Dear Car Dealerships – Hire People Who Can Read

Rant ahead. Rachel and I are starting to look around for another car – we’ve been a one car family for a long time, and it’s worked well for us. Especially when we lived near the MAX light rail, and I could take it to and from work. But, since we bought our house, and since our kids are getting bigger and more involved in activities (Emma started preschool this week), we’re thinking it’s time to get a second car. We love our little 2002 Subaru WRX wagon, but we need something a little bigger – a full size sedan, or *gasp* a minivan.

Anyway, I was poking around the other night, and wanted to get some local dealer quotes on a Hyundai Sonata. happily offered to request a quote from 4 or 5 dealerships in the Portland area. All I had to do was enter my name, email address, and phone number. There was a selection to choose how you wanted to be contacted – I didn’t want to deal with talking to car salesmen on the phone, and we’re not looking to buy right away, so I checked the box for “email me only – don’t call”.

Here’s where the rant starts. And I know you’re all yelling at your computer screen “what did you think would happen?!” Or maybe not. I new what I was getting in to, exposing my soft white underbelly to the sharks at the car dealerships. But I figured, “hey, maybe they’ll respect my wishes, and only email.” Besides, I gave my home number, which I never answer because I’m rarely there (and we let it go to voicemail if we don’t recognize the caller ID).

Yet, within 12 hours, I started getting unknown callers on my cell phone (through my GrandCentral number, which is the one listed on my blog, and on our home voicemail message). Not only had the weaselly car salesmen not read or understood the option I checked for “email me only – don’t call”, they had apparently either written down my cell number from our voicemail message, or Googled me and gotten my number from my site (I HIGHLY doubt this is what happened).

I used GrandCentral’s “listen in while they leave a voicemail” option on the calls, like I do with all of my unknown calls, and got irate by the messages they were leaving. None of them left a quote, like I had requested. All of them said, in essence, “hey, give us a call, and we’ll get you what you need!” *shady crooked grin* The messages got immediately deleted, and I crossed the dealerships in question off of my “might ever possibly get my business for buying a new car” list.

Not all of them stalked me over the phone against my wishes. Two dealerships (I honestly didn’t bother to check the names of the ones that did and didn’t call me, or I’d be listing them here to shame them) actually contacted me by email, like I had requested. Strangely, the two emails I got were from women, while the phone calls were from men. Both emails were to the effect of “let us know what options, etc. you’re looking for, and we’ll get you a quote.” I responded to both. One replied back, quoting me MSRP. Thanks. I could have looked that up. Oh, wait! I DID look that up, along with invoice, and option pricing. What part of “dealer quote” didn’t you understand? Maybe they only sell at MSRP. I won’t be finding out one way or another, because they got crossed off the list.

Of the 5 dealerships from whom I requested a quote, only ONE of them actually gave me what I had requested – a quote of their price, with rebates. I guess the rest of them either can’t read, or don’t care enough about not being an idiot to get my business.

I’m kind of dismayed by the whole prospect, and I doubt I’ll be requesting any more dealer quotes from But if I do decide to buy a Hyundai Sonata, it’s going to be from the one dealership that didn’t ignore what I wanted, or treat me like they didn’t care.


I hate the car buying process. Why does it have to be such a pain in the butt? Does anyone know of a better way? Anyone have a cheap sedan or minivan you want to sell me? 🙂


13 thoughts on “Dear Car Dealerships – Hire People Who Can Read

  1. Rebecca says:

    If you go here, which is used by Intel, you can go here,, which we used in 2004 to buy our Escape and would recommend them, or here They do all the work for you. You just give them a ball park of what you are looking for and they do it all from finding the vehicles, to arranging test drives, to financing. And no salesmen. 1sttech also has a car buying service too, just look on their website.

  2. We bought our last car through the Costco program. It was very slick. If you’re a costco member, go to the site and find the auto program. It asks for the type of car you want, then puts you in touch with a local dealer. We’re in Hillsboro, so it hooked us up with Hillsboro Chrysler Jeep (which no longer exists). The salesman was great – we got the invoice price on the car we wanted. We paid almost exactly what said the best price we could get was (we were a hundred bucks or so off).

    I would highly recommend it. It totally cut the crap out of the buying experience. It was the best auto buying experience I’ve had – and I have a pathological hatred of salespeople, especially car salespeople.

  3. I hear good things about Costco too. You don’t have to deal as much with the dealer BS. I don’t know.. I’d go with another Subaru. I grabbed a Forester last year and it’s great.

  4. alex says:

    are you sure you want to buy a new car? i’ve done that ONCE and swore I’d never do it again (unless i was swimming in money 🙂 buy a used car from an individual and save a bundle.

  5. Matt Davis says:

    There are a couple of “non-dealer” routes I’ve had experience with. I have a family friend that’s an auto broker- I’ve only worked with him on used, but I believe he deals with new as well. Basically, tell him what you’re looking for (as general or specific as you want), and he’ll go find it at auction, trade, through his little network, whatever, and usually at a very good price. I can get you his info if you’re interested. Also, if you’re a First Tech member, you have access to Autoland- I’ve worked with a couple of friends to buy through them (again, new or used) and it was pretty painless. Sounds very similar to the Costco deal…

  6. perrik says:

    When Erik was looking for his WRX wagon, he emailed dealers directly (not through Edmunds or another third-party) and specified what he wanted. He did not provide a phone number. The ones who responded with useful info stayed on the list, the others were crossed off. And then there are dealerships who post their actual prices on the web. These places are likely to have NON-commissioned salespeople, which lowers the sleaze factor considerably! He bought from Fitzgerald Auto Group (see to see how they handle this) and we were both impressed. He’s getting his next car through them. I would, too, if only they had a Mini dealership. Sigh.

  7. Back when I got my convertible in ’99, I used an auto broker (as I had a very specific idea of what I wanted) and everything went incredibly smoothly–even the financial stuff at the end. I would dig up his contact information, but he’s in LA, so I doubt it really helps. Most recently, we picked up a minivan and got a great deal on a used one from (I believe–my wife did the research) Craigslist. In this case, it was being sold by a private party so we went through the bank to get the loan–meaning we did all the financial footwork ourselves, but I think we probably got a better rate than what a dealership would hook us up with.

  8. shopping for a new car is never very fun. last time I shopped I used Edmunds to get the prices and such, and then when I had figured out what I wanted I went thru the fleet department. It was a nice experience because I did not have the normal back and forth on the price of the car.

    I could have used the different programs that would find you the car you wanted but at the time i did not know what car i actually wanted. plus i kind of prefer to go look the car myself.

    You might also want to look at the internal Intel employee discount websites cause a couple of car mfg give us discounts.

    also, i current own a toyota matrix and love the car. i would recommend the car to anyone. it has good gas mileage (25-28mpg), a decent size trunk and the back seat lays down if you need to haul something.

    another car that i have been looking at is the dodge caliber. it looks like a pretty cool car and i know that intel employees get a discount from dodge. i have not test driven the car yet though, just been looking at edmunds on it.

  9. I hate the whole car-buying process because of experiences you’ve just described. The hubby has heard a lot of good things about I think his parents actually tracked down a couple used cars with that site and had a good experience. Also, if you’re fine with used cars, I’d recommend using Carmax. They are really good. We’ve bought two cars from them, and the whole experience was pretty smooth. They aren’t allowed to negotiate on car pricing, so the price listed is what you get, which is nice.

    If you’re going with a new car, perhaps consider Scion (Toyota’s spinoff brand for less expensive cars aimed at a younger demographic)? They also have pricing where there’s no negotiation. The new xB, while quirky, might be a good alternative? I guess it’s not quite as big as a minivan, but it’s got a good amount of interior space. My brother has the previous generation xB and it’s pretty comfortable.

    The Toyota Matrix sounds like a good alternative, too.

  10. We bought from Royal Moore ( over the Internet. They sent us a quote by email. When we showed up to pick it up, it took all of 15 minutes to process the paperwork and get out the door. This was the best car buying experience I have ever had. I liked it so much, we went and bought a second car from them.

  11. John Vogel says: I’m in the Portland area. Using their website I specified the exact car I wanted (color, options, etc). They quote you a price. Double checked the price with consumer reports – it was fair. Ordered the car via the website. They call in a day or so to make sure you’re legit. A week or so later they confirm the date the car will be delivered and the payment (cash, loan, etc.). On that date the car rolls off a delivery truck and onto my driveway. I had them a check and they hand me the keys. Painless.

  12. John Hamlett says:

    Your experience is virtually the same as one I had earlier this summer. However, I did things just a bit differently:

    1) Never give out your phone number. Even though mine is listed it appears no salesman is smart enough to cross-reference my name and actually call me.

    2) Set up a unique email account before requesting any quotes. That way the endless spam that follows is easy to ignore and you won’t compromise your *real* address.

    3) If you decide to pursue something go direct with the dealer’s fleet rep. I’ve found most ‘internet’ salespeople are just normal sales people who know how to use email while fleet sales staff usually are salaried, not commissioned, and will cut to the chase much faster and more in your favor.

    4) And, as you’ve already found out by now,, Sam’s Club and CostCo are good alternatives to the traditional stealer. And although I would not again use as a vehicle (no pun intended) to obtain meaningful quotes, it is an excellent site to read both professional and buyer reviews.

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