Downloading Their Dream Cars

Car buyers are using the Internet to snag great deals

When Rhona Pearl wanted to buy a new car in December, she did what a growing number of savvy shoppers are doing--she turned to the Internet. Looking to bargain up from the dealers' invoice instead of bargaining down from the sticker price, Pearl, a Manhattan Beach, Calif., marketing specialist for Nestle, used the World Wide Web to pin down dealers' wholesale costs. Then she asked for bids from online car-buying services Microsoft CarPoint and Auto-By-Tel. Their dealers got back to her the following day, and Pearl drove off in the car of her dreams, a sporty jet-black 1998 Honda Prelude that was only $500 above the invoice price. "It was very, very simple, a pleasurable experience," she says. "It took all the game-playing out of buying a car."

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