Car Dealers’ Dirty Secret: There’s a Better (and Cheaper) Way to Buy

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eHow Money Blog

Fact: Getting a new car is awesome.

Fact: Buying one blows.

Here’s a tip—skip the car lot feeding frenzy altogether, and go straight for the 7½ floor of car dealerships: the Internet Department.

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Internet Departments do not allow you to inhabit the body of John Malkovich. Sorry, they just save you money.

What’s that? According to Philip Reed of car buying guide Edmunds.com, most dealerships have one. An untouted boon to car buyers everywhere, this department offers the one thing the lot doesn’t: a sales force with a salary. They get bonuses based on the volume of cars they move, so they’re more likely to give you the best possible deal. The guys on the lot, on the other hand, earn more as you pay more.

Here’s how to get the best deal, according to Reed: Call all the relevant car dealerships in your area and ask for their Internet Department. Armed with their fax numbers or email addresses, send a note to each department asking for their best deal on car X. Let them know you’re comparison shopping.

“They know what the dealerships in their area are [pricing cars at] and will bid competitively and send back quotes—usually within $400 of the lowest price,” he said. That’s a good deal, and all you did was copy and paste an email.

A final pointer:

If you email an Internet Department and a salesman calls you and tries to get you to come in, for the love of God, don’t do it! Some shady dealerships try to funnel their Internet leads to the regular sales team—thereby negating the perks of dealing with an Internet Department.

Also, remember: Even when you’re dealing with Internet Departments, don’t show fear. After all, they’re still selling cars.

How Do We Know All This? Cuz we’re brilliant. Also:
Deloitte study: Internet Departments are moving out of the 7½ floor. Don’t thank us, thank Gen Y.
Edmunds.com has the scoop on how Internet Departments were created, who inhabits them and what to expect.
In fact, Edmunds.com has two scoops.
Philip Reed walked into an Internet Department, walked out with $1,000 in savings, and lived to tell the tale.
Car salesmen vs. Internet Departments: It’s like the Sharks vs. the Jets, but with less dancing and more navel-gazing.
Didn’t get that 7½ floor reference? Hey, how old are you, kid?

—Erin Barajas, Serious Coin contributor

Photo credit: Screened
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