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Autobytel.com - What has your experience been?

SylviaSylvia Posts: 1,636
Have you used Autobytel? How did it work for you? Were you satisfied?
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Comments

  • I haven't used it, but a friend did and it just gave her a reference to one dealer in the area who gave her a fixed price. I just heard on KGO last Friday about a new service called revauto.com, that is a reverse auction. The blurb mentioned that dealers place bids to try to win the customer business, I am thinking about trying it.
  • bcbobbcbob Posts: 13
    and was promptly responded to by a dealer which was rather far away - 2 hour ferry ride and two hours of driving to get there. Beyond the initial contact via em-ail the dealer wouldn't use the computer, relying instead on phone and ax because he felt it more reliable. Gave him my specific requirements over the phone (including the factory codes) for a factory order, received a ax which was simply a manufacturer's printout of the model with my desired options, with a hand-written clause' for me to sign saying I agreed to buy the vehicle described subject to agreement on price. Had to call him to get a correction on the printout. Then had to ax it back with my signature on the 'clause'. It was only then that he taxed me a quote of selling price plus documentation' fee. I had to calculate and add in the various taxes to figure the out the door price.

    My feelings on it: Very polite dealer, seemed to want my business and was working hard to get it. I was somewhat miffed that I had to do so much over the phone/with axes - #1 if I didn't want to do it using on-line resources I could have started out by taxing my requirements to the various dealers and asking them to submit their best deal for my consideration, #2 axes are a pain, having to either import it into a word processor, attach a signature and export to my ax software, or print it out, sign it and scan it in to be taxed back out, #3 the clause really didn't need to be signed, so there was a layer of unnecessary crap I had to cut through before I finally ended up with the quote I was after.

    As for the quote: I filed the quote with the others I had solicited from more local dealers, none of which I would reveal to any other dealers. In the end the Autobytel quote was essentially the same as the locals whom I had visited in person, within a few $ and about $1k over dealer cost. Because the ferry ride back and forth would have cost me at least $150, assuming the only time I'd be visiting the dealer was when I picked up the car, plus costs of driving, plus sundry other costs incurred when 2 people travel a min 8 hrs, it ended up being more costly.

    In the end I thanked the Autobytel dealer and went in person to a dealer a bit down the road whom I felt most comfortable with, haggling the price down to within a couple of $ of Autobytel's quote.

    I like the idea of the reverse auction, but I would think you'd have to be careful you didn't have to go with the lowest bidder just so you could have some choice in the dealer you'd be buying from.
  • audia8qaudia8q Posts: 3,138
    your post is a perfect example why buying/referral services are a failure...
    they don't offer anything you cant get elsewhere doing business face to face...I realize that face to face is sorta out of fashion these days which is somewhat offensive to me (the I'm too busy stuff is BS)..Im glad you got what you wanted at the price u wanted but it was at the expense of somebody else...the guys who responded to your request, did the work, gave you a simple quick fair price, just like you wanted ( it is why you used ABT, isnt it?) and you just went somewhere else. Its the sales game and I'm not saying you did anything wrong, but it shows why dealer arent interested in middlemen and buying services. They are a huge cost for us as dealers and they just dont produce sales. Dealers are a very shrewd bunch and all the extra "fat" in a car sale has long been removed leaving nothing left when a middleman or service jumps in the mix...
    enjoy your car!!

    Rich
  • bcbobbcbob Posts: 13
    I'd like to enjoy my new car but I'm still waiting for it! Dealer said he had a build date of 12 Dec (only 6 1/2 weeks after I signed). He advises that it will arrive late Jan. Probably right; doubtful anything will be moving until after the holiday season. There's got to be a better way. Wish there was some way I could track it, too bad Doraville wasn't one of the plants GM was putting webcams into. Come on GM, get with it! There, I feel better.

    Back to topic: I disagree that ABT was a failure. In fact it worked just as it promised to - prompt response, low competitive no haggle price quote. Where it started to fall apart was #1 there wasn't an ABT affiliated dealer in my area and #2 the dealer wouldn't work via the PC, relying instead on phone and fax which made it inconvenient. There's not much ABT can do about #2, and it takes a dealer to sign up to resolve #1.

    Perhaps you call it a failure because I didn't buy from the ABT dealer. Well, I didn't buy from the two other dealers I visited in person, or the two others I dealt with over the phone either. Were they failures? What about the dealers of the competing makes and models whose ads caught my eye or whose cars I also researched? Or the used car dealers? Did I get what I wanted at the price I wanted at their expense too? Gosh, I could have bought from you but didn't... (let's drop it here, huh?). If your perspective is that a prospective customer who takes up the dealer's time by looking at the product on the lot owes it to the dealer to buy something from them, that the dealer has a right to be compensated for displaying their wares by anyone who looks at those wares (reminds me of a couple of back-alley merchants I ran across in Cairo some 25 years ago...), then maybe you can say a buyer who 'just goes somewhere else' for their deal does so at that dealer's expense. But a consumer doesn't 'owe' anyone their business. Car dealers are merchants like any other, they choose to offer goods for sale and set their prices according to the market. They are not entitled to a profit just because they do, that would be like my demanding my salary just for showing up and offering to work but not actually doing any. If I don't do any work I wouldn't get paid, why should a car dealer?

    I didn't buy from the dealer I did just because he offered the lowest price - all the initial quotes were pretty close but his was actually the highest. I returned to his lot because the reputation of his service department and after-sales support was the best compared to the other dealers, and on that basis gave him a chance to tip the scales with a price comparable to the others. Obviously he did. It still wasn't the lowest price I could have got but it was in the range I had set based the info I had on dealer cost and the minimum mark up standard fpor my region. I didn't appreciate the waiting game and other 'sales techniques' they used (I had to tell them I'd walk if they didn't stop with the BS) and I didn't relish haggling. I went to ABT to avoid the stress of all that.

    The reason I didn't go with their dealer wasn't because of the extra $ for travelling, it was the hassle of driving 1 hour to the ferry, 20-30 min waiting/loading, 1 3/4 hours sailing, and another hour driving to his lot. As it was the back and forth of driving to the dealer's lot, haggling on price, etc, took a fair bit of time. I could have made better use of that time fixing up the house, playing with my kids, or relaxing. Can't put a $ on that, but if I had spent the time working, well, my practice bills out at $95/hr.

    So why did I have to pay that cost? Why couldn't I just say I want this model in this colour with these options factory ordered, at the minimum mark-up, show me where to sign, here's my deposit, call me when it's ready for delivery. What would that take, 20 minutes? Why do I even have to go to the lot until it's ready? I hear you saying you find face to face being o
  • bcbobbcbob Posts: 13
    I hear you saying you find face to face being out of vogue somewhat offensive. My perspective is that just like any other store, I don't go to a car dealership to socialize, I go for business. If ABT can save me that business time so I can spend it with family and friends in activities of my choosing, well, all I have to say is get over it. After all, it is my time and I should have the right to decide with whom I spend it. Personally, I pine for the day when I can custom order my car using my PC, watch it get built, pick it up within 2 weeks without ever having to talk to a dealer until I do, and be billed factory cost plus a minimal dealer handling charge. From what the automakers are saying, it doesn't look like I'll be pining long.

    The reasons why dealers don't like the buying services is well documented in numerous topics throughout Town Hall and this topic joins those ranks. The point is well taken. Now can we please hear from people about their experience using Autobytel without cold water being thrown on their comments? Please?
  • audia8qaudia8q Posts: 3,138
    dont' count on that build date...GM announced a slew of plant closings due to poor sales.

    Rich
  • I requested a quote and got a call from a representative at a Houston area Nissan dealership (I lived there about a year ago.) He offered me something like $500 over invoice on a Quest minivan, just because I was an "internet customer."

    Funny thing is that the same person (I remembered his name and voice) offered us $200 over invoice when we stopped in the dealership a week earlier, within minutes of our arrival.

    Bottom line: I didn't expect (or want) a dealer to call me. Just e-mail me a quote. And make it the best deal you're willing to give. I could have gotten a better deal myself without Autobytel...they just had the dealer call me instead of me calling them.

    Finally, I got wise and bought a Honda Odyssey instead of a high-revving, small box like the Quest.
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 17,610
    Sorry, buy I think you'll be "pining" for a long long time.

    The internet does not sell cars. Car dealers do.

    The way AutobyTel is supposted to work is pretty simple. The shopper submits a request and gets a quote from an abt dealer.

    This is designed to eliminate all of the things the buyers *say* they dislike about buying a car. No "going back and forth" etc. Just a fast,professional way to buy a car with a minimum of fuss

    Sounds good, hub?

    Sometimes it does work in it's intended fashion, but usually the price shoppers are just looking for a number to shop with.

    This, of course negates the intended purpose of the BAT program.

    It's the same people who will tell you how much they hate "the process" that will grind us the most as they pit one dealer against the other.

    That's just the reality of it.
  • maryg2maryg2 Posts: 33
    I requested a quote on an Accord EX6 from Autobytel and was contacted the next day by a dealer in my local area (not the closest one, but within 20 miles) with a quote. It was about the same price as the Edmunds TMV minus the destination charge, so it seemed like a pretty good deal. The dealer kept in touch me during the month it took me to sell my car (it sold within a week after listing it with Edmunds). I think I could have gotten the car for less, but I was tired of dealing with car salespeople, and this dealer gave me every courtesy on the phone and when I visited the dealership. So tomorrow I am picking up my new car. I also requested a quote from CarPoint, but they never called me, and I had to call the dealer myself. His quote was higher than the Autobytel dealer, although he was closer to my house.
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 21,852
    I used Autobytel once in serious pursuit of a car, but admit I used it the wrong way. At the time, I didn't realize that those were no-haggle prices, so I just looked through listings like I would look through the Auto Trader or newspaper classifieds. At the time, I wanted a used Caprice, and found two at a dealership about 1/2 hour away...a '94 and a '96. The prices listed were $8260 and $13860, respectively.

    I emailed them, and a rep got right back to me, and I arranged to come in and check them out. I didn't care too much for the '94, and they wouldn't budge on the price of the '96. I still didn't realize the no-haggle aspect, until they finally told me that they give internet customers a break. If I just walked in off the street, the prices of those two cars would have been $10,995 and $15,995, respectively. BTW, they came down to $7860 on the '94, but still wouldn't budge on the '96, so I guess that shows that even no-haggle is subject to exceptions.

    Something else I notice about the listings on Autobytel...a lot of the pictures are taken with the dealership's sign in the background, so it's not hard to find out where the car is. What's to keep someone from finding the car on Autobytel, seeing the internet price, then just going directly to the dealership with that knowledge but not letting the dealer know?

    -Andre
  • bcbobbcbob Posts: 13
    Sorry I've been away for a bit, best of the season to you and yours.

    When I said I was pining, at the forefront of my mind was a Canadacar.com article discussing the automakers' movements toward e-commerce and an order-to-delivery production system driven by customer-specific demands. GM's purchasing chief, for example, is looking toward a 3 day turnaround from the time the order is placed to the time the customer takes delivery, production driven by those orders, and the customers' able to watch their car move along the assembly line (GM is already installing web cams in some plants).

    It's something akin to the Dell Computer model: Customer orders and pays on-line, takes delivery of a customized computer system. Now the article points out that cars are more complex than computers, and it doesn't say that customers will have direct access to the automaker's order system. But why can't that occur once the system is in place? The Dell principles could still be applied: Customer places a custom order on-line, pays a deposit via credit card, gets the car delivered to a nearby dealership for pick-up. I understand that the laws of most states and provinces currently require the sale to go through a dealer, but the process being done primarily on-line isn't precluded. Nor are changes to laws which for the most part were enacted before e-commerce was a pipe dream. And what's to stop the automaker from designating the dealership to where the car will be delivered as the selling dealer? The automakers could virtually wipe ABT and the like from the new car scene by doing it themselves.

    In actual fact the basics of such a system are there already: Had I used the ABT dealer (and as I said, if it weren't for the 8hrs+ of travelling to take delivery I would have) I would have faxed the signed sales agreement to the dealer, given my credit card # for a deposit, and wouldn't have had to see him until my vehicle was ready. Before ABT I could have solicited quotes by fax. And if I really wanted to I could have used a buying service to do the shopping and deliver the car to my home, no dealer contact period (but where's the savings?). So what I'm pining for isn't that far a leap.

    As for the shopping a number stuff: I'm having some difficulty understanding. Do I misread when I read that dealers resent buyers shopping a number between different dealers? If I am misreading or missing something please correct me. If I'm not then please enlighten me as to why it's wrong for a buyer to get different price quotes, and go with the one they feel is best or ask for a yet better price if they don't like the quotes they get.
  • fsmilfsmil Posts: 1
    Shopped via autobytel and then went to the dealership to meet the salesman. He lied to me about the fuel economy of a Dodge Dakota pickup. I bought the truck with the final consideration being that milage. I've been sorry ever since. My average is about 13mpg and they say there's nothing that can be done. (V6 automatic 2wd ext cab)
  • tonychrystonychrys Posts: 1,310
    How could he "lie" to you? If it was a new truck, the EPA ratings would be right there listed on the window sticker.

    If it was used, and you didn't bother to check (very easy through any car site like Edmunds, Carpoint, KBB, etc.), then you only have yourself to blame. I'm not a car salesman, but there is a thing called due diligence and common sense.

    And also, Autobytel is only a middleman, the dealer sells the car.
  • raybearraybear Posts: 1,776
    I was an ABT dealer for BMW's I honestly tried to offer my best price to the ABT customer. Sales weren't all that great so we dropped the program. Maybe a more aggressively priced dealer would have done better, but I have my doubts. Many of the customers were noncommittal over buying a car, and it got to be so frustrating we just dropped the program altogether.

    We tried a few other internet services. After sampling them I wound up quitting the dealership and went to work for one of the internet companies. I have to say my success rate is much better today, and I get to work with a lot of really great dealers and customers.
  • It was bad enough the dealer they referred me to was 55 miles away. When I got there, they misquoted the MSRP (somehow the car's price went up over night)and made an offer for $1800 less than the new sticker. Which was fine, but they only offered me $7500 for my trade that was appraised by Edmunds at $10200. The told me there were too many SUV's available, and the bottom fell out on the resale market. Of course, I didn't see one on their lot.
  • audia8qaudia8q Posts: 3,138
    sorry to inform you but SUV's are huge dog's in the market right now...they dont even bring wholesale book let alone the often fantasy numbers found on the internet.

    Rich
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 17,610
    I didn't know Edmunds could now actually appraise cars over the internet! I am impressed! :)

    Seriously, Rich is correct.

    But it also depends on the SUV. If it's a domestic, these are REALLY soft.

    The gas prices aren't helping.

    But, if you think it's worth more, spend the bucks and run an ad. Heck, you never know. It might be exactly what someone is looking for.
  • I DON'T ENJOY THE HOURS SPENT AT A DEALERSHIP OR DO I HAVE THEM TO SPEND. I TRIED CARS DIRECT BUT FIND THEY ONLY DEAL WITH A DEALERSHIP 6 HOURS FROM MY HOME. TRIED TO CONTACT DRIVE OFF COULD NOT GET THOUGH. AND LAST I TIRED AUTOBYTEL AND THE PERSON WOULD ONLY TELL ME WHERE THEIR DEALERSHIP WAS LOCATED WHICH THE WAY WAS LOCALLY AND I WAS AWARE OF THAT ALREADY. HOW CAN I BUY A CAR? DOES ANYONE HAVE SOOM SUGGESTIONS?
  • tcasboytcasboy Posts: 214
    If you dont have too much time to spend, you should do your research, determine which car(s) you want, which options, and what you are willing to pay. You can either walk into a dealer(s), make your offer, leave your number and walk away. Or you could fax several dealers your offer, but I've found that most dealers will be more willing to come down on a car that they have in stock, so it would help to go by the dealer to see if they have any models equipped the way you want them. I have bought cars over the phone after checking the lot, meeting a salesrep, leaving an offer and doing the fine tuning of the deal over the phone. Its only hard and time consuming if you let it. Make your case and if they won't deal, walk away and go to another dealer. Eventually they will either call you back or some other dealer will make a deal, provided your offer is reasonable. Thats where the research comes into play. Good luck.
  • The easiest way to do it is simple.

    See those huge dealers that run screaming ads that are right off the highway? The ones with Huge baloons and free hot dogs? "We'll pay off your trade no matter wha you owe" "Open till Midnight!!!!" etc... Know the ones I mean?

    Avoid em.

    Figure out what you want, a test drive of course, is a good idea. Then once you've decided EXACTLY the car that you want, tou can do one of a few things:

    1) Walk in blind. Bad idea.

    2) Research the car you want. Read the message boards on here to get a general idea of what the car seems to be selling for, this works with more common cars. Figure that if 10 people in LA posted that they bought Accords, and 8 of them paid about $500 over, with a couple claiming to have bough them for $500 under invoice, then figure that about 500 over inv is market. Also look at TMV to give you a ballpark. This should give you an idea of roughly what to pay.

    Now that you've gotten your reseach done, you can either walk into the dealer and make an offer "I'll buy this car right NOW for $X" or you can try faxing that offer to a dealership.

    Faxing a "I want your best price" offer can often cause aggravation. First, as a dealer, I throw them out. For a simple reason: I've found that one of two things will happen: I give an agressive price and it's bounced off another dealer who will always beat or match it, or the customer will get lowballed by an unethical dealer. The faxed offer is much more sensible. I think the key is to concentrate on getting a fair price and once you get it, to grab it. Any number you get can be beaten, the key is to get a fair price from a place you feel comfortable doing business with.

    Bill
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