Very few purchases are as stressful as buying a new car. Next to buying a house, a car is the second largest purchase that most people make. Since it is such a large purchase, it is wise to do some research before you sign on the dotted line.
We recently decided that we were going to buy a new car. My wife and I live in North East Pennsylvania. While there are parts of the country that do receive more snow than we do, we start to get snow in November and this year it kept snowing until late April. As the result of our long snow season, we find that Subaru is our best option.
The all-wheel-drive comes in handy on bad road conditions. In the past, Subaru did not provide very good miles per gallon (MPG) for the size of their cars. Now, with the CVT transmission, they average around 30 MPG. In my opinion, that is good for an all-wheel-drive car.
We decided that we wanted a Subaru Outback. The Subaru Outback matched our needs. We like to go to our local lakes and the Outback is rated to tow up to 2,700 lbs. That is more than enough to pull our kayak trailer.
As a member of the financial independence community, I am extremely frugal. I don’t like spending money, but when I do, I shop for the best value. I view salespeople as competition. That is especially the case for big-ticket purchases like a car.
My approach to car shopping is simple. I know the make and model of what I want before I head out to buy it. I know how much I want to spend. As the result of KBB, the value of my trade in is already known.
To find a car, I just type in what I am looking for in Cars.com. It is based on year, brand, model, budget, and I search for certified used. The distance that I am willing to travel is 150 miles. Based on where I live, the 150-mile distance covers both New York City and Philadelphia where there are high volume dealers that offer better prices. The last part of my search is to sort by lowest mileage on the car.
After I performed that search, the first car that came up was a 2017 Subaru Outback Premium with 4,000 miles for $24,995. When I looked at what the average price for the same exact car, the closest that I was able to find was one for $27,500, but it had 30,000 miles. I am willing to drive two hours to save $2,500 and to get a car with 26,000 fewer miles.
Now that I picked out the car, I reached out to the dealer. I told them that I wanted to buy the car. My initial call was on a Tuesday. I made an appointment for the following Saturday. They did inform me that they could not hold the car but would reach out to me if it was sold.
Over the course of that week, I had communicated with the car dealer every day. There was at least one email per day and a few phone calls. Friday rolled around, and they sent me an email to verify my appointment. We were all set.
When Saturday arrived, my wife and I drove down to Allentown, Pa to buy our new car. The dealer was right off of the highway and easy to find. I thought that it was going to be a simple process.
When we arrived, I asked for the salesperson who I was dealing with. When he came out, he had bad news. He told us that the car was sold that morning. I was annoyed, and my wife was pissed. She asked him, why did they not call us? He apologized and said that they have other used Outback’s and would find us another car.
At this point, I had a feeling that I was not going to buy a car from this dealer. I looked at their online inventory and they did not have any deals that were as good as what I came down for. The salesman asked if we wanted to see their used inventory and I just played along.
He showed us about 10 used Subaru Outback’s that they had in inventory. One was $1,000 cheaper than the one we drove down for but had 43,000 miles on the odometer. That was a no. Most of what they had were the Limited model that was a step above what we wanted to buy. They were nice. The Limited had more features like leather and other fancy crap, but they were $30,000 and higher. I saw one that I liked and asked if he could get it down to $25,000. He did not think that he could do it.
At this point, I was already looking for a new car on my phone. I found a very similar deal in New Jersey. It was only 40 minutes away and I was ready to drive there.
The salesman knew that we were not interested in what he was selling. I flat out told him that I drove 60 miles for a specific deal. We only buy cars every 8-10 years and I am willing to travel to buy a cream-puff used car.
He asked if we were willing to sit in his office while he went and spoke to the Sales Manager. I was not mad at them for selling the car I came down for. It is just business. However, I was not going to pay any more than what I budgeted for and was not willing to accept a car with more miles.
He disappeared and left us in his office. My wife was already over the experience and thought the deal was a basic bait-and-switch. I was programming the other Subaru Dealer into Google Maps and ready to drive to New Jersey.
About 10 minutes passed and the salesman came back. He asked what we thought about buying a brand new 2018 model. I thought to myself, here comes the bait and switch. He is going to try to sell us a $30,000 plus car.
He told us that he spoke to his Sales Manager. The best that they could do was to sell us the exact same car that we drove down for except it was brand new and cost $25,300. It took me about 1 second to review the offer and I said, “you got a deal”.
The Sales Manager came over and told us that he wanted us to leave the dealership satisfied. He knew that we drove over 1-hour and he felt that he had to offer us a better deal than we came in for. He reduced the price on the brand-new car from $29,500 to $25,300.
Even though our initial opinion of this dealer felt shady, they ended up saving the sale. I wish that I could tell you that it was the result of my negotiation skills, but it was not. My wife and I were just willing to walk away and never come back. The Salesman and Sales Manager both knew that. To save the sale, they had to sharpen their pencil on a new model to close the deal. They did what they had to and it was one of the best displays of customer service that I ever experienced.
I was more than satisfied with this deal. More importantly, my wife was satisfied. It is her new car.
Even though they had to drastically reduce the price, they saved the sale. As the result, they made the customer happy. Without knowing it, they benefited by me sharing this positive experience with my friends, family, and everyone who reads this blog.
As the result of their excellent customer service, I highly recommend Ciocca Subaru in Allentown, Pennsylvania. They are about 60-miles from Philadelphia and about 90 miles from New York City. If you live in the Mid-Atlantic Region and are looking to buy a Subaru, I would contact Ciocca Subaru.
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