A few weeks ago, I got into a huge argument.
There was yelling. Loud yelling, in fact. There were wild gesticulations. Eyes were rolled, fingers were pointed and the argument culminated in my opponent yelling, “Kiddo, WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU?? You were so much nicer yesterday!!!!”.
Now, one would think this argument happened between my husband and me. Or during a PTA meeting. Or on a playground between two five year olds.
That final, loudly yelled utterance came out of the mouth of a car salesman with whom I was negotiating. He completely and utterly lost his cool because I wouldn’t back down during intense negotiations. He was furious at me for sticking to my guns and demanding a fair deal for the car I was buying from his dealership. And yes, he called me Kiddo.
Let me tell you, it did NOT go well for him. Not well AT ALL.
When Hubby and I decided to purchase a new car, I didn’t bat an eyelash at the thought of negotiating the deal myself. I’ve purchased cars on my own in the past and, while it’s not on my list of favorite things to do, I felt perfectly capable at being able to close a deal without my husband with me. And, since my husband’s schedule is so nuts, if I wanted a new set of wheels anytime before 2017, I knew I had to take matters into my own hands.
As I researched our new family car, I spoke with my friends about the features of their mom style people movers. We’d talk about cup holders, seating capacity, power lift gates and heated seats. We’d salivate over third row seats that disappeared magically and fancy entertainment systems. And, inevitably, the conversations always turned to the actual car buying process. Friend after friend admitted to me that most times, they left the car negotiation process to their husbands or fathers because of the perceived notion that women are not taken seriously in car dealerships.
I am not one to buy into the fact that men can do things better but I will admit that as that car salesman stood towering over me, eyes blazing and angry, I waivered in my confidence. But, as he yelled that final sentence, demanding to know what was wrong with me, I steeled myself, pushed my chair back and stood up so that I was eye level with him. I looked him straight in the eye and told him that if I had been a man, he’d never have asked why I wasn’t nicer and he’d be more willing to negotiate. I told him it was Mrs. Burke, not Kiddo, and I gathered my things and left, much to his shock and dismay.
My experience with the car salesman from hell has made me realize that women really are at a disadvantage when they try to buy a car on their own. After the way I was treated, I was shocked to realize that, in this day and age, men still think that intimidation tactics are okay and actually work. But, what I also realized is the reason he was so incensed was not because I was a woman per se, it’s because I went in to my negotiation prepared. Ready for battle. I had done my homework.
If you are a woman and thinking of buying a car, consider the following:
Do your research- Before you even set foot into the dealership, know what features you want and how much those features cost. Build the car you’d like to purchase on the carmaker’s website and play with the options to find the exact model and pricing that works for you.
Know what your trade in is worth– Car sites like Auto Trader, Kelley Blue Book and Cars.com allow you to calculate what a fair price is for your trade in based on the features. You will get information on private sales versus what a car dealership will pay for your existing car. You can also use Auto Trader to get a real time, online quote for your trade in that lasts 48 hours.
Figure out what people REALLY pay for the car you want– Face it: no one pays full price for a car on a dealership lot. While it’s true a dealership wants to make money, there’s a national average paid for every car on the market. Truecar.com helps you build the car you want to purchase and shows you the sticker price AND the price people are actually paying across the country.
Understand the “Hard Words”- I suck at anything related to mortgages and loans. The minute someone says “APR” and “lease” and “amortization”, my eyes gloss over. Car dealers bank on the fact that people don’t understand the terms of a loan or the lingo on a lease. Before you go into the dealer, spend time brushing up on basic loan verbiage or ask your friends to explain topics that are fuzzy to you. Try discussing your deal with your husband or partner before you go so you feel confident.
Ultimately, after a long, angry letter to the dealership’s general manager, I was finally taken seriously. When I signed our new car papers, I had negotiated the APR, trade in amount and the price I wanted for our new car. And, for good measure (read: because the salesman was such a schmuck), I managed to negotiate free car washes, a gift certificate to the detail shop, a bag of car accessory goodies AND a sterling silver key chain.
As I pulled out of the parking space in my shiny new car, I winked at the car salesman and said, “Thanks, Kiddo”……
This post originally appeared on LifetimeMoms, May 2016