This post is part of the Short and Feisty Finance Series.
To stay up-do-date on all of Short and Feisty’s posts, click the Follow this blog button at the top right of this page.
I’m writing this post at 8:00pm on a Monday night–after working a twelve hour shift in less than ideal conditions.
BUT STILL, I’m alive and I’m getting paid for it, so I’ll save the griping for another post and get down to why I actually opened up the laptop tonight.
Buying a car when you’re a
damsel in distress strong independent lady.
So here’s the deal: I wish that I could say that salesmen aren’t biased when they see a woman shopping for a car on her own. I wish that I could say that the Toyota dealership in Santa Monica didn’t try to take advantage of me based on stereotypes and assumptions. I also wish I could say that I won the lottery this morning so I never have to work another day in my life so GOODBYE SIX YOUR OLD THAT CAN’T WIPE HIS OWN BUTT.
But if I said any of those things, I would be lying to you and then I would have to take time out of my 12-14 hour workdays to go to confession. Which actually might be nice…SO IT’S ALL TRUE.
Before I dive deeper into the topic of buying a car as a single lady, you should know that I am a firm believer in “buy used and save the difference” when it comes to automobiles. Those suckers depreciate the minute you drive them off of the lot so, unless you’re rich as hell, there’s no need to buy brand spanking new.
About a year and a half ago, I was in the market for a new car. I’d been driving a Sebring for about 4 years and I LOVED that car but knew I wanted a hybrid. Something about drinking the water in Los Angeles (sparingly drinking, there IS a 4 year drought, people) that made me want a Prius in particular. I purchased my Sebring at Carmax and was intending to go back but wanted to give a traditional dealership a chance.
We’ll start with the similarities, move on to my CarMax experience (by the way, I was not paid to post this. This is just my experience), and then head to the dealership.
- There is a LOT of waiting–either on the front end with the traditional dealership and waiting to see what they can “offer you” or with Carmax when dealing with settling up the loan.
- There are cars at both (ha!) but Carmax has a bigger selection from a lot of different makes and models.
- Walk into the door–a single salesman approaches you and tells you they can help if you need them OR you can look around the lot on your own and find them when you’d like more help.
- Carmax has a NO HAGGLE policy–the price you see is the price EVERYONE gets, regardless of age/race/gender, etc.
- I found the cars I liked and wanted to test drive, so the salesmen took me out in ALL of them. It had to be 5+ cars, but he was very patient and didn’t rush me.
- When I picked my car, they didn’t attempt to dissuade me from getting it or try to get me to buy a car that I couldn’t afford. That was MY CAR. And with all of the bells and whistles, I was paying a really fair price under Kelly Blue Book value.
- They offered me a fair trade-in value for my Sebring.
- I could contact my bank over the phone and have the loan-junk handled that way–I already knew the price and didn’t have to wait for someone in the “back room” to crunch the numbers
- I walk up and several salesmen pounce–I end up with a middle aged dude with an incredibly heavy accent.
- I tell them the model and features that I wanted in a Prius–instead, they showed me a bunch of things I didn’t ask for.
- Things that were either well above my budget OR they showed me Prius cars with ZERO bells and whistles, cars older than the ones at Carmax with less features for $5k-$8k more than what Carmax was offering me.
- They offered me less-than-jack-sh*t for my Sebring to trade-in (I was personally offended since I took great care of it and it was less than 6 years old).
- When I mentioned that CarMax had offered $6,000 more for my trade in, he suggested I sell my car to Carmax and buy my Prius with them (ha!).
- The salesman zeros in on ONE CAR he thinks will be “perfect” for me–that one without the bells and whistles but with the high price tag. It’s as if there are no other cars on the lot and he immediately goes in to “run the numbers” like I was the one that settled on that car.
- The sales person kept taking his time and mozying to the “back room” to get the guy to see what was the “best he could do for me” which was still next to nothing.
- The price for this used bland-mobile was MORE expensive than a brand new Prius C (a smaller version of the Prius).
- When he came back with the numbers breakdown, there was the price of the car and then a ton of hidden fees that jacked the rate up even more.
- When I told him several times that that wasn’t going to work for me, that the standard model of the used Prius should not be MORE expensive than its most tricked out version 2 years younger (the Carmax car), all he could say was that the dealership had better cars than the ones at Carmax and that I would be making a mistake buying from them.
NOW. Can I prove that the reason the salesman was so obtuse and underhanded with me was because I was a woman shopping for a car alone? Nope, I can’t do that. But when I saw DUDES on the lot helping other DUDES, and eavesdropped on conversations in the salesroom, I felt as if this guy was attempting to make decisions for me rather than listen to what I had to say because I was a lady. When I tried to take charge of everything, he talked down to me rather than talking WITH me.
After reading all that, I bet you can guess which one I went with–
PSYCHE! I left Carmax happy with my purchase, secure knowing that I paid the same price any other person would’ve paid, and also knowing that I got a great deal on a really great car.
- Buy used, save the difference.
- Go to Carmax, unless you’re really good at haggling or being obnoxiously assertive and calling chauvinists out on their bullhockey.
- This crap happens all the time (see the above meme!) so don’t take anyone’s nonsense. Also don’t feel like you HAVE to drag your guy-pal to the dealership to be treated fairly. Either they respect you OR you don’t buy from them.
- Do your research before you shop. Know what kind of prices you should be quoted for the make, model, year, and mileage on a car.
- Again: Don’t take anyone’s baloney!