. I'd say you're good.
    Last edited: Jun 19, 2019
    OldDog52 likes this.
  10. It sounds like you broke a verbal contract to buy a certain car at a certain price. No wonder you are perturbed.

    On the other hand, playing off dealers against one another is about the only card the buyer holds. You slightly over played it imo but they all let you away with doing that.

    No harm except next time you are probably going to have to go in and sign off before anything happens in the way of ordering. It would not surprise if nothing had happened at #2 end beyond checking on availability per @hbarcat assertion.
  11. Dealer #1 also overplayed his hand by putting your details into the system with only a verbal contract.

    Considering #2 did not actually have a car to sell you I think you are well off the hook and never really on it, just sniffing bait.
    blastoff99 likes this.
  12. viribus

    viribus Gold Supporting Member

    Jan 1, 2011
    Pacific Northwest
    I never actually learned to play very well
    If they get the car reasonably close to the promised date, and at the promised price, it’s mine. That’s what I told them. I’m not changing my mind. OTOH, if I think they’re jerking me around by, say, making up bogus delivery dates, I’m out. As noted, I have a very good history with both these dealers and I know the people involved on a business-personal let’s go get a beer level.
  13. blastoff99

    blastoff99 Moderators Local A440 Staff Member Gold Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Dec 17, 2011
    Under the flight path
    I used to be one of those car salesmen making $250 for a sale, or sometimes better. I know how this works.

    Dealer #1 dropped the ball. It's the salesman's job to say 'If I can do these numbers will you do the deal today,' whether or not he actually can lay hands on the car. It's the manager's job to figure out the minor detail of not having the car sitting right there in front of them. It's possible that the (young, hungry) salesman didn't realize how much of a unicorn you wanted, but the manager certainly did - and should have contacted you promptly to say 'Ok, I'm gonna find that car and will get back to you tomorrow when I know more about how this is going to go.'

    But he didn't. Four or so days is waaaaay too long to not communicate with a customer, even if that customer wants to buy a floormat via special order, much less a car costing tens of thousands of dollars. You were totally within bounds to move on to Dealer #2. Dealer #2 was only slightly more responsive after they'd agreed to the same deal, but then swung too far the other way by ordering a car without telling you that's what they were going to do. I mean, that's just not something dealers do. While it's very possible to factory order from some manufacturers, the sales manager is going to do it with the customer sitting in the showroom and having signed some sort of piece of paper even if it isn't legally binding. The manager will communicate about how long this process usually takes, just so everybody is on the same page. That they ordered a car and told you about it after the fact? Mind blown - especially since this is a rare bird and you may be the only person in 17 states who wants it. There are so many reasons for them not to have done that. (It's possible they didn't do it, and just told you they did - misunderstanding on the part of the salesman, manager blowing smoke, etc.)

    You did NOTHING wrong by going back to Dealer #1 after their butts caught fire. Both dealerships messed this up. They may also be able to see the search the other did for 'your' car. There aren't too many secrets in this business. And that's another reason that I wonder if Dealer #2 actually did order a car. If Dealer #1 found one that they could divert to you, that car shouldn't have been invisible to Dealer #2's search. Fifteen years ago searches were sometimes sketchy (manager would say 'I swear that car wasn't here when I looked yesterday, but it says it's been at the port for ten days') but I bet they've improved a lot.

    Enjoy your clean conscience and your new car! (and post pics...)
    OldDog52 likes this.
  14. DirtDog


    Jun 7, 2002
    The Deep North
    Both dealers are probably trying procure the exact same car - not just the same model, but the exact same VIN. The dealer who could execute that procurement quicker wins the deal. It's called "customer service". Nothing wrong on your part since you hadn't signed anything.

    As far as doing the deal via text - no biggie. I've bought vehicles by fax, email and PO. I even bought a vehicle in Canada when I was in Afghanistan!
  15. Pilgrim

    Pilgrim Supporting Member

    I also have sold cars for a living.

    You did nothing wrong. The #2 dealer got a car on his OWN initiative, not based on a commitment from you.

    You had no firm commitment to either dealer. When someone says "If I could do X, would you buy it today?" That's a basic sales technique to force a decision. Saying Yes is not making a deal, especially when they let a couple of days pass.

    You're fine, and neither dealer should be (or will be) feeling like they were treated unfairly.
    OldDog52 likes this.
  16. viribus

    viribus Gold Supporting Member

    Jan 1, 2011
    Pacific Northwest
    I never actually learned to play very well
    Before this started, when I used the manufacturer website to build exactly what I want, it would say sorry but there’s nothing even close to that available anywhere near you.

    Now when I build the exact same thing, it shows as “on the lot” at both dealers. In fact Dealer #1 shows 2 of them. That’s 3 total. They have 3 different VINs. Neither dealer actually has one, but the cars are apparently in transit to those dealers.
    Downunderwonder likes this.
  17. I guess the proper answer to the 'will you do the deal' question is ''the price is good but when can I get it?".

    What is the salesman supposed to do then?
  18. viribus

    viribus Gold Supporting Member

    Jan 1, 2011
    Pacific Northwest
    I never actually learned to play very well
    The "when can you get it" question was always on the table since they didn't have one on the lot and there were none anywhere in the Pacific Northwest. After agreeing on the price, they allowed days to go by without giving me any updated information at all on what they were doing about getting the car.

    The salesman is powerless to do anything related to obtaining the car. Only the sales manager(s) can do that. Since starting this thread I've talked to the sales guy at Dealer #2 and he agrees that his manager(s) kind of dropped the ball by not reaching out to me. To his credit, he says he'll stay on top of the delivery date for the car and let me know when it's there just in case the other deal falls apart for some reason. The only reasons that might happen are if Dealer #1 changes the price, or doesn't get the car reasonably close to when promised.
  19. Eh? You still have no contract?
  20. viribus

    viribus Gold Supporting Member

    Jan 1, 2011
    Pacific Northwest
    I never actually learned to play very well
    I've said this several times now. I've bought and sold many cars from both dealers and we know each other on a first name basis. They trust me and I (mostly) trust them. I have the numbers in writing in the form of emails & texts. They know if they pull any shenanigans I will walk. I have no skin in the game, not even a deposit, because they know me. If they wanted a deposit to secure the car, I'd be happy to do that. But they don't require a deposit from me or any other formal "contract" in advance of the actual delivery of the car. As I said, I'm an atypical car buyer.