Car buying - a nightmare!

I’ve simply got to get this off my chest fellow Forum members.

I’m in the market for a new car and I like to use the “5 minute rule” which is I’ll walk out of a showroom if nobody has greeted me and there are people to do so. Well, I will probably have to change this to the 10, 15 or even 30 minute rule because today I walked out of 3 “premium” car showrooms after being totally ignored.

I can’t help but contrast this with the hi-fi trade where hours can be spent at a Dealer with 1:1 attention, even if it’s only to buy a £50 cable. But I’m not spending £50, I’m potentially spending £50k so isn’t it reasonable to expect someone to at least acknowledge my mere existence when I walk through the door? I didn’t even get offered a bloody coffee!

Is it my area do you think (North Oxfordshire), or are car salespeople exempt from the sort of customer service and attentiveness one might get if buying a £1 Mars Bar in the local newsagents?

I often wonder with some of these more upmarket brands , that they just look at what you are wearing and judge you as a time waster. Jeans and hoody ignore, suited and booted…all over you. Bit of a general statement, but there may be an element of truth in it?

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Premium car dealers leave you alone to browse for as long as you like. Did you sit in any of the cars? Kick the tyres?

You are allowed to approach the sales people.


I must admit I appreciate their absence after a lifetime of pushy car salesmen. I usually do all the leg work at home/online, all the info is on their websites these days. Change over figures are fairly consistent and again can be done online, so by the time I get to the showroom just a case of looking over each others car etc.

I bought a new MINI a couple of years ago, I went in and test drove it, agreed a spec with the sales guy and went back to think about it, I’d also driven a few others. Went back a few days later in an agreed slot to close the deal, told the (different) sales guy I had agreed the spec I wanted and wanted to agree discount and trade in. He was unable to pull the quote back, and went through all the questions again, as I read from my printout. He then quoted me the same list price I had in front of me, and told me he wasn’t authorised to agree a discount and he’d need his manager. This was an hour in by now. It took another 15 minutes for her to arrive. Basically 75 minutes of my time wasted. She arrived as I was getting the number of the Audi garage up to look for an appointment there, the Audi I test-drove had been a close second and I was prepared to walk out and buy it.

I hate the need to talk to my manager chit chat, i lose the will to live.


I think the way these places work is that are deliberately not all over you, as for most people that is really annoying. They just leave you alone to look at the cars, sit in them and so on. Once you approach them they can easily judge if you are serious. When I go looking for cars I deliberately dress scruffily. A good garage will not judge on how you look, and to me that helps to assess the garage.

When I bought my car last year I discussed all this with the sales guy. He said they absolutely don’t judge on appearances but they can easily spot time wasters, whether suited and booted or in jeans and flip flops. He said they’d had a really scruffy guy come in a few weeks before, covered in builder’s dust. The guy then went on to buy a £50,000 car. If they had made rash judgements on appearances, that sale would not have been made.

I went in smart-casual, sat in cars, made it obvious I was not killing time all under the noses of the so called Sales Assistants. Why should I have to go to them to asked to be spoken to like I am the one doing them a favour?

High quality service would involve a welcoming meet and greet, an initial offer of assistance and if no assistance is required by the customer, to then retire to a respectful distance being alert to any signals from the customer they may require help. TBH I doubt that any sales person would admit to judging a person based whether they had any conspicuous signs of wealth but as you are suggesting ( I think) really well trained sales staff will treat all potential customers the same regardless of their attire.

I struck up a great relationship with an Audi salesman some years ago, when, having decided that I quite fancied a pre-owned A6, I suggested that I didn’t want to spend forever discussing discount, my own trade-in value, and certainly not spend ages haggling over final net figure, and could we just cut to the chase?

I went outside for a Marlboro Moment, and a few minutes later, he plonked down a Post It note with the net amount required. Job done, and his comment that he wished every customer might be as direct seemed to make his day too.

I’m now on my third Audi, and the experience has been equally painless each time.

Prefer to be left alone myself. Or book ahead if you want personal service?

I think that generally cars sell themselves. The staff are there just to take your money. They have lost the art of selling and the skills to do deals / keep customers happy

This probably doesn’t help, but yhere is a simple solution, NEVER but a new car. You lose so much through initial depreciation, and in Britain the new car loading on road tax, while you get all the teething troubles if things aren’t perfect.

The internet has radically changed the nature of car sales, I can source a car get a change over figure without leaving the house. I then email the dealers with the desired car let them know I’m interested and tell them I’m looking across dealerships and ask for their best deal. My wife bought a new mini last month, well a six month old demo, and we were discussing this with the salesperson and they confirmed that customers tend to know as much if not more than them due to the internet.
The day I start to consider what I wear to a garage to purchase a car is when I start to worry, seriously ? Maybe dig out some rags to visit my Naim dealer and see how it goes :slightly_smiling_face:

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It’s good to read some positive comments but I think its an industry tarnished with the same brush as estate agents. The last time I was buying a new car I used Orangewheels to get a good quote. I booked an appointment with my local Mercedes garage for a test drive of the model I wanted. Before I even got into the car the salesman asked me about budget I showed him my quote from Orangewheels’ Merc dealer. He went off to speak with his manager and after 10 minutes came back to say they were not willing to match it. I said “ok, well lets get on with the demo then”, to which he replied, " you better go to Orangewheels because you can’t afford to buy one from here". Thanks very much Oxford Mercedes.

Now that is dreadful service from a dealer, definitely wouldn’t be back there.

Agree and even more; what that particular salesperson said was deliberately rude and insulting.

I used to think that in order to be taken seriously by car salesman, new and old, it was important to go in well-prepared with a grasp of how the finance deals work and the “tricks” to get the best deal. Wrong. Salespeople prefer the uneducated buyer, someone who needs their advice, ideally with no idea of what a competitive deal actually looks like.

I don’t want anyone bothering me whatsoever. They can ask if I need any help once, but if they ask again, I’m off.

Anyone in jeans and hoody should be totally ignored, wherever they are.

For my recent purchase, I saw what I wanted on the dealer’s website, decided what I would pay for it, and had the first salesperson who approached me write up the offer. I then crossed out his number and wrote mine. He then went to the manager for approval and the deal done. It took less than 10 minutes, except it didn’t. The process started at the same dealership 4 years earlier when they wouldn’t move off the list price for the same model. Then 6 months ago a test drive and a small price concession and so again no deal. When I did buy, the test drive salesman was in the showroom chatting to a colleague and did not approach me. He lost his commission accordingly. Auto sales reps never have the authority to give the best pricing so why play along? The cars in question, all new,; 2014 Audi A7 tdi @$86,000, 2018 AudiS7 @$88,000 and what I bought, 2018 A7 @$60,000. (Canadian $). I suggest any value add, if any, from the sales rep is in the research phase.