Iam an employee of a small, struggling U.S. auto dealer. After reading your article ("Car buying for those who hate to haggle," Personal Business, Aug. 30), I feel you are being unfair to the auto industry. You imply that a good deal is one that's actually below dealer invoice price--since the dealer has an extra 3% profit coming from the manufacturer. What industry can survive on a less than 3% profit margin?
In this tough economy, we are trying hard to win back the customer. Your story perpetuates the idea that we are trying to cheat the consumer.
Staten Island, N.Y.
Ienjoyed your article. Sadly, from a Canadian perspective, it's an old story: There are no services in this country such as those described in your article. We're still haggling in the dark.
But I think I have found a way out, one I can recommend to your readers: When I was looking for an Acura Legend last fall, I visited a single dealer, in a location convenient for me. Then, using my word processor and the yellow pages, I faxed a customized letter to sales managers at the 12 Acura dealers in the Toronto region. The letter began with the magic words: "I'm looking to buy a Legend this month." It set out my trade-in details. I asked each dealer to fax me back his best offer and told him I was sending the same request to all his competitors.
The response was remarkable: Only one dealer refused to respond. All others faxed me a reply. (I deliberately didn't give my phone number since I wanted offers in writing.)
Finally, I returned to the original dealer, and told him: "Here's all the information. You can look at the faxes if you want. Match the lowest price, and you've got a deal." And he did, lopping $3,500 off his original quote in order to get the sale. The dealer was, frankly, astonished at what I had done, claiming never to have seen this method before.
Spare yourself the trouble, and shop by fax.
David A. Basskin