Why is Buying a Car a Horrible Experience?



Why is Buying a Car A Horrible Experience?


Let me get one thing out first. Not everyone has a bad experience. But research states that buying a car is one of the top horrible experiences that happen to people. Even worse than cellphone companies.


We are deluged with car ads on TV and in the print media. They show people walking up to a car and saying things like “I’ll take it.” Seriously? Nobody does that. But let’s go back a bit and try to fix the car buying experience instead of the bombardment of advertising. Fix it.


Researchers have stated that according to advertising dollars in the U.S., there will be over $20 billion spent on ads for vehicles.


Dealerships need to adhere to the old adage that you only get one chance to make a first impression. Use it, don’t abuse it. Oh and a side note, if you find tackier chairs and furniture somewhere other than a dealership, you have made a discovery.


When you walk into a dealership it is an unfriendly looking place. Most the salespeople we encountered were sitting around looking dour when we arrived and, I’m sad to say, our arrival didn’t seem to cheer them up. One’s enthusiasm soon falls by the wayside in the presence of people with low energy, negative affect, and few conversational skills.

I have a thought for the sales department. Why not treat customers with respect and it wouldn’t hurt to flatter their intelligence instead of telling them what they don’t know or care about. While you are at it, let’s get new sales techniques.


Why do they have to make the visit longer. They prolong it by asking un-needed questions and look at things were are not interested in. According to research, if we are there a longer period of time we are more likely to buy from the dealer as we have invested time and they are escalating our commitment and now we feel vested to buy there. This is known as “establishing control”.

Hello. Customers tend to rebel against this attempt to limit their behavior. It is a real battle and the dealerships are digging in.

Simple fat….the more the salespeople tried to get us to do what they wanted, the more we got irritated and started to leave.


According to an article written in CBS News:

A better approach would be to use the influence tactics of liking and reciprocity, nicely described in social psychologist Robert Cialdini’s book on Influence. Reciprocity entails doing a favor for someone so they will reciprocate — which, in the car buying experience, involves more than just offering coffee or water, but also trying to accommodate customers’ schedules and requests. People are more likely to comply with requests from someone they like, and people tend to like people who flatter them, smile, and are pleasant — not people who try to bully and intimidate.


Car dealers do seem to have one thing going for them — in our many visits to dealers of various makes and models, we had virtually uniformly horrible experiences. I guess the companies figure if you’re going to buy a car and the dealers are all equally bad, one of them will get your business.


It would be interesting to know if a better car buying experience might help perk up car sales. Meanwhile, fixing these problems wouldn’t take much. And it would be a lot less expensive than the massive advertising designed to get you to go to a car dealer only to soon wish you hadn’t.


Let me share a few of mine over the years.


Many years ago I went to a dealer without my wife as an exploratory mission to look for a new vehicle. I was going to rule out certain makes and models which included their price tag. A salesman dogged me around the lot trying to get information from me as to “what is your price?” and how many miles and things like that… and of course my address and phone number.

Then I found a car I was interested in and asked him for a price. He was stunned. He gave me a ballpark figure and I asked for something concrete. He stammered and asked me “who else has to share in this decision?”. I told him it would be my wife and I and the price would be discussed by both of us. He shook his head and said that he couldn’t give me a price without my wife. Then I told him she was busy and couldn’t he proceeded in re-stating he wouldn’t give me a price in that case. I countered with just give me a price. His line was “I won’t give you a price without your wife seeing it” to which I replied she can’t. He just shook his head and said”she has to see it and be here with you.” Then I dropped the false line that ws said in a raised voice…..  “look buddy, she can’t see it. My wife is blind.” My brother was with me and he just about lost it as the salesperson said… “Oh.”

I walked out.


Another time my wife and I were together and found one we liked and inquired to price. Here is what the salesman said, “ Just sign these papers and I will bring back the best price I can.” Uh, no.


I have heard of salesmen getting your keys to drive your trade in and then refusing to give them back until they have had you there for hours in an attempt to sell a car.


Just a few weeks ago I drove through a car lot real slow looking at pickups and lo and behold a sales guy steps out in the center of the lane with both hands up to stop me. I thought about not seeing him but I stopped and he asked me questions and wanted my phone number. No thanks.


Why can’t this experience get better?

This blog written by Tom Knuppel