TheManager asks that you forgive these occasional off-topic rants, but some things outside of Leadership Development and Management Training need to see the light of day…
I was reading an article on AOL today about how consumers are getting ripped off in the finance office (sometimes called the business office) at their local car dealer. I thought the points were interesting, so I called a friend who runs the Internet sales department for a large car dealer near my home. He’s been in the business a number of years and I needed to know if I’m being taken advantage of when I step into that office. I directed him to the AOL article (here’s a link) and asked his opinion. To say that he was animated about the topic would be putting it mildly. Here’s what he had to say:
This article and the BeatTheCarSalesman website are completely misleading to the car buying public. The fact is, the website is dedicated to capturing consumer information so they can SELL IT to car dealers. Car dealers pay about $20 per customer contact from sites like this and these sites often sell the information multiple times – meaning they can make around $60 from every consumer.
“It’s true that dealers make more money in the F&I office than off the sale of a new car, but 95% of dealers actually offer consumers a finance rate the same or better than they can find on their own. Yes, we make profit from the financing, but if you understand what the rates are at your local banks before you go in, you’ll be surprised at how much better the rates are at the dealership.
“The bottom line is that someone is going to make money on the car loan. By allowing the dealer to finance the car, you can get more for your trade and pay less for your purchase, because in the end, the dealer has to make something or they will have to shut their doors.
“This is not the 1970s, and car dealers are not the slimy guys portrayed by BeatTheCarSalesman.com. I wish America would wise up, and stop letting these fear mongers take advantage of them. If people do their homework, negotiate a great deal and finance the whole thing at the dealership, they actually come out ahead in the long run.”
He was so energized by the whole notion of these “false-front websites” (as he called them), that he got TheManager fired up, as well.
After a little more discussion, it was clear to TheManager that the best way to get a deal on a new or used car today was to go to respected websites like www.KBB.com and www.Edmunds.com, research what your trade-in is worth, check out local finance rates and submit your information for a price quote from these websites or at the local dealer’s website. As my friend explained, they treat the consumers who submit their information from the dealer’s site as serious about getting a good deal, while they treat their “leads” from the false-front websites as lower quality.
I guess the moral of this rant is that you shouldn’t believe everything you read on the Internet, even if AOL decides to publish an article by one of these guys and calls it “news.” As my friend surmised, AOL might even be getting a piece of the action from BeatTheCarSalesman.com.
Wow, where has real journalism gone?