If a Car Salesman Complains, Ignore It
Complaints from a car salesman should fall on deaf ears. Jason, over at VeriZongo, outlines several arguments that car salesman make that are completely ridiculous. For example, some may suggest that they can't make any money with the price you're asking for and it would be unfair to ask them to work for free. Here's Jason's suggested response:
No one would work for free. The dealership pays you minimum wage (or more) and although its usually a draw that you pay back, you NEVER work for free. What they omit is that no matter what they sell the car for, there is always a FLAT FEE that they will get (typically $100) either way. So no, I would not work for free, and neither do you. When they use this tactic offer to call the labor board on their behalf, because you think its terrible that they're not getting paid! This almost always shuts them up.
While this is likely a satisfying approach, it might not be all that successful in the long run as cynicism doesn't exactly win you favor. Nonetheless, Jason's argument illustrates why this claim is ridiculous and why you should ignore it. If you want to be cynical and/or aggressive, even though that tends to work against you, go for it, but your best bet is knowing what you want and settling for nothing less. If they try to negotiate, just stick to what you want. You can always leave.
Your Best Weapon Is Information
Do not tell a car salesman, or anyone at a dealership, any information you do not need to tell them. If you're trading in a leased car, don't tell them the payoff. They'll use it in their negotiation. In fact, you're best off getting a price without telling them you're trading in at all. Don't let them know your credit, how you're going to pay, or anything they do not need to know to give you a price. If you're going to buy, want to get a loan, or want to lease, tell them that and negotiate a price as if you were paying in cash. Make them commit to a price before you get into the details. Most salesmen will be very resistant, but they won't want to blow the sale either. If you keep pushing, you won't need to give them any information you don't need.
Check Your Emotions at the Door
Gregg Hall, over at Free Engineering, suggests that preventing yourself from expressing any emotion and decisiveness will work in your favor:
Never, ever let them see you like a car and don't act like you like them either. I don't care if it is the car of your dreams and you have been looking for months to find one. Don't let them know that. This is another thing that salesmen can't stand, a total lack of emotion from the customer.
You don't want to walk into a dealership devoid of all feeling, of course, but understanding that there are plenty of cars out there is important. You do not need the car they're selling. There are plenty of other great cars and great deals you can get. If that one car you love doesn't work out, you'll live. A genuine expression of indifference will help prevent any manipulation from sticking.
Don't Screw Yourself
While these evil posts probably don't make me seem like a particularly nice person, I at least come across that way. I put a high value on honesty and trust, plus I look young, so people try to take advantage of me on a regular basis. Still, I almost always give people the benefit of the doubt because I believe we have to or nobody would trust anyone. I mention this because car salesman are people, and they do not deserve to be treated like crap by default. If they break your trust or try to take advantage of you, I say let 'em have it, but you're ultimately screwing yourself if you assume the worst of a good, honest person.
Got any great suggestions for dealing with manipulative salesmen at the dealership? Let's hear 'em in the comments.