Sunday, November 20, 2011

Buying a Car: Part 2

Update for this week: I've received a bunch of different offers from a ton of different dealerships for a new 2012 Nissan Versa SV sedan.  Thanks!  The best walk out the door price I have is for $14,975 from a dealership in Chicago (a hard-fought price received after extensive haggling).  If you take a look at this site, it says the invoice for a new 2012 Nissan Versa SV sedan is $14,808.  From what I understand, that means that the dealer is buying the car for $14,808.  So if I can buy it off him for $14,975, that's a pretty great deal (and $345 better than buying it for the quoted MSRP of $15,320).

Of course, I don't think the dealer was born yesterday and is going through the hassle of selling a car to only net a couple hundred bucks.  The dealer that gave me that price is a very large dealership in Chicago, so I imagine that they get large bulk discounts on their cars.  So, I assume they bought the car for much less than the $14,808 invoice that spits out.

Furthermore, I'm shopping for a car close to Thanksgiving.  There aren't a ton of car buyers at this time of year.  That fact coupled with us being close to the end of the month means that the dealership is probably trying to squeeze sales in to meet their quota.  That means I'll get a better deal.

That's what appears to be a great price from a Chicago dealer but I would like to purchase the car in New Jersey.  That's because the car will be titled in New Jersey and primarily driven there, so if I buy in Chicago I will have to (1) do titling out-of-state, which could be a hassle and (2) pay to ship the car.  Not to fear: with that $14,975 walk out the door price in hand, I emailed a few New Jersey dealers to see if they could match it.  Already a couple have, so I may have the car by the end of the week.

So, at the end of the day I should have a new car with a price that I can live with.  Still, there's a lot of bullshit haggling involved.  I've sent and received around 25 emails.  I've gotten a bunch of phone calls.  I wish I could go on the Nissan website and just build the car, get a price without any haggling, and order the car there.  You can go on the Nissan website and build the car, but at the end of the process you still have to talk to dealerships.  This reminded me of an experience I had abroad.

When I went to South Korea, I was surprised that there was no tipping.  I had a great tour guide for one of the imperial palaces, and slipped him the equivalent of a $10 or so at the end of the tour.  He just looked at it and didn't know what to with it.  My girlfriend had to explain that it was an American custom and then he slowly put the money in his pocket with a quizzical look on his face.

The thing is, I had great service wherever I went in South Korea, so they clearly don't need tipping as an incentive.  In America, tipping is customary but it is a tremendously inefficient tradition.  Often, the waitress checks in every five minutes trying to secure a good tip, but it's more annoying than helpful.  And what is a good tip?  15% for okay service, more for better?  Do you calculate that before or after taxes?  What if you had a good waiter but the guy who gave you the dishes spilled the food everywhere and was rude?  I've seen Fark threads with 500+ comments on how to properly tip.

At the end of the day, it's just a waste of time.  Get rid of the tip, pay the waiting staff a living wage, and avoid all the hassle.  Same thing goes for car dealerships.  Let me build the car online and then order it.  Everyone who gets the same accessories gets the same price.  Sure, car dealers wouldn't be able to screw over little old ladies.  But it would greatly streamline the car buying process.  The average margin over invoice would go down, but so many more cars would be sold that it would surely make up for it.

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