Could there be a way to eliminate not only the stress and hassle of buying a new car, but save you time and money as well? You bet there is.
The results of a new survey naming the worst part of buying a new car aren’t particularly surprising. At the top of the list: negotiating price. The vast majority (62%) of participants in the survey, conducted on the behalf of CarFinance.com, pointed to haggling over prices as the aspect of car buying that they hated the most. The next worst part of the experience, arranging or negotiating car financing, got just 20% of the vote.
While most people don’t enjoy the games played and price negotiating at car dealerships, one group of consumers seems to hate it more than others: Gen Y. Ideally, millennials wish purchasing a car involved little or no haggling. That’s not how things work—not if you hope to get a decent price anyway—and so Gen Y tends to view the car buying experience as extremely stressful. Perhaps the uncomfortable, stressful ways cars are sold and prices are decided upon are among the reasons why this generation has been largely uninterested in car ownership.
Ideally, millennials, who came of age with Twitter and one-click online shopping, also want the car purchase to be a quick transaction. Typically, dealerships like to drag out the experience, with salesmen taking slow walks back and forth to “ask the manager” about pricing and options, and with buyers being forced to endure pitches for upgrades, financing, extended warranties, and whatnot. The idea is to wear the consumer down, so that he or she is too tired to think, haggle, or put up a fight anymore, and winds up agreeing with whatever the dealership presents.
It’s not unusual for the experience to eat up several hours, and that’s several hours longer than many consumers wish it would take. Recently, an Edmunds post suggested a fairly simple solution to eliminate many car-buying headaches. Not only does this recommended method save time, it also gets rid of some of the stress and pressure, and ideally helps you think—and negotiate—better.
What’s the suggestion? Handle all of the negotiations via phone or e-mail, and get your new-car purchase delivered to your home. By doing so, you can “avoid hours of waiting at a dealership and also means you don’t have to run the gauntlet of high-pressure sales in the finance and insurance office,” according to Edmunds Philip Reed. The strategy of never setting foot in the dealership has been recommended before, but considering that today’s consumers are more time-sensitive and comfortable with online shopping than ever, the idea of home delivery especially makes sense.
Reed explains how, after you’ve finalized pricing details via phone or e-mail, home delivery works:
Your salesperson will drive the new car to you and bring the sales documents for signing. When the salesman arrives, verify that the car is the year, make and model you chose, and that it has the agreed-upon equipment. Be sure that it is in new condition (even new cars can suffer scratches or dings during shipping). Check to make sure it doesn’t have more than about 100 miles on the odometer (from test-drives and the delivery).
The entire transaction can be completed in about 20 minutes. By contrast, picking up a new car at a dealership can easily take up three hours, even if you’ve already negotiated the price and payment method.
If you’re negotiating from your laptop, rather than in the high-pressure environment behind a desk at a car dealership, you’re more likely to be in the state of mind to notice and make a stink about details such as “doc fees.” These are the charges for all of the documents involved in taking ownership of a new car, including registration, processing paperwork—and even the costs of paper, ink, and postage.
Advocates such as Consumer Reports say that doc fees should never amount to more than $100 or so, but an Arizona Republic story highlighted just how varied the fees can be. The average cost of doc fees in Florida is $610, highest in the country. In Arizona, among the top 10 for highest fees with an average of $398, an investigation revealed that some dealerships charge as little as $199, while others tack on as much as $539. Some states, by contrast, cap the maximum amount dealerships can charge in doc fees at $100 (Louisiana), $75 (New York, Minnesota), or $56 (California).
(MORE: 4 Rules for Getting a Car Loan)
The takeaway is that, in states where doc fees aren’t capped, consumers can and should ask for a break when the charges are unreasonably high. Dealerships may claim that it’s against state law for them to adjust their doc fees, but there’s always something they can do for you. Two examples: giving coupons for free oil changes, or simply lowering the agreed-upon purchase price.