Games Dealers Play: The Waiting Game
Buying a new or used car can be an exhausting process. Unfortunately, some dealers may drag the process out far longer than necessary. When consumers are tired or hungry, or when they have small children who getting cranky, they are more susceptible to pressure, and they might make bad decisions. An unscrupulous dealership can take advantage of the buyer's vulnerability by pushing them into a bad car, by overcharging them, or by sneaking overpriced extras into the contract.
If consumers are kept waiting for hours for credit decisions, then they are going to be anxious to leave. That leaves them especially vulnerable when it comes time to sign the papers. Consumers in these circumstances are much less likely to scrutinize the contract terms, and they may not notice that the deal is something different than what they were told. Or, if their judgment is compromised by hours of waiting, they are more likely to give in to high pressure sales tactics.
I have had hundreds of clients tell me about their experiences being kept waiting at the dealership, sometimes for six hours or longer. Even a wait of two to three hours can put a consumer into a more vulnerable state. Many consumers report being confused and upset over how they could have committed to car payments that they cannot afford. Unscrupulous dealerships know that a tired and hungry consumer is vulnerable, and they are very skilled at taking advantage.
Here are some tips to avoid being victimized by the Waiting Game:
- Arrange Financing in Advance. Deals are much simpler when you are negotiating as a cash buyer. Shop for financing BEFORE visiting a dealership. You will not only save a lot of time, but you may also save a lot of money on interest charges.
- Leave the kids at home. Buying a car is stressful enough, but it can be much, much worse when small children are tired, cranky, or hungry. If at all possible, make arrangements for someone else to watch the kids when shopping for cars.
- Have a way to get home. Do not put yourself in a position where you must buy a car (or ask the dealer for a ride) in order to get home. Make arrangements in advance to have someone who can pick you up if you need to leave.
- Be prepared to walk. If an unscrupulous dealership believes that you have no option except to purchase a car, then they may press you into a bad deal. Your best protection is to set a limit on how much time you will spend at the dealership, and be prepared to walk away if you are not comfortable with the deal.
- Bring a snack. People with diabetes or hypoglycemia may make poor decisions if they go too long without food. Even people without any health issues can make bad decisions when hungry. Packing a nutritous snack can help you to exercise sound judgment.
- Take a break. If things are dragging on for too long, deal the dealership that they should give you a call when they have things figured out.
- No deal is too good to pass up. Don't fall for the old scam that a price is good only for one day. Also, don't fall for the "I have another interested customer" line. Even if you do miss out on a car or some deal because you waited, chances are that you'll find another car you like even more.
Car dealers are highly skilled at maximizing their profits, and many will resort to fraudulent practices. Dealerships know that a tired consumer is more likely to sign on the dotted line. Consumers need to be fresh and alert in order to protect themselves from becoming a victim of the Waiting Game.