Thursday, July 17, 2008

You can’t force a negotiation, I learned

After two months of car shopping off and on, haggling and getting mad, I finally got another car, a 2001 Honda Civic. And I learned something very important this week. You can’t make someone negotiate with you. Lucky for me, the car met my magic number after taxes and fees.
The small dealership sales manager shook his head every time I asked him to lower the price from the Internet one of $6,995.

Intimidating stares
The plan was for my friend Leslie and I to first be very nice. (And at first, it was looking pretty good when the first thing the sales guy said to us was do you want to take the Civic out? He didn’t even get my driver’s license.) Then when he didn’t lower the price we were just going to sit there. And look at him. I hoped the uncomfortable silence would push him to say something, anything, like a lower price. He just stared back at us and didn’t flinch. Didn’t work.

Scrambling for plan B
So, we tried a couple of other tactics. But the deal was in the dealership’s favor. With gas prices rising, everyone’s trying to find smaller cars with high miles per gallon. There was only one Honda in his lot and it wouldn’t be there for long. The only thing in my corner was there was a stain on the carpet. It looked a little worn. Still, no lower price.

One small concession, thanks to Leslie
Here’s how some of the banter went about the free tank of gas:
Sales guy: “I give you two gallons of gas.”
I wince.
Other sales guy: “Hey that’s a lot of money these days.”
Later on cool Leslie says: “I thought you said two tanks of gas. Take two tanks of gas.”
Sales guy: “No, I said, two gallons. How about a tank?”
Me: “I’ll take it!”
That Leslie is a sly fox.

Carmax is Carmax and they’re not it
After the sales guy says he won’t go down in price he explains: “People think they can haggle. We really don’t lower our prices.”
Me: “You’re not Carmax! Maybe you should put up a sign saying the price is what is or something.” No one pays the sticker. Right? Ha Ha.

The point is, you can’t negotiate if the other person won’t. It’s just like a relationship or conversation ending when one person leaves and the other one stays.

But in the end, I have the car I wanted for an OK price.

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