Skip to main content

“The customer is always right” is a common phrase used in the customer service industry when referring to the notion that customers should always get their way. But in the car sales industry, the more common term for customers is “buyers are liars.” It’s not because car salespeople hate customers, instead, it’s because customers, more often than not, lie through their teeth at salespeople in order to get their way.

Don’t believe me? I spent four years in the car sales industry and I could easily write a story on the countless times customers lied to me to get what they wanted. But for now, I’ll share with you some of the most common lies that customers tell car dealers.

What?! Customers don’t really lie, right?

A mirror reflection view of two customers learning about the Audi TT.
Two customers learn about the Audi TT. | (Yavuz Arslan/ullstein bild via Getty Images)

I know, it’s hard to believe. Especially since car salespeople are supposedly the scum of the Earth and will lie, cheat, and steal to make a sale, right? But do you know what car salespeople and customers have in common? They’re all human.

As such, I came across a list of lies that customers tell car salespeople all the time, as sorted by Motortrend. These lies are pretty standard across the board, so I have listed them and included a brief translation of how car salespeople will interpret what the customer is really saying.

Lie: “We’re just looking”

Translation: We already know exactly the car we want, but we don’t want to talk to you and probably won’t buy from you unless you can get the exact same car for thousands less. Otherwise, we’re just here to look around at any other potential options and waste your time if you proceed to ask any more questions.

Lie: “This is the first place we’ve been”

Translation: This is the fifth dealership we have been to and we already have pricing from each one. We just want to see what you can do for us.

Lie: “We’re not planning to do anything today.”

A Ford car salesperson shows a customer the lot.
A Ford car salesperson shows a customer the lot. | Getty Images

Translation: If you can get us a price that we can agree upon, we’ll definitely pull the trigger today.

Lie: “I have excellent credit”

Translation: As long as you don’t count the bankruptcy and a couple of repos.

Lie: “I can only afford $300 a month”

Translation: I can actually afford $500, but I’m trying to get every penny out of this deal.

Lie: “The dealership down the street is giving us $5,000 off”

Translation: They’re actually only giving us $1,000 off and your deal is better, but I want to see if I can price shop you against yourself and beat your own deal.

Real story: I have actually had a couple of different customers create fake e-mail correspondences from other dealerships with phony price offers in an attempt to get a better deal from me.

Lie: “I need to talk to my wife/husband.”

 A car salesperson tells a couple of customers about the TT while sitting at his desk.
A car salesperson tells a couple of customers about the TT. | (Yavuz Arslan/ullstein bild via Getty Images)

Translation: I’ve discussed buying a new car with my wife/husband for the past few months and now he/she’s given me permission to do what I want. I’m just walking away so you can potentially chase me with a better deal.

Real talk: Truth be told, car salespeople will give chase in this scenario since there’s always a chance to earn the customer’s business. However, the cat and mouse game only prolongs the process. It would be better if the customer would just be honest in this instance.

Lie: “I’m in no hurry.”

Translation: I actually need a car by Monday, that’s why you saw me pull up in a rental car when I arrived.

Lie: “We need to go to lunch to discuss this.”

Translation: I’m going to the next dealership on my list and if they have a better car, price, or salesperson, you’ll never hear from me again.

Lie: “I have an appointment I need to get to.”

Translation: I have no appointment, I just really want to get out of here.

Lie: “We’ll be back.”

Translation: You’ll never hear from us again, and if you try to call, enjoy listening to our outgoing voice message every single time.

Being a car salesperson is tough, but customer lies can make it tougher

An employee at a Mercedes-Benz car dealership.
An employee at a Mercedes-Benz car dealership. | (Dmitry Rogulin\TASS via Getty Images)

The stress of selling cars to make a living while a sales manager breathes down your back is enough to make any salesperson crazy given enough time. But what makes it worse is when customers doll out these little lies to control the situation or get out of it altogether. And while many of these lies are easily justifiable to an extent, the point is that they don’t make the transaction any smoother.

Case in point, if you want a quick and easy car deal that’s beneficial to both parties, cut out the lies. Of course, not all car salespeople are angels and they have been known to lie as well. But having transparency on both sides of the sales desk is important so that neither party feels short-changed, or worse. After all, you wouldn’t want the scuzzy salesperson to lie to you, so why would you do it to them?


What Does a Good Car Salesperson Look Like?