How to interact with car dealers when buying a car?

23 posts in this topic

Shopping for a (new) car recently, I went into five dealers, each of a different brand, and I'm very surprised as to how laid back and non-pushy car dealers are (although I know this is somewhat bullshit as similar rules apply to car shopping from usually-scummy dealers internationally).

 

Basically nobody bothered to greet or approach me in all but one dealership (guy asks me if he could help me, but I attribute it to because it was 9am on a Saturday).

 

I've approached the sales people sitting at their desks at two dealership and gotten them to talk about the car I was interested in, but I was surprised they were not really pushy.

 

I'm not really offered test drives. After 15-20 mins talking about price, they don't seem to put in effort to keep me and let me walk away when I say "I'll think about it".

 

Worth noting is I dress casual because it's summer and hot as shit, my workplace has lax dress code but as a result, there's a possibility I look too 'poor' for the cars I'm looking at.

 

Is this normal or is it because I'm speaking English, look like a foreigner and/or don't dress up enough?

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14 minutes ago, Corgism said:

Shopping for a (new) car recently, I went into five dealers, each of a different brand, and I'm very surprised as to how laid back and non-pushy car dealers are (although I know this is somewhat bullshit as similar rules apply to car shopping from usually-scummy dealers internationally).

 

Basically nobody bothered to greet or approach me in all but one dealership (guy asks me if he could help me, but I attribute it to because it was 9am on a Saturday).

 

I've approached the sales people sitting at their desks at two dealership and gotten them to talk about the car I was interested in, but I was surprised they were not really pushy.

 

I'm not really offered test drives. After 15-20 mins talking about price, they don't seem to put in effort to keep me and let me walk away when I say "I'll think about it".

 

Worth noting is I dress casual because it's summer and hot as shit, my workplace has lax dress code but as a result, there's a possibility I look too 'poor' for the cars I'm looking at.

 

Is this normal or is it because I'm speaking English, look like a foreigner and/or don't dress up enough?

I also faced same experience when I was looking to buy a car 2 years back. Expecting others valuable expereinces.

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24 minutes ago, Corgism said:

Is this normal or is it because I'm speaking English, look like a foreigner and/or don't dress up enough?

 

I'm not quite sure what you expect right now? The salespeople are relaxed, not pushy - what exactly are your expectations? 

If you want to take a test drive, just ask for it.

 

 

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It was the same for us as well. No pressure, no tactics. We looked around a few dealers and if we had questions they gave us the information, we took a test drive, but there was no hard sell. 

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That's just bog standard German sales / customer service...i.e. none. That's all it is. Customers are an annoyance to German sales assistants and they would just rather they went away.

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I see from your profile you're American (I am too), so I think your experience boils down to the new car customer / selling experience in Germany vs the USA. I say that because I recently spent the past 2 months new car shopping, visited about 7 dealerships, and in the beginning, my experience was similar to yours.

German car salespeople do not seem as motivated as American car salespeople, and they definitely do not seem like they have the same pressure to sell, probably because they earn decent base salaries. When browsing at the dealership, if I had questions, I needed to seek out a salesperson to help me, and it wasn't always straightforward, especially since I went in with my American mentality that all of the salespeople should drop everything and come and assist me and beg me to buy a car. No one ever approached me at any dealership, even after I was browsing around for 20 minutes. I'd approach people sitting at a desk and was often made to wait while the person at the desk appeared to me typing away at the computer or on a mobile phone (I guess they were working), or, sometimes they went to find another salesperson to help me. Also, I think certain salespeople are assigned to certain cars because in one place, I had a salesperson helping me for one model, but when I asked to see another, he said that I had to speak to his colleague.

Based on learning that German car salespeople expect their customers to be well prepared in making their purchase, I adjusted my approach. I used the online configurators from the car company websites and chose the features I wanted to get an idea of the prices, and then I would generate a PDF of the configuration and email local dealers and see if they had it in stock and if they were willing to let me test drive a similar model. This worked much better. I got fast responses and pretty much everyone offered test drives.

 

Also, RE test drives, if you're not having any luck finding dealerships that offer them (I was surprised that many dealerships in Berlin do not offer them), request one online and then you'll be contacted by the car company, who will make an appointment for you at the dealership nearest to where you live. Note, they just give you the car and you can take it out for 2-3 hours, after you sign a stack of papers (check your own car insurance / Haftpflichtversicherung before taking any test drives).
 
Good luck!

 

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That's just bog standard German sales / customer service...i.e. none.

Thats not entirely true.

 

I was in the market for a car at the end of January this year as I had to hand back my much-loved VW Touran Diesel upon retirement.

 

1) I visited the local VW dealership where my comapny cars had been serviced (never bought a car there).

    I had often chatted with the salesman (the only one) & first off he calculated what my company car would cost 2nd hand so as to put the

    screws on the leasing company to get them to make a better offer if I would take car over.

    Then he made an Angebot for a VW Sportsvan but there were no Sondermodelle available & every extra screw cost money & 3-4 months wait.

    One has to say that the sales team in the head office (next town) are a slimy as they come.

 

    So onto:

 

2) SEAT.  The local SEAT garage has a pretty good service reputation.  2 Sales guys were chatting, as I entered showroom one immediately

    stood up & tried to usher me towards the largest SUV Panzer that they had.  I toned him down to a smaller model & Angebot was generated immediately.

    Also 3-4 months wait.

 

3) Wife & daughter went looking (they had different ideas to mine).  They first went to BMW (daughter fancies a Mini) where they were totally ignored.

    At Mercedes they were met by a "helpful" salesman

    At Nissan (daughter & son drive small Nissans from there) they were met by helpful sales guy but I didn't like the cars.

    Nissan salesman stated that the VW Touran "was a Raumwunder".

 

4) Finally to Toyota (many moons ago both my wife & I had had 2nd hand Toyotas).

     They had several cars in showroom - first looked at a Verso (sort of Japanese Touran).  Next to it was a Yaris - my wife liked that one.

     Wife says "when you are away flying I'm stuck without a car".

     Both cars well-equipped with "Hauspreis" (Tageszulassung).  Sales guy came over.  Verso?  He had 5 available outside.

     A test drive on a 6-mth old model was also possible.

     Angebots were made (incl. changing tires to all-year ones & a tow hook for the Verso)

     "What if we take both"?  Sales guy called his boss & added free first inspections & both tanks full of fuel on delivery.

 

So we have 2 Toyotas.  The Yaris (1.5 l, 6-gears) is a bit small for me, drives very nicely & if I didnt have such a hobby would be Ok for us both.

Verso (1.8 l, 6-gears) is by no means a VW Touran but cost less than half a new VW would have.

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7 minutes ago, HEM said:

Verso (1.8 l, 6-gears) is by no means a VW Touran but cost less than half a new VW would have.

And probably more reliable.

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Most Germans hate pushy salespeople and being pushy usually leads to the opposite - most Germans would just say no and walk out. I do this when I find salespeople annoying - i.e. pushy. Most people just want to look at something without being disturbed and when they have a question, they will ask. That's the best way to sell in Germany ;-). 

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4 minutes ago, French bean said:

And probably more reliable.

Possibly.  As company cars I had 3 Passat Combis, 2 Golf Plusses & the Touran (latter was the best).

I never really had any problems with them but with max. 3 years there should not be.

 

I must say going through the Kasseler Berge with the glider trailer this May had me yearing for the Touran with its powerful Diesel motor (on paper the Verso has a few more PS!).

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Depending on how people are paid, some are Sales people, some are Order takers.  Sounds like you've met the latter.

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Service Wüsste Deutschland. (Service Desert) Germany is infamous for no-customer service. There are exceptions to the rule but those people have been trained by outside companies (take Karstadt for example) the staff were terrible until they decided to get trainers in from outside. It's just the German way; [Cold] They need to warm up... but it takes a few months... maybe years in some cases ;-)

 

Oh yeah, and buy Japanese... they don't cheat on their emissions tests and rarely break-down. Nissan, Mitsubishi, Honda

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Almost all Diesel cars emit more NO2 than allowed:

https://www.duh.de/fileadmin/user_upload/download/Projektinformation/Verkehr/dieselgate/EKI/180514_Tabelle_PEMS-Messungen_Ergebnisse_Maerz_2016-Maerz_2018.pdf

 

However, since the Germans don't like their car manufacturers only the Germans are the bad guys. Look at the number for Renault, Ford, Nissan, Mazda, Jeep, Fiat, etc

All above the limits. They all cheat.

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38 minutes ago, TallGuy said:

Service Wüsste Deutschland. (Service Desert) Germany is infamous for no-customer service.

 

If you are looking for pushy salespeople with a superficial friendliness and a false smile, you are sure to find an area on this planet where this is considered 'good service' ...

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2 hours ago, someonesdaughter said:

 

I'm not quite sure what you expect right now? The salespeople are relaxed, not pushy - what exactly are your expectations? 

If you want to take a test drive, just ask for it.

 

 

 

Basically I find it suspicious that they aren't pushy to get the sale done, even at the stage where we're discussing prices. They just let me leave without offering to lower the price or whatever, which leads me to assume maybe they are judging me somehow and see I'm not serious... which would be true because I'm just at the shopping around stage and don't impulse buy.

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1 hour ago, Thai said:

Most Germans hate pushy salespeople and being pushy usually leads to the opposite - most Germans would just say no and walk out.

Exactly. I can't unterstand why anyone would like to be harrassed by pushy salespeople.

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I agree with @Brockman in that German new car salesmen expect buyers to have done their homework. It was telling that from his experience, when he had done the internet configuration etc that he received proper service. Given that it is only sensible to do your homework beforehand, I don't see this as a downside. In fact, if you have seen what the various options are, it actually puts you in a better position to negotiate on price. 

I think part of the non-pushy attitude would also be due to the fact that their earnings wouldn't be as heavily geared towards commission, but also  due to the fact that leasing/financing is relatively new and isn't quite as developed as some other countries: that final point means that impulse buys are far less likely in the new car market. 

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And there are two other factors that play a role here:

 

About a third, in some brands even 40-50% of all car sales are fleet business, i.e. company cars. Prices won't be negotiated at the dealership on a Saturday morning anyway. 

 

And beyond 'special models' and day approvals, dealers' scope is limited. The return on sales in the car trade is a maximum of 1.5 or 1.6% - if things are going well and the properties are not located in expensive city locations.

 

 

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Many years ago I worked for a dealership in the UK, every used car had 1500 GBP mark up, out of that came pre sale inspection cost, trade in deal and price negotiation. Now whilst the dealership had a poor margin on the car they always made sure they received a good APR on the finance deal, they made more money on the finance package than on the car. On top of that there would be sales incentives from the manufactures such as 1,000 GBP discount on every Mondeo sold in the month.  If you were unfortunate to work in say a Fiat, Citroen or perhaps Renault dealership a salesman had to work to make the sale. For Ford, BMW or VW, they didn't really sell, it was more order taking and if a dealership had an agreement to provide cars to a fleet user such as a Lease company or a company with a 100 cars on its fleet than it meant they were profitable and the fleet sales guy really didn't have to do a lot of hard selling as it was B2B.

 

Another good crack was rental companies, they would have an agreement with a manufacturer to return the vehicles after 6 months at an agreed trade in price, these would then go to closed auctions and be snapped up by the dealer networks, hence a lot of low mileage 6 month old cars going for a lot cheaper than new cars.

 

I have to say after my experience I wouldn't work in the motor trade again, saw too many people being stitched up with crap finance deals and treated like shit after. I got sacked because I wasn't hard enough or selfish enough to make the sales.

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3 hours ago, TallGuy said:

Oh yeah, and buy Japanese... they don't cheat on their emissions tests and rarely break-down. Nissan, Mitsubishi, Honda

 

I believe my Verso (Benziner) puts out far more CO2 than the Diesel Touran ever did.

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