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Experience with e-mail only negotiations?



  • "How can we appraise a car... That we can't see?"

    The Real-World Trade-In Values forum on this web site does exactly that- and is 31,300 posts strong now!
  • Besides, many of these online trade-in appraisal forms are very lengthy and detailed- much more so than the suggested form for the "Real-World Trade-In Values" forum.

    Just check the following one out, which I have pasted in text format from one local dealer's website.

    Contact informtation
    First Name:
    Last Name:
    State Issued: (choose one)
    (Area Code) Daytime Phone:

    Vehicle information
    Doors choose one: 2 Door 4 Door Hatchback
    Trim Level (if known)
    Interior Color
    Exterior Color
    Vehicle Identification No.:
    Transmission choose one: Automatic Manual
    Lien Holder
    Estimated Payoff

    Vehicle options
    AM/FM Radio choose one: Yes No
    Cassette choose one: Yes No
    CD choose one: Yes No
    CD Changer choose one: No In Dash External
    Power Windows choose one: Yes No
    Power Locks choose one: Yes No
    A/C choose one: Yes No
    Rear A/C choose one: Yes No
    ABS choose one: Yes No
    Cruise Control choose one: Yes No
    Tilt Control choose one: Yes No
    Roof Rack choose one: Yes No
    Sunroof choose one: No Sliding Pop-up
    Alloy Wheels choose one: Yes No
    Drive Train choose one: 4WD AWD FWD RWD
    Tow Package choose one: Yes No
    Dual Air Bags choose one: Yes No
    Side Air Bags choose one: Yes No
    Power Seat(s) choose one: No Driver Pass Both
    Leather Seating choose one: Yes No

    Overall Vehicle Condition
    Rate the condition of the following: 1 being Poor, 10 being Excellent.
    Metal/Paint (Scratches, dings, dents, rust, fading) choose one:
    Tires (50% tread wear - replacement) choose one: Upholstery (Tears, burns, stains) choose one:
    Glass (Fractures, spiders, chips) choose one:
    Clutch (Clutch slipping) choose one or n/a:
    Brakes (Squeaky, noisy) choose one:

    Collision History
    Has your vehicle ever been involved in a collision? choose one: yes no
    If yes, was a Body Shop estimate of repairs written? choose one: n/a yes no
    Were Body Shop repairs performed? choose one: n/a yes no
    Was the vehicle repaired to your complete satisfaction? choose one: n/a yes no

    Exterior Condition
    Are any of the painted surfaces scratched, rusted, or faded? choose one: yes no
    Are there any dents and dings? choose one: yes no
    Have any of the painted surfaces been repainted or touched up? choose one: yes no
    Does any of the glass have fractures, spiders, or chips? choose one: yes no

    Interior Condition
    Does the upholstery have tears, burns, or stains? choose one: yes no
    Does the stereo system or any of its components need repairs? choose one: yes no
    Do all of the gauges and dash functions work? choose one: yes no

    Mechanical Condition
    Does the engine need any repairs? choose one: yes no
    Does the transmission need any repairs? choose one: yes no
    Is the clutch slipping or need any repairs? choose one: n/a yes no
    Are the brakes squeaking or in need of repair? choose one: yes no
    Has the transmission or engine ever been replaced? choose one: yes no

    Has the vehicle ever been a taxi, rental car, or police car? choose one: yes no
    Has the vehicle ever been in water deeper than the midpoint of the tires? choose one: yes no
    Has the vehicle ever been declared a "Flood" vehicle? choose one: yes no
    Is the vehicle's frame in need of repair? choose one: yes no
    Has your vehicle's frame ever been repaired? choose one: yes no
    Has the vehicle ever had a salvage title? choose one: yes no
    Is this a "lemon law buyback" vehicle choose one: Yes NO
    Has the vehicle ever been declared a total loss? choose one: yes no
    Is the vehicle air bag in working order? choose one: yes no
    Has the vehicle air bag ever been deployed? choose one: yes no
    Do you have any of the service records for this vehicle? choose one: yes no
    Do you have records for any oil change within the last 5000 miles? choose one: yes no
    Is the catalytic converter attached and working properly? choose one: yes no
    Are the inspection stickers current? choose one: yes no
    Has the spare tire ever been used? choose one: yes no
    Do any of the tires need to be replaced? choose one: yes no
    Is the pollution control equipment attached and working properly? choose one: yes no

    Is there anything else we should know about this vehicle?

    Isell, you mean to say that you couldn't give a value based off of the above questionnaire (filled in completely of course, you can even run a CarFax off the VIN to confirm), with a simple disclaimer such as "assuming your trade is as-described..." ?
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 17,593
    We still may have to call and get bids on it and nobody is going to bid on a sight unseen trade.

    I don't know why it's a big deal to simply drive to a dealership?

    " Has the spare tire ever been used?"What a dumb question!

    I doubt if anybody would have the patience to fill up such a questionaire. I know I sure wouldn't!
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 17,593
    Terry does a great job in that thread, but his estimates are exactly that...estimates based on his knowledge of the market. I doubt he would pay those dollars on cars he can't see.
  • In my opinion, the whole process of getting quotes online is to find out which dealer to visit. So you contact, maybe, 5-8 dealers in your vicinity and ask for quotes. The ones who respond with attractive numbers are the ones you pick from, the list of dealers to go in and visit. Ideally, your first visit is to your top choice from among the responders, and hopefully everything goes well. When going in, you already know they have a suitable vehicle in stock and you have an attractive price in hand. You buy the car and not only have you saved negotiating time and effort at the dealership, but you can rest easy knowing you got a good deal based on your research beforehand.

    Now, if you don’t have a trade-in, of course you could instead just look up the new car’s invoice price online and head in to the nearest dealer with an offer in mind (a.k.a. “the Bobst method”). This is quick and usually painless.

    The reality, however, is that the majority of new car buyers have trades. And, if one dealers’ new car quote is $400 less than all the others, but they are $900 less on the trade value, then the buyer has lost money overall by purchasing there. From the posts on this board it seems unreasonable to expect a trade-in value from the dealer over the Internet. So are these buyers supposed to go through the whole process (including trade-in appraisal) at 3-4 dealers before buying?

    As I stated before, the trade-in value doesn’t have to be set in stone; a simple disclaimer would do. I think that Terry and other experts in “Real-World Trade-In Values” would write a check for one of the cars they appraise, assuming it was as described and met their approval before they actually handed the money over. I mean, it's not like the dealer has to cut a check before the customer ever comes in and they get a look. What's wrong with a good faith estimate? (By the way, I filled out the trade-in form I posted earlier, and it took less than five minutes).

    My main point is: if buyers don’t know how to use consumer books like KBB and Edmunds TMV (all “excellent” condition, etc) or the values from such sources are high or low on a certain model, and dealers won’t quote values based on their dealer books, sales histories, and / or auction prices, then how is that buyer to know they are getting top dollar, “all the money” for their trade? Should they go to CarMax (if one is available) for an appraisal before going to the dealer of their choice to have something to judge the dealer’s trade offer by, or what?

    It would be a shame that, with all of the information available today, when hundreds of cars are bought ‘sight unseen’ off of eBay every day, and when some dealers are finally starting to embrace online negotiating on their cars; that a consumer cannot use the online negotiating process if they have a trade-in.

    Are we are back to square one, as you say, “I don't know why it's a big deal to simply drive to a dealership?” (Do you mean, why would you want to use the Internet when you can just trust the dealer?)
  • rayainswrayainsw Posts: 2,496
    My current sedan ( 2005 Grand Prix GXP ) was purchased with 1 telephone conversation – and 4 or 5 emails. Largely because the Dealer is out-of-state, and ( at the time ) was the only dealer that was a “no haggle” “one price” & therefore offered this car for a reasonable price, had a car with the equipment I wanted & nothing else, and offered me ( sight unseen ) a significantly larger allowance for my trade than 3 local dealers I tried to negotiate with. ( North & East of Metro Atlanta. )

    From an email quote: “We sell all of our new vehicles at GM factory invoice plus $49. We do not have any dealer fees of any kind”.

    This dealer ( Rodes in Sylva, NC ) offered me over $1,000 more for my trade than anyone local. He offered the allowance, “assuming condition is as represented”. It was, and the deal was consummated in about a half hour. After I took a 10 minute “shake down” drive in the GXP. It took me about 1.5 hours to drive to Sylva and 1.5 to return, but I knew that all was settled before I started the drive!


    The NC Dealer offered me almost $1,500 more than any local dealer I tried to do business with . .
    Sight unseen - based on my description of the car.
    Confirmed when presented.
    Now, my car was near perfect. . .
    By that I mean:
    No mechanical issues.
    Just checked for tire wear, brake wear, etc.
    Proof of all Dealer service. (Local Dealer)
    Exterior = Perfect. Not even a single door ding.
    Interior = Perfect. No wear, scratches, etc.
    One and only trade allowance number the NC Dealer offered was within a couple hundred dollars of KBB and Edmunds number.

    “I don't know why it's a big deal to simply drive to a dealership?”

    One reason that I generally avoid spending much time at any dealership is that many of their typical tactics ( still employed after all these years at many dealerships ) are designed to keep you there until they wear you down. Various versions of the classic “bump” tactic, for one example. They want me to make the first “offer”. I find this tiresome and annoying and a waste of my time.

    Salesperson: Make your best offer.
    I will then decide if that meets what I want to pay.
    If not, I move on.
    End of story.

    My “local” Corvette dealer salesperson ( by far the largest Corvette inventory anywhere near Atlanta ) allowed me \ even encouraged me to test drive 2 new C6s. I am therefore willing to sit down with that salesperson, as requested. But the ‘sitting’ will be brief. I already know exactly what their “fees” are, so there are 2 numbers to determine. 1) The lowest amount they will accept for a new ( ordered ) 2007 equipped to an MSRP of approx $52.5K, and 2) their allowance offer on my trade. If they do not meet my expectation, I have a GMID Certificate & I will buy from the Dealer close to where my Mom lives that will accept GMID on a new Corvette. 1-way flight & drive back home. ( I am aware that in Georgia, there are specific sales tax implications trade vs. straight purchase with no trade. I would prefer to purchase my new Corvette locally, and have the service performed at that same dealership. And that scenario has a dollar value to me. )

    I will no longer play any Dealership games. I am well aware that I will not “out-negotiate” someone that negotiates price on cars all day every day, and has for years – where ( well informed as I try to be ) I only do this once every 2 years or so.

    - Ray
    Close to ordering . . .
  • Now that is a dealer I could do business with! That is a great example of what I have been talking about, a true "internet dealership" !
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 17,593
    I read all of these posts with great interest.

    I see what you want, it just isn't realistic.

    I think people would get highballed on their trade values in order to get them to come in etc.

    I like fast, easy deals too. I am VERY busy and don't have the time to play games.
  • rayainswrayainsw Posts: 2,496
    "I see what you want, it just isn't realistic. "

    In what way, exactly?
    - Ray
    Very, very curious.....
  • I doubt if anybody would have the patience to fill up such a questionaire. I know I sure wouldn't!

    I would not have the patience to read such a long questionaire, let alone fill it up.
  • "I see what you want, it just isn't realistic. "

    It must be the old "why would you want to use the internet when you can just trust the dealer?"
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 17,593
    Some people have their own ideas about how businesses should be run. Some of these ideas make sense and others do not. That's all.
  • rayainswrayainsw Posts: 2,496
    "Some people have their own ideas about how businesses should be run. Some of these ideas make sense and others do not. That's all. "

    So - what DOES it have to do with?


    So - the real world example from last year that I posted here is irrelevant?

    I don't understand. I am willing to listen, if you'll post some reasons why you think that it would not work? At least for you & for your dealership.

    Having seen it work first hand, I really don't understand your response....

    - Ray
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 17,593
    And that's what matters.

    I have already posted the reasons but I will do so again.

    Some (most)people overstate the condition of their trades.

    And some dealers will tell the customer what they want to hear to get them in. Then the story will change.

    " Oh, I didn't know your trade has a strong dog odor"

    " Oh, I must have looked on the wrong line in the NADA book"

    " I didn't realize your trade was a 5 speed...sorry, I must have missed that".

    In a perfect world, your "remote control" method of buying a car would work and sometimes it very well could work but there are pitfalls.
  • Sure there are pitfalls, but that is true no matter how you buy a car!

    Of course some dealers will give the customer the trade value they want to hear to get them in, then the story will change. But it should not happen any more than with new car quotes without a trade involved:

    " Oh, I must have looked at the wrong invoice. "

    " Oh, I thought you wanted a 5 speed in your new car, sorry. "

    " We just sold the car I quoted, but over here we have one you'll really want. "

    Just because some of that goes on, doesn't mean that the Internet doesn't work for most people. More and more people are proving that it does.

    We just need more dealers and salespeople who are open to going all (or at least most) of the way, as I described in my first post.

    Or else, as I asked before, what are the people with trade-ins supposed to do, if they either don't know how to use the information available to them, or the books are wrong? It is impractical to try and get 3 or 4 dealers to appraise their car in person so that they will know they aren't getting fleeced.

    Internet quotes just seems like a good solution.
  • dad23dad23 Posts: 430
    We have an outfit here in town called Auto MDs They don't do any repairs but offer independent evaluations on vehicles people might be looking to purchase.

    I don't know if it would ever fly, but what if someone came up with a similar company that could go around offering independent appraisals on used vehicles, at least to get an idea of what to expect at the dealership? I guess the dealerships would have to decide whether to recognize these values, but could always negotiate them one way or another, depending on their current inventory needs, etc. Just a thought, feel free to rip it to shreds, it's early here, haven't had my caffeine yet ;)
  • Hopefully someone can help me. I am going to buy a car by the end of this month & I know what I want. I've emailed dealers in the area telling them what I want, when I want to buy, when I can give them a deposit, etc. One guy said "I don't have what you want but I'll try & find it & get back to you" - he never did. I've emailed him twice since - no response from him. Should I keep hounding the guy? Other dealerships also don't respond back at all. How do I handle this? I don't have the time to drive from dealer to dealer with 2 small children in tow & deal with it that way. Suggestions?
  • bobstbobst Posts: 1,783
    No, you should not keep hounding the guy. If he wanted to respond, he would have. What is the sound of one hand clapping?

    A lot of dealers have websites that give their inventories. You could try checking them.

    Going to a dealer in person is very painless if you first determine the exact out-the-door price you are willing to pay. Then go to the dealer and make that offer contingent on you liking the car after a test drive.

    If they don't accept your offer within 5-10 minutes, then leave. If they accept, then take the car for a test drive. If you like it, then pay for it and drive it home.

    Sure, you might get a better deal if you or your kids are skilled at negotiation, but my way is simple and easy for those of us who don't know how to negotiate.
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 17,593
    Have you considered getting a babysitter and simply going in in person?
  • jipsterjipster Posts: 5,345
    First off, find a baby sitter for your kids. Go to car lots that will have the vehicle you are looking for. I would suggest not having the dealership locate a car for you, as it can lead to nasty complications.

    Have all you pricing information with you. Test drive the vehicle first. Then if you like the car you can make an offer.

    Getting an e-mail price from a dealership can be done, though for most people that post here it is a rare occurance. Most dealerships use the "free e-mail pricing" as a gimmick to bring in the foot traffic.

    You could always go to a dealership and get the vin number from a car you like. Then e-mail the dealership and ask for their best price. They may take you a little more seriously if they see you've put some effort into the process.
This discussion has been closed.