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Car Buying 101 by Lindsay Graham of Car Pal, LLC

This will be one of the longer blogs you’ve ever read, but worth it (!) - fast read as it’s mostly dialogue…
Car Buying 101: Get it in Writing, is a reminder lesson taken from day of painfully frustrating telephone back and forth with Staten Island Honda Internet Department.  If only I could get that part of my life back… lost forever in the craziness of car dealership communication, nay, — miscommunication tactics.

After receiving Exhibit A (please see below) within an email forwarded to me by a client, I dial the number listed at the bottom of the email.

“Hi Jessica, this is Lindsay Graham from Car Pal, I am calling
on behalf of a client. Your price of $28,000 for a brand new Honda Odyssey EX is very competitive, what other fees besides state sales tax and DMV title/tag work do you add to this $28,000?” 
Jessica: “Only the destination fee, nothing else.” 

Lindsay: “Terrific! What is the destination fee?” 

Jessica: “$780”

Lindsay to herself: “only!”

Lindsay: “Jessica, there are no other fees?” 

Jessica: “Nope!”

Lindsay: “Great, how much to add roof rails with cross bars?” 

Jessica: “Hold on please” 

Lindsay: waits for a few minutes, feels like ten…

Jessica: “$799”

Lindsay: “799?!?!?!?!” is that negotiable?

Jessica: “That includes installation” 

Lindsay: “Is that negotiable?” 

Jessica: “Yes, if you come in, the manager can work with you on
the numbers.”

Lindsay: “I don’t want to come in until we can have the numbers
agreed upon on the phone.”

Jessica: “We can’t do it over the phone, I’m not a
salesperson”  (even though her title reads, “Internet Sales Consultant” on her email!!)

Lindsay: Silence (VERY EFFECTIVE FOLKS — USE THIS!!!) 

Jessica: “Let me get my manager on the phone” 

Lindsay: “Thank you”

Adrian: “This is Adrian, how may I help you?” 

Lindsay: “Hi Adrian, I’m looking for a competitive price on this
Honda Odyssey EX. Jessica sent this email that it would be $28,000 and she says the only other fee is $780 for destination charges.  Is this correct?  $799 for the roof rack and cross bars is too high.”

Adrian: “OK, you know what, I don’t make money off of parts
sales, I will sell the roof rack and cross bars to you for $400 AND waive the destination fee.  What time will you be here?

Lindsay: (with way too much enthusiasm) “REALLY?!?! You have
yourself a deal then. I will send my clients tonight.”

Adrian: “We’ll work something out.  What time can we expect you?

Lindsay: (finding it odd that Adrian said… ‘we’ll work something
out’…) “I just need it in writing” 

Adrian:  Long pause…. “OK, I’ll have Jessica send you an email”

Fast forward to 6 hours later, 12 phone calls later to both Jessica and Adrian –
no email received – yet Adrian had been rushing me to get in there!
I FINALLY receive this, below (see Exhibit B).

I ask my readers to discern the following: Which part of this waives the $780 destination fee? Which part of the $298 doc fee and $199 dealer prep fee = “no other fees” ?!??!?!?  Of course, we expected taxes and title fee, but where did the other nearly $500 come from…? and how about that destination fee right back in there, despite the, “and I’ll waive the destination fee” comment from Adrian. (!!)

Needless to say, Car Pal didn’t do business there. When I called Adrian back and confronted him in a totally kind and inquisitive and non-confrontational way, he talked in circles about how he thought it was a LX and on a LX model he can waive the destination fee. Whatever!! 

Lesson learned: Buyer beware. If you are wrapping up your car
deal by phone or email, get everything in writing before you show up at the car dealer. (!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!)

Conclusion from this car buying adventure:  We did business with the great Matt Adovic, Sales Manager, and one of his salesman extraordinaire this morning at Paragon Honda in Queens, NY. His numbers never changed, they were competitive to begin with, there were no games, no back and forth, and what Matt put in writing matched what he and I discussed on the phone. Furthermore, Matt Adovic held the vehicle (even though there was only one) without a deposit until our client arrived, because he (Matt) said, “I am a man of my word and I expect you to be people of your word. We’ll see [your client] tomorrow morning!” (which they did!  And boy, is our client going to be a happy new Odyssey owner!)
Exhibit A:
From, Jessica Skanes, “I am the Internet Sales Consultant with
Staten Island Honda and here is the information you requested:

YEAR: 2011
MAKE:  Honda
MODEL: Odyssey EX
M.S.R.P:  $32,035

Exhibit B:
From, Adrian Smith, manager of Jessica Skanes (following the verbal confirmation of no other fees and waiving the destination fee):
YEAR: 2011
MAKE:  Honda
MODEL: Odyssey EX
M.S.R.P: $32,035.000
INTERNET PRICE: $28,400.00
Selling Price:
+780.00 Des & Hand
+298.00 Doc Fee
+ 199.00 Dealer Prep 
$29,677.00 Total Selling Price
+ 2,633.83 Tax (8.875%)
+ 117.50 DMV Charge 
Total F/I Charge


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