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with auto salesmen? Don’t
You don’t have to go out to an auto dealership ready for pitched
warfare with a salesman. No-haggle car shopping is alive and growing.
By Liz Pulliam
If you hate
to bargain, you’re in luck. There have never been more ways
for car shoppers to avoid haggling over cost.
dismissed fixed-price car sales as a fad more than a decade ago,
when General Motors' Saturn division made no-haggle pricing part
of its sales pitch. Until then, only a handful of dealerships had
tried the one-price approach and none very successfully.
were right in one sense: Saturn didn’t change the way most
cars are sold. Ninety-five percent of buyers still choose to buy
their wheels the traditional way, matching wits with salespeople
in dealer showrooms, said Chris Denove, a partner with research
firm J.D. Power and Associates. But the Internet, auto superstores
and car-buying intermediaries offer plenty of options for those
who despise dickering. Money 2004.
Smarter, faster and easier
Shop the Internet
Sixty percent of new car buyers and 47% of those in the market for
used cars research their purchases on the Internet, J.D. Power surveys
found. These shoppers read car reviews, check prices at services
like Kelley Blue Book and Edmunds.com and
sort through listings at AutoTrader.com, autobytel.com, Cars.com
and MSN Autos. (You can go to those sites by clicking on the links
at left under Related Sites.)
Most of these
listing services work like classified ads, getting buyers in touch
with dealers or private parties and letting the two sides negotiate
on their own. About one in 20 car buyers purchase a car after getting
a price quote this way. Another J.D. Power survey found these Internet
buyers saved between $300 to $500 on their new-car purchases --
although Denove cautioned that the sophisticated buyers who use
Internet services probably would have saved a similar amount had
they used a more traditional route, simply because they were more
likely to do the kind of research that saves money.
offer truly haggle-free shopping. CarsDirect.com, for example, provides
a firm-price service in most markets, working with dealerships that
are willing to make their best bid up front.
typically dealing with the fleet departments (of dealerships) and
getting fleet-like terms,” said Bob Brisco, the company’s
is a recent convert to CarsDirect.com. The Venice, Fla. rental agent
says he’s usually nervous about purchasing anything on the
Web, but his daughter had such a good experience buying from the
company that he was willing to give it a try.
gone to a few dealerships and checked out the prices, but I don’t
like to mess with dealers,” said Thompson, 58, who last bought
a new car in 1997. “(CarsDirect.com) came back with the best
deal, they got me the financing, and they handled my trade-in. I
didn’t have to do anything.”
his new Dodge Dakota for the first time when he drove to pick it
up at a dealership about 115 miles from his home. If he hadn’t
been trading in his Jeep Grand Cherokee, Thompson said, the dealership
would have delivered the car to his door.
If you need to see a car before you buy and Saturns just don’t
do it for you, you can find a huge range of other vehicles at such
national chains as AutoNation and CarMax.
These auto superstores
have hundreds of new and used cars on their lots, each with a no-haggle
price tag. Both also have Internet shopping sites that can cut down
on your footwork.
by far the bigger operation, with 287 locations in 17 states. The
chain specializes in new car sales, although it sells plenty of
used cars as well -- in fact, more than any other single used-car
retailer in the country.
CarMax, by contrast,
concentrates on selling popular, late-model cars at its 44 used-car
superstores in 21 states, although it also has 15 new-car franchises.
say the chains’ prices tend to be mid-range, perhaps not as
cheap as a good bargainer could achieve, but not as high as a typical
Hire a pro
The factors affecting car prices -- what incentives are being offered,
how well the vehicle is selling, how many of the cars dealers have
on their lots -- can fluctuate by the minute. Keeping up with all
the changes can be a full-time job.
If you really
don’t want to do the legwork to know what price is a good
price, you can hire someone to buy the car for you.
typically have relationships with several dealerships that offer
them cars for a certain amount over invoice. Brokers may charge
you a $50 to $100 service fee and also may collect a small commission
from the dealership.
Like the superstores,
auto brokers usually aren’t the rock-bottom cheapest way to
get a car. What you’re really buying is convenience. You can
find them by typing “Auto Broker” into a search engine
or by looking in your local yellow pages. Make sure a broker is
licensed and bonded before agreeing to do business.
Put it out for
You can serve as your own broker by faxing or e-mailing dealerships
in your area, telling them exactly what you’re looking for
and asking them to give you their best price.
This works best
if you do plenty of research in advance, said Mary Butler, editor
at Cars.com. You’ll need to decide on the make and model,
choose the trim style you want and come up with a list of must-have
options. Consumer Report’s new car buying service can help
you figure out a fair price.
You should concentrate
your efforts on high-volume, well-established dealerships that welcome
dealers are going to be more open about giving you a price over
the phone or by email,” Butler said. “Some for competitive
reasons will refuse to give you the number and want you to come
Walk into a
Finally, don’t assume that you have to avoid the showroom
to avoid hassles. Butler regularly accompanies friends and family
when they go out to buy a car, and she’s found that the best-prepared
buyers don’t have to do much negotiating.
done all your research, you know what the invoice price is, you
know what the incentives are,” Butler said. “Then you
build in a dealer profit of 2% to 3%.”
Having a firm
but realistic price can drastically cut down on the back-and-forth,
“let me check with my manager” hassles that most car
give them your price and say you’re ready to buy today,”
Butler said. “I don’t consider that haggling.”
Source: MSN Money - Oct 28 7:19 PM - web site: http://moneycentral.msn.com/content/Savinganddebt/Saveonacar/P59861.asp
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Reviews on Kelley Blue Book
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