Confessions of a Happy Car Buyer

Ah, the many the joys of car shopping right? NOT! My weekend started something like this, I had two days to find a new car at a good price with specific features that had just started rolling out to the dealerships.  I have three daughters, work and a husband with a very demanding job schedule, who has time for that?  I was between a wall and a hard place. What could I do to make all this happen and most importantly what could I do so I would NOT get taken advantage of?

Sure, we had thought of buying a new car (dreamed of it for months actually) and we had "sort of" decided which vehicle I would like but I have to tell you, if it wasn't for this one article I read online, I would not have found the great deal I did.  I would've done like every one else, us included, gone to a dealership and had been at the mercy of whatever price they threw at me.  If you are in the market, just thinking of a buying or just like to know stuff like me, please read this article: www.edmunds.com: confessions of a car salesman. You will NOT regret it and it could end up saving you lots of money.  I call it the $5K article because that's actually how much it saved me.

I have been reading, prepping and getting all the knowledge I could this time before I set foot in a dealership.  Our last car purchase was so unpleasant, I walked out of the closing office warning my husband he was getting ripped off and that he should walk away.  My warning was not taken and he went ahead and signed.  Sure enough, he has been regretting that purchase ever since.  I did not want to have this same experience.

When I think of car buying, it's been my experience, these words come to mind: stressful, wrong, evil, jerks, mean, take advantage of, bossy, did I mention jerks already?  But do the words pleasant, happy, excited, honest, good deal, fair come to mind? Never right? But I was lucky to experience all of the above thanks to these very helpful tips that I will now share with you. I'm so nice like that.

DO YOUR RESEARCH:
I have to say that if I could give you just one tip, this would actually be it.  Part of what made my car buying experience more "pleasant", was that I did a bit of online research.  Absolutely and without a doubt the best place I started was doing a few Google searches and I came to this one article: www.edmunds.com: confessions of a car salesman It is a bit long but I learned so much and at the end I thought I was ready to tackle it all.  Knowledge is great but it's not until you are face to face with a car salesman that will make you forget everything you just learned.  They are that gooood.  Remember, knowledge is power and you will not be defenseless when you do finally meet with them.  It's very important to write down what you expect to pay and don't settle for anything less.  Stick to your guns. Car dealers are in this business for profits and not to be your BFF even though they may try to pretend to be.

PHONE SHOPPING:
Edmunds.com and CarsDirect.com were two websites that were so helpful in getting me to know my numbers, Invoice price, the Fair Market Value (FMV) for the vehicle I wanted and probably most importantly they sent out Quote requests for me.  All I had to do was wait for the phone to start ringing off the hook. And it did.  I was quite overwhelmed for a day with so much love and attention.  "What can I do to earn your business Mrs. Frith?" said a salesman on the phone.  "I will beat anyone else's price, and if they beat us, we will then beat ourselves again.  That's how much we want your business" said another.  So much talk but nothing on paper.  Then something unexpected happened, I actually got a quoted email with a rather surprisingly great low price.  It was so good, it was actually about $1200 below Invoice price for the vehicle I wanted.  Could this be too good to be true?  Could this be just one more gimmick?

BIG CITY, BIG PRICES:
I live in a big city so obviously our big city comes with big city prices.  While I won't say the name of the place I went to, (FHC) it had all the "red flags" that I was advised to stayed away from.  After reading the online article on Edmunds.com, I was ready to walk away as soon as I felt the "run around" and eventually I did.  It felt great to walk away, I was armed with knowledge and knew what I wanted and I demanded it - darn it.  I still feel bad for anyone buying there, they think their vehicles are somehow made of gold, or at least this one since according to them, it was "THE ONLY ONE IN THE 5 STATE SURROUNDING AREA!" Oooh, then I must get this one right? Wrong!  I knew their gimmicks and stories of selling and I was not about to fall for any one of them.  My advice, get out of the big city if you really want to find a good deal.

AT THE DEALERSHIP:
Once you have something in writing since many car salesmen tend to "forget" what they told you over the phone, head to the dealership.  I recommend you go test drive the vehicle on one day only.  There will be no business or talks of numbers, just go test drive the car and also test talk with the car salespeople there.  I soon found out I just did not like the car saleswoman that was tending to me.  She was not friendly, caring or even seemed to enjoy her job.  That was another big red flag.

Say "thank you" and go home.  They expect you to fall in love with the vehicle you just test drove and succumb to their every whim.  Be strong and just walk away.  The next day or so they will call to check on you, trust me.  This is when you talk business.  Talk over the phone and make sure they put it in writing through email only.  I was tricked into going back to their dealership to talk business.  They claimed they just got the only car like I wanted in this 5 state area and were ready to talk numbers.   I wanted to see what numbers they had for me.  Armed with that great offer I had received through email, when I got there I said to them "can you do this price?"  After the usual run around, she finally came back saying that her boss said my price was ridiculous.
"No dealership is going to honor that price.  It just can't happen.  It's $1200 below the Invoice price.  This is a brand new, just released newly redesigned vehicle. We all pay the same price for our vehicles, there is just NO way in hell no body can honor that.  They only want you to go to their place then when they have you there, they will crawfish their way out of that price.  Call us when they do and we will be glad to talk business with you."  
Now remember, their price was $5000 more than the quoted email I had.  I can absolutely see why they did not want to even come close to matching the price on my email.  It did seem kind of ridiculous to tell you the truth, but I had faith.  Could there really be "honest" car salesmen out there?  We left this dealership once more and I was running out of time.  My sister was coming to get my car the very next day.

MY HOUSTON AREA DEALER RECOMMENDATION: 
Not only did the Quoted email I received was for $1200 off the Invoice price but it actually said they had one In Stock!  This couldn't be, last night I was told by the FHC dealership they had the only one in the 5 state area... could this be too good to be true.  I woke up in the morning and picked up the phone.  This price was just too good to pass up.

I was immediately surprised by the friendliest voice on the other side of the line.  She was attentive, nice and so willing to help.  First thing I asked her was if she would be able to honor the price she quoted me and her response: "Absolutely.  We stand behind our word.  You bring the email I sent you and that is the price you will pay."  Wow, I was a bit in shock to tell you the truth.  Ok, now for the second part of the deal... did she have it in stock?  She let me know she would be at work at noon and she would tell me for sure but her iPad showed it was in stock since it was when she emailed me.  She called me back a few minutes later and sure enough, it was.  It had the exact same features than the one at the dealership in Houston.  How could this be?  Was I plain out lied to in my face the night before?

While this all seemed a bit too good to be true, the only thing was the town this dealership is in is two hours outside of Houston.  Was the drive worth for saving $5000?  Heck yeah!  I said a prayer and headed that way, I mean what was the worst that could happen?  That I would have to drive back home for two hours without a new car.  Of course, I would do that it in a heartbeat, if they hadn't kept their word.  After they texted me photos of the outside and inside of the vehicle, I was sure that was it.  I took the chance and headed that way.

I was immensely surprised by my experience at Philpott Motors in Nederland, Tx.  Shelly Beckett was the nicest and honest lady who took great care of us.  I had done an online credit application, so when I got there the pre approval was already complete and the car was detailed and ready for me.  The car I wanted was there, the quoted email was honored, my stay was so amazingly friendly and I was made to feel appreciated and welcome.  Shelly was so efficient, honest and friendly with a great car price ... what more could you ever ask for in a car salesperson?  They were fast about the transaction and we were signing before we knew it.  The car was mine!  I could hardly believe it! Shelly took the time to link my cell phone to the car navigation system and showed me how everything inside the vehicle worked.  We chatted before it was time to go home.  I will always be grateful for the fair treatment she gave us.

See, people like her has showed me that there are no such thing as "Mean Car salespeople" but only "Mean People" period.  She understands the true aspect of business and how important it is to make your customers happy. There is nothing wrong with loving what you do and when you do, it shows in how you treat your customers.  I understand profit because we have our own business but there is a huge difference between profit and taking advantage of your customers.  There is only one way to be and stay in business and that is to treat your customers fair.

IN CONCLUSION:
My online car shopping experience started a bit hectic but ended up with such a pleasant surprise.  I am so happy I found someone I could honestly recommend to anyone looking for a great price on a vehicle.  While I don't expect to get a new car in the next 10 years or so, I know my information will help someone out there.  For me it was a two hour drive, but I can honestly say I wouldn't drove even further to have the experience I did.  It was so worth it.  See you want to give your business to someone you feel deserves it and I know in my heart she earned it and deserved it.

If you are in the Houston or surrounding area, please visit these friendly, honest folks at Philpott Motors in 1400 US HWY 69 Nederland, Tx 77627. (888) 904-0957.  It's about 8 miles South of Beaumont, Tx.  They sell Ford, Hyundai, Toyota and Scion. Specifically ask for Shelly Beckett and she will take good care of you.  Tell her Lorena Frith send you as she is surely expecting you, see I told her I would tell everyone I knew about her! :)

P.S.  There was no greater feeling that when I was called two days later by the FHC dealership to "check in on me" and see if "the other dealership had crawfished on their price".  He sounded a bit arrogant and sure of what my answer would be.  I'm pretty sure he was NOT expecting what my response would be.  I was so looking forward to this call actually. With my nice and polite voice I replied:
"Oh thank you for calling Tim.  Well no, they actually honored the price they quoted me and kept every word they said. We purchased their vehicle and we are very happy.  They had the exact car I wanted and we saved about $5000 by buying from them." 
"Oh, I see, have a good day."  And that was that.  It's the last I've heard from them.  You think they learned a lesson?  Probably not.

Happy in my new 2014 Toyota Highlander (review coming soon)
The End.

Lorena Frith

Lifestyle Photographer in the Houston, Tx area.

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