The Most Annoying Things Customers Would Do When I was a Car Salesman

Being a car salesman is one of the worst, yet potentially most rewarding jobs that you could ever have. On one hand, you can make a lot of money selling cars, and the relationships that you can build with the people that you work with, as well as the customers that your assist, can be invaluable. But on the other hand, those same customers can make the experience downright awful. Here are the most annoying things that customers would do during the four years that I sold cars at a few different dealerships.

Arrive at the last hour of day

You might have heard this one as a tip in order to save money when buying a new car, but please don’t follow it. It has become a common thought among car buyers that if you arrive at the dealership at the last hour of the day you’ll get a better deal because everyone just wants to go home, but they also want to sell a car. That could be true, however, you’re more than likely just getting on the salesperson’s bad side by doing this.

Not only are you keeping the salesperson from going home, but you’re also holding up the sales manager, the finance manager, and all of the detail guys that are waiting to wash your new pride and joy, just so that you can possibly save another hundred dollars. Trust me, it’s not worth it and you’re actually just wasting your own time by coming in late in the day.

dealer on showroom
Ellis Brooks Chevrolet owner John Brooks moves a car on the showroom floor. | (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Customers would “hide” their trade-in

I still can’t understand for the life of me why some customers “hide their trade-in” when buying a car. What this means is that the customer will finally tell the salesperson that they want to trade in their car after all of the sales numbers are negotiated and almost agreed upon. For some reason, many car-buying advice stories will recommend doing this, but I wholeheartedly do not.

If you have a car that you want to trade-in, tell the salesperson at the start of the process so that they can factor in any negative equity or weird situations into the mix before they present to you the final numbers. Telling them about your trade early will not only make the process easier, but it could get you a better deal since the salesperson and their sales manager (who has the final say in the pricing) will get a bigger picture of what they’re dealing with. Believe it or not, the dealership salespeople are actually trying to help you get into the new car, not turn you away.

sales person on lot
Salesmen Victor Zeng (right) assists customer Gary Zhao from Los Angeles at Toyota dealership while shopping for a new vehicle. | (Photo by Getty Images/Bob Riha, Jr.)

Not answering the phone

When I was a car salesman, every dealership that I worked at required that we made a lot of phone calls every day to drum up some sort of business. After all, how am I going to sell a car if there’s no one to sell to? As such, we were required to make anywhere from 50 to 100 calls per day, since it’s a “numbers game.” However, the main component of that game was leaving messages on customers’ voicemails 90 percent of the time.

I know, getting phone calls from car salespeople is just as annoying as the random spam calls that we all get every day, but the difference is that the car salesperson is calling you because you actually showed interest in a car. So it’s not too polite when you hang up on them or give them a courtesy call or text to let them know that you’re not interested in a car anymore. It really only takes a couple of seconds to let them know, so just pick up the phone.

business person on phone
Close up detail of a businessman working at a desk with a smartphone and laptop computer, taken on January 31, 2019. (Photo by Neil Godwin/Future via Getty Images)

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Not confirming their appointment

Lastly, I know that “adulting” is hard. It’s tough having to deal with family and work obligations in addition to finding time to relax on the weekends, so car shopping might not be the first priority on your to-do list. But if you happened to set up an appointment to check out a car this weekend and you decide that you can’t make it, let your salesperson know ahead of time.

Much like the phone calls, one of the most important parts about getting a customer into the dealership is making an appointment with them. And if said customer completely flakes on the appointment that they set up, then the salesperson has to call them to try and set up another one. As you can probably see, it ends up being an endless cycle of phone tag, which could have been avoided if you just picked up the phone or at least confirmed that you’re not able to make the appointment.