Car dealers are just not the same anymore

Smiling Assassin 15 July 2021 29

Have been having the most intersting experiences with car dealers in the last month. Gone are the shifty car salesman with cockney accents trying to sell you ridiculously overpriced used cars, that lucky for the buyer are only on sale the day they walk in the door.

I have been ready to buy a car for the last month, but am finding it impossible to find a salesman that will sell me one. Gone are the days where you could negotiate with a salesman. You ask for a price, he gives it to you, you counter the offer, he says he can’t do that and that’s it. No more negotiation. WTF!!! The worst for this was one of the biggest dealers in Canberra.

READ ALSO: The best used car dealerships in Canberra: your ultimate guide to buying a used car

I have been getting salesman who recommend not to take a car for a test drive, even when I ask. Another tells me not to worry about the colour of a car as you can’t see it when you are sitting in it.

Sadly, I think I am longing for the shifty car salesman you could haggle with and have a little bit of a battle with to get to the price you want to pay.

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29 Responses to Car dealers are just not the same anymore
georgesgenitals georgesgenitals 2:35 am 12 Jun 10

I think it’s more about motivating a salesperson to sell. Using the words “I’ll buy right now if the price is right” usually helps.

Understand that used cars aren’t worth much on trade in any more. If you want top dollar (which still won’t be much), you need to sell privately. I find having no trade in, and telling the dealer what you want, gives you a much better start to go forward with.

cleo cleo 11:08 pm 11 Jun 10


Oh bullshit, I remember when I wanted to buy a new car and trade-in my old one, the guys were pricks, they even implied that my car was stolen, I was upfront with them, so when I did buy a new car from somewhere else, I took it to the smart arse’s and let them know what they had missed out on, I went there to get my first service done, and he said well why don’t you go and get it served there than, of course I told him it wasn’t convenient, I really enjoyed that, they weren’t the first I went to either, some where not interested, and were only offering me a low price on trade-in, but I got a good deal with the trad-in from the people I brought my brand new car from, they were in Ashfield in Sydney (Diahasu).

localmatt localmatt 9:51 am 11 Jun 10

Well the dealers see giving you the best price up front as showing all our cards for no apparent reason, what is the point of negotiating if you aren’t buying the car, negotiate when you are ready to put a deposit down and buy the car, you definately get the best deal that way.
Be honest to the salesperson, tell them what you actually want, tell them what you want to pay. Do not use the arms crossed “you tell me” attitude it DOES NOT work, if the salesperson likes you and you like them it makes everybodys life alot easier and you get the better deal at the end of the day.
And as stated above new cars sell at a loss 80% of the time and no-one doubles their money on used cars, Canberra is not much dearer than Sydney, as a matter of fact this month alone i have sold 4 cars into the Sydney area because they were cheaper here.

troll-sniffer troll-sniffer 9:41 am 11 Jun 10

Smiling Assassin said :

The car I have been looking at has a trade in value of $14-17000. I know the dealer traded it. They have it on the lot for $25000. At the top mark they have put $8000 on it or $11000 if they paid bottom price. I understand they have to put warranty on it and do have to make a profit, fair enough, but this is a second hand car, of which there are 1000’s out there. I just think they are getting greedy.

Aaaah yes the subtleties of the trade elude all but the knowing. The reason it’s on for $25,000 is because the dealer builds in a margin to entice a buyer into what seems to be a bargain deal. Consider the following:

Scenario One: Dealer values car at $21,000. Puts $21,000 sticker on it. Joe Public rocks up with 2003 Commodore, worth $2500 to the dealer, who offers Joe $2500 as a trade in. Joe is insulted that his pride and joy is so undervalued and walks away.

Scenario Two: Dealer values car at $21,000. Puts $25,000 sticker on it. Joe Public rocks up with 2003 Commodore, dealer intially values it at $3500 but after a lot of arm-twisting by market expert Joe, relents and offers $4500, AND takes a whopping $2,000 off the sticker price. Joe is rapt, thinks the dealer is the greatest guy on earth, and boasts down the pub how he screwed the dealer for a bigger trade-in and knocked 2g’s off the top.

If you know the ropes and the industry you can usually get a deal that is a reasonable compromise and still gives the dealer an adequate margin, however don’t expect to be treated like royalty if you make it obvious you’re never going to be worth more than an average allocation of time. However if you think that a $1000 markup on a $15000 car is sufficient to cover waranty rent insurance wages and beer, you’re delusional. The true figure required to stay in business is probably closer to $3-4000 gross.

As for the attitude of the used car sales places in Canberra, don’t expect to get treated like royalty if you’re at the bottom end of the market and intent on haggling. It ain’t gonna happen unless they’ve got nothing better to do.

cleo cleo 2:58 am 11 Jun 10

I can’t stand the b–t–ds, I would prefer to buy at Pickles! The experience I had years ago really put me off, that’s probably why I’ve had my car for twenty years and it’s still going strong!

harley harley 12:27 am 11 Jun 10

I took my 3-days from getting his P’s son to Fyshwick to shop for used cars in the 6K range.

The first dealer couldn’t help us enough. I think his name was Wayne, from the place next to Workout World.

He loaned us ‘L’ plates, didn’t bat an eyelid. Told us to take it for a good drive. Then gave us what we thought was a good price on the spot, without any sort of “decide now” pressure. Come back monday, if you’re interested. Sadly – the car wasn’t right for the boy, but the dealer seemed good.

A walk through the other dealers in Newcastle St wasn’t so encouraging.

We then found a little place in Kembla St – not a very promising looking place, but the guy was friendly enough and let the L plater drive without a problem. Our only problem here was after the drive he wasn’t pushy per se, but he wouldn’t give a better price unless we were fixed on that car.

We then went to the places behind Magnet Mart in Philip. Again, the guys were reasonable, but we were buggered and they didn’t have anything that stood out to us.

So good and bad for us, but mostly good.

Smiling Assassin Smiling Assassin 11:36 pm 10 Jun 10

With the availablility of Redbook prices arming the public with the knowledge of how much a dealer probably bought a used car for, you would think that carsalesman would be in a position to negotiate, even a little bit.

Is the market that good that they are making so much money and can afford to hang onto cars on the lot until someone comes along and offers the full price knowing it is thousands above that the dealer paid for it.

The car I have been looking at has a trade in value of $14-17000. I know the dealer traded it. They have it on the lot for $25000. At the top mark they have put $8000 on it or $11000 if they paid bottom price. I understand they have to put warranty on it and do have to make a profit, fair enough, but this is a second hand car, of which there are 1000’s out there. I just think they are getting greedy.

I still hate to admit it but I want the old style car dealers back who you can haggle with, the theatre of it all added to the experience of buying a car.

troll-sniffer troll-sniffer 10:12 pm 10 Jun 10

Felix the Cat said :

I went looking to buy a new second-hand car the other weekend. Started off at a car yard in Braddon where the guy was friendly and helpful but ruined the moment by saying I could hop in any of the cars and drive away (as in they were mechanically sound).

Glad I don’t work or play with you. I’d be scared to put a foot wrong. Sounds like you were looking for excuses to criticise and leave.

2604 2604 8:58 pm 10 Jun 10

If you’re looking for a new car, go to and search under “Brand New Cars in Stock”. That will bring up a list of dealer prices, ordered from cheapest to most expensive.

A mate of mine also got a good result on a new Kluger by using to contact ~20 different dealers in Sydney and Canberra seeking quotes. Just contacted them saying the model, colour and accessories he wanted and could they get back to him with their best price for that spec. He got 15 calls in response and took the least expensive one.

Good luck.

steveu steveu 8:44 pm 10 Jun 10

I reckon take your business to Sydney and get a car there – you will save thousands, and get a nice drive which will be a good part of the run-in of the vehicle itself. Ring the dealers, make the deal on the phone then pop down and pick it up. I remember in 1991 I bought a new car from the outskirts of Sydney and saved myself $3K. That was a fair bit then as well. Canberra dealers were not interested in making any deals. So they lost my business.

Felix the Cat Felix the Cat 8:43 pm 10 Jun 10

I went looking to buy a new second-hand car the other weekend. Started off at a car yard in Braddon where the guy was friendly and helpful but ruined the moment by saying I could hop in any of the cars and drive away (as in they were mechanically sound). I should bloody well hope I could drive the cars away, maybe he thought I would like to push them?! I was looking at cars in the price range up to $20K, not $500 bombs.

Another salesman at a car yard in Fyshwick wanted to sell me a coupe after I specifically asked for a 4 door hatchback.

A salesman at a car yard in Phillip said he didn’t have any of the particular make/model I wanted even though there were three examples within spitting distance of where we were standing and then he said they rarely become available and I should give him my phone number and then if/when he calls I should rush straight over with a deposit and THEN he would let me look at it.

enrique enrique 7:05 pm 10 Jun 10

Use a broker…

Contact this company, they’ll do the running around for you and get a good price due to their buying power and established relationhips.

MrNurseRatchet MrNurseRatchet 6:33 pm 10 Jun 10

Yup, I’ve had the same experience…in Sydney, not Canberra. I was moving from Syd to here so I did a little car shopping here in Canberra and found the salepeople disinterested and the prices at least 5K higher than Sydney. So about 4 months ago I bought in Sydney but had the same terrible experience–no one wants to negotiate anymore! It’s all “fixed price” and high pressure crap. Thankfully, I ended up getting a good deal because I made it very clear that I was willing to walk (in fact I did…he called me back 3 days later and offered a better price) and also made it clear that I couldn’t give a crap if I bought now or 4 months from now. I also did it at the end of the month when they’re a bit more desperate to meet their quotas…good luck!

54-11 54-11 5:51 pm 10 Jun 10

I recently bought a new motorbike (1100 Yamaha) and was very impressed with most of the sales people. Had test rides, was able to compare models, and some dealers (such as Robbos Harley) do regular try ’em out days. Had Harley test rides from the smallest 883 Sportster up to the baddest, blinged-out Electra Glide.

The only dealer who didn’t put themselves out were Eurotune in Qbn. Others, such as Joes, Canberra M/c Centre et al were all very helpful.

Perhaps the posters above should try out 2-wheel transport instead of 4.

prhhcd prhhcd 3:40 pm 10 Jun 10

Completely different experience for me. I bought a car from national capital motors in Belco about 15 months ago – a really good experience. admittedly it was a new car but so friendly and helpful. Long testdrive etc. Hope all goes well for you Smiling Assassin.

Spectra Spectra 1:30 pm 10 Jun 10

We had a similar experience – we pretty much set out one weekend a few months back to buy a new car, but after visiting 5 dealerships we went home in disgust. At two of them we couldn’t get anyone to acknowledge our presence (even to say “I’ll be right with you once I’ve finished serving these other folks” – not that most of them were serving anyone), and two more were so useless we gave up talking to them when we got the distinct impression they weren’t particularly interested in selling us a car…which seemed an odd attitude for a salesperson.
In fairness, we had an exceptional experience at National Capital Motors in Braddon – friendly, helpful service, falling over themselves to take us on a test drive for as long as we wanted, and just an all-around good experience. It’s a shame we ended up deciding the car we tried wasn’t for us, because I would have loved to reward the only place that seemed to want out business.

Funky1 Funky1 1:16 pm 10 Jun 10

I’ve been told by someone who used to work in the industry, that most dealers actually lose money when selling new vehicles (especailly when sales are advertised nation-wide and they have to comply with the pricing). The real money is in the used car market and this is where the dealerships recoup their loses.

That would probably explain the lack of interest from some new car salesmen and the reason that used car salesmen are more enthusiastic when offered a trade in (more sales stock and an opportunity for more profit).

sepi sepi 12:01 pm 10 Jun 10

I also noticed they seem to have given up on negotiating on price. The best you can do these days is go for extra inclusions – and they will try to tell you that even things like floor matts are an extra bonus they are throwing in.

troll-sniffer troll-sniffer 11:58 am 10 Jun 10

Sammy said :

Test drives are meaningless. A lap around the block in a car is not going to tell you anything you couldn’t have learned from reading reviews and doing a bit of secondary research.

What a ridiculous statement. Seating position, visibility, instruments, controls, seat comfort, steering wheel position, pedal access, legroom, headroom, and just a general feel about a car aren’t of vital importance?

I was sold on the idea of an Outback but ended up choosing a Forester after test drives, because I didn’t like the feeling of being down low in the Outback, I prefer the upright and more comfortable seating position of the ‘lesser’ value Forester.

I also had the opportunity to drive a Prius which had seemed a logical alternative, but I wasn’t at all happy with the huge windscreen pillars blocking a large percentage of the view so it was also deleted from the list.

Show me an article anywhere in the free world’s press that would have found these concerns for me and I will retract my opening gambit, but otherwise I stand by it.

jasere jasere 11:45 am 10 Jun 10

Toyota Fyshwick about 6 months ago looking to buy there and then asked a salesmen “how flexible are you on this cars price”? was told I’m not thats the price dont like it go buy somewhere else. So I did about hour later.

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