Car-Buying Tip: To Avoid Headaches, Hassles, and Rip-offs, Never Set Foot in a Car Dealership

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While deals on cars may not be as extraordinary as they were last year, around New Year’s is always one of the best periods for getting deals on new vehicles.

Some dealerships do 70% of their December business in the last week of the year, according to a USA Today source, largely because of a combination of good deals and would-be buyers simply having the time to shop with time off from work.

Those buyers need not actually set foot in a dealership, however. As I’ve written before, car buying can be an insufferably painful experience, with tense negotiations, lots of confusing promotions and lingo, and very little reason to trust anything that anyone says.

The CEO of Hyundai North America acknowledged as much when he said:

“Americans would rather go to the dentist than visit a car dealer.”

A recent rehashed this quote while offering tips for consumers hoping to steer clear of bad customer service. Among the aggravations car buyers encounter are the giant time suck, which occurs for a strategic purpose, not simply because dealer salesmen are inefficient or clueless:

Dealerships use the game called “I have to go talk to my boss” to intentionally waste time, suck the consumer into a protracted visit and, theoretically, increase the likelihood of a sale. The dealership wastes even more customer time with slow contract preparation, signing and vehicle prep.

And then there’s the pain involved in simply getting a bottom line price:

Salesmen routinely obscure the real price of the car by presenting only the monthly payment to a consumer. The finance and insurance managers obfuscate further during contract preparation, where additions such as extended warranties often increase the price without a clear explanation of the actual cost of the add-on.

What can you do to avoid the hassles? Avoid the car dealership entirely, and that includes not going in even to pick the car up. The often-ignored advice from Edmunds is simply this:

I’ll repeat that the best approach is to use the Internet, have the car delivered and avoid going to dealerships altogether.

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