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Old 12-29-2009, 01:40 PM
Location: Grosse Ile Michigan
21,406 posts, read 54,521,481 times
Reputation: 20854


I made an offer on a used car yesterday and they just said that I should make another offer.

I thought about this, and realized that I really do not have much experience negotiating a used car price.

I made an offer of 80% of their asking price (this was from a dealership). They acted shocked. Maybe it was just an act. Is 80% of the asking price not a reaosnable initial offer? They have to expect to negotiate something more than 10% below their asking price. Even a private seller will negotiate that much, unless they are underpriced. It looks to me like dealers are always significantly over priced. I asusme that this is because they hope that someone will come along who is stupid enough to pay the inflated price without negotiating to a price clsoer to market. Thus, they should be more willing to negotiate, but it seems not.

Second, they did not counteroffer and said that they would not counteroffer. They wanted me to just make another offer. That is bizzarre to me. That is not a negotiation. What is up with that? Is it some sort of trick that they learn in car salesman school? Apparently, they want me to keep negotiating against myself until I give them an offer that they want. Then they will make a counter offer. Why should i negotiate against my own offer. If they think that it is simply too low, then they should just say no. Not "Make another offer." What am I supposed to do, offer $10 or $100 more? I am not going to move my offer up substantially without a counter offer to see whether they are willing to move on the price.

I told them to counteroffer or forget it. If they are not willing to move on their price in response to my offer, then we will not reach an agreed price. I have not heard back from them, so I assume that they simply will not counter offer. It so too bad since I liked the particular combination of options, mileage, etc on this particular vahicle, however there are others out there that are a better price, just configured differently, or a different color.

Anyway I am curious whether anyone has any knolwege of the tactics that the car salesmen are taught, or the noraml practices (i.e. how much they are likely to negotiate from their asking price), since I may well end up doing this again (and again and again).
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Old 12-29-2009, 01:46 PM
Location: Eastern Washington
12,119 posts, read 39,493,534 times
Reputation: 9318
Hell, I would have offered one dollar more.

For whatever reason, I usually offer 15% less than people are asking for whatever they are selling. This seems to be a good number to be too low for them to take off the bat, usually, but high enough to be in their ballpark so they counter it to me.

Sounds like this dealer does not much want your business. Suggest you walk.

I have always had better luck dealing with individual owners rather than dealers. Every car I currently own was bought from an individual or given to me.
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Old 12-29-2009, 02:04 PM
Location: Columbia, California
6,662 posts, read 23,866,329 times
Reputation: 5020
You are right, they are behaving oddly. I would pass and look elsewhere. I think 80% is a good starting point, if they ask for a second offer - make it even less.

I bought a nice little paperback years ago - "buying a new or used car".
It revealed tactics car dealers use to separate us from our money. Basically it mentioned:
Do not use a existing car as a trade in - if it has value sell it yourself. Dealers have been known to actually raise the contract price to cover your trade in, making you pay them to trade your car in.
The best time to purchase is the end of the month, a rainy day at the months end is even better.
The dealer will keep you in their office for hours to wear you down, when they say they are consulting with the manager they are actually in the break room. Showing up 30 minutes before closing is your best defense.

My best purchases were our last two trucks we bought new. I used the buyers program from Costco. Costco negotiated the price to $2500 under invoice, included 10yr/100,000 warranty. I handled the whole purchase over the phone, spent 30 minutes one afternoon picking them up. Sam's club has a similar program.
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Old 12-29-2009, 02:54 PM
Location: Southwest Pa
1,392 posts, read 3,329,208 times
Reputation: 1451
Two things you did good. You didn't play the game against yourself by upping your offer and you understand there are other cars that would suit you just as well. Congrats on those counts.

Why won't they play the game? Don't know, maybe experience tells them once they have a hook on you you'll flop yourself out of the water into the net. It happens all the time.

Hang tight, your skills aren't as bad as you think.
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Old 12-29-2009, 03:04 PM
Location: Poway, CA
2,692 posts, read 8,873,670 times
Reputation: 2163
Make sure they have your contact info, then wait. 80% is nothing ridiculous, but it would all depend on how aggressively they've priced the car to begin with.

the bigger question is, do you know what that car is worth and what you are willing to pay? check local sales of the same vehicle, KBB values, etc, and know what you can expect. the more knwledgable you are, the less you have to BS with them. when i bought my last used car (from a dealer), i went in offered exactly what i thought a reasonable price was. they bawked, but i showed them printouts of dealer-owned and private-party vehicles for sale that i had printed off just that morning. if they hadn't played ball, i would've headed down the street to the next guy. not saying it would work all the time, but it worked for me.

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Old 12-29-2009, 03:13 PM
Location: Vermont
9,605 posts, read 9,539,497 times
Reputation: 11765
They're being ridiculous. Do not make a counteroffer.

One fact and one idea that might help you.

The fact: there are other cars, probably lots of them, that meet your needs as well as this car does, and most of them are being sold by someone else. You don't need this dealer.

The idea: Take a look at the calendar, and you will notice that the last day of the year is coming. Show up Thursday afternoon, possibly with your new offer of 78% of their asking price, and see what happens.
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Old 12-29-2009, 04:45 PM
1,080 posts, read 2,104,952 times
Reputation: 743
Check back in a month or two and see if that same car is still there (if you don't find something else). Make your same offer again and I'm willing to bet they'll counter this time. A lot of dealers have unrealistic asking prices on used cars. Especially new car dealers selling 6-7+ year old cars with low mileage, for example 2000 Impala with 55k on it isn't worth $7,000 (saw this one in an ad today) but they must think some sucker will come along and go for it.
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Old 12-29-2009, 05:00 PM
Location: WA
5,025 posts, read 19,568,997 times
Reputation: 4997
This world is full of cars... if I can't get a counter after a valid offer (new or used) I just walk.
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Old 12-29-2009, 05:35 PM
Location: Columbia, California
6,662 posts, read 23,866,329 times
Reputation: 5020
It is like at the gun shows, if the price is too high I usually don't even make a offer.
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Old 12-29-2009, 06:58 PM
10,321 posts, read 38,059,184 times
Reputation: 12517
What they were asking you to do was to get into a "bidding war" with yourself!

The "shocked" attitude is nothing but an act, a well rehearsed and practiced game that they hope will lead a willing buyer to a close.

I've bought many used cars at 15%-50% of the "sticker" price at a dealership, and these were MB's, BMW's, and an assortment of "rare" British cars. My current 1982 MB 300Dt was bought at a Lexus dealership just after they'd taken it in trade; my first offer was 20% of what the saleman said was their asking price. After all their crocodile tears and wailing and screams of despair about how they were going to lose money on the deal ... I was finally ushered into the presence of the used car manager who managed to beat me up for another $250. He was laughing through the negotiations ... I'd asked him if this was the "skinning room" and "if it was time now for the bump?".

We understood each other clearly that I'd been in the biz for a long time and he had a trade-in car which could not be seen anywhere on his lot ... a 14 year old competing luxury line car that needed reconditioning and was an out of favor diesel powered car (diesel prices had now surpassed gasoline per gallon) which could only be sent to the auction. I was on his premises, ready-willing-and able with cash in hand and an offer to take the offending piece of merchandise off his lot immediately as a "tow-away" (because they hadn't been able to yet give it their "32 point safety inspection" (can you spell FLUFF?) as a used car.

Total time at the dealership? about 55 minutes and I was on my way. It took longer to have the clerk fill out the paperwork then it took me to inspect the car and strike the deal. I had to jump-start the car from my old 'benz diesel (another '82) because they'd left the dome light on and run the battery down. My story was that I had a short time window to go home and get a friend to help get my 'benz off their lot, and they were happy to see it go away.

Don't let the dealerships play all their negotiations games with you. Research what you want to buy, and check the FMV's with your banker or on-line with NADA for KBB or similar sources. Head in to the dealership, let them know what you're looking for, and check out the car to your satisfaction (or take it to your mechanic for a pre-purchase check over). Make your offer and give them ample time and opportunity to accept it or negotiate it; either way, it shouldn't take too long. Make it clear you don't have time to waste playing games and getting run around by all the sales force practicing their closing techniques on you. You're down to one issue at that point: PRICE. If they cannot give you a counter-offer that you can accept or seriously enter into negotiations to strike a bargain, then it's time for you to walk. Don't pressure yourself to hurry into a decision you may regret later on.

Don't ever give them any money at any time unless you have a signed deal by the person at the dealership who can authorize the sale. ASK and be sure; there's so many times where the salesman or his boss or team manager still has to get a "final approval" from the BIG BOSS (whoever that may be) and you don't want to drive away thinking you have a deal and then they want more money. Ask and be sure that the paperwork you have in hand is the final authorized deal for your purchase in full and acknowledged as such by the dealership. If they can't verify that the deal is the final deal (especially if there is financing involved), then do NOT drive the vehicle off the lot thinking it's yours. You simply must have the final real deal in hand at the price you agreed upon before driving away with the car, and be sure the paperwork numbers match what you understood the deal to be ... no blank spots in the contract, no numbers that took a lot of fancy talking to explain and you don't understand, etc. I hear time and time again of people who "discover" different terms/payment/price after driving away in their excitement of the purchase and they've got a binding signed contract which wasn't what they thought they'd bought.

Don't ever give them all your keys to a car being considered for a trade-in. Allow them to have the one key needed to operate the car, and preferably do not let it out of your sight. If need be, you need to have the ability to get back into your car and drive it away. If they want to play games about stranding you without your car when you can't make a deal, don't hesitate to give them a reasonable amount of time, say 10 minutes ... to locate your car and bring it back to you before your next call is to the police to report your car stolen at the dealership. And use the phone on the desk of the salesman to make the call ... be as noisy and obnoxious as you can be about the situation. The last thing a dealership wants is an unhappy disturbance in their showroom.

Have fun. It's a game to most of the folks in the biz and they love to work you over. You don't have to play to your disadvantage. You have the power to deny them the deal they want, and you can walk out anytime. Take it from one who's been there ... you walk out on a salesman after having identified yourself as capable/motivated/interested and the manager is not going to have kind words for that salesman, especially at a new car dealership.

Last edited by sunsprit; 12-29-2009 at 07:18 PM..
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