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The Most Complained About Dealership Experiences

Shopping for a car is like opening up a box of chocolates, you never really know what you’re going to get. You could either have a good experience and get the customer service, the great deal, and the exact car that you expect, or you can put through the wringer and left with a bad …

Shopping for a car is like opening up a box of chocolates, you never really know what you’re going to get. You could either have a good experience and get the customer service, the great deal, and the exact car that you expect, or you can put through the wringer and left with a bad taste in your mouth.

However, we all know it doesn’t take Forrest Gump to figure out what constitutes a “bad dealership experience. But in case you’re not in the know, here are the most popular and complained about dealership experiences.

High-pressure, bullying

Buying a car can be intimidating if you don’t really know what you’re doing. Sure, a car is a product like any other, which means that the transaction should be as easy as possible. But unfortunately, some salespeople make it as hard as possible.

While it doesn’t happen every time, it is still possible to get the one bad apple in the bunch via a pushy salesperson. After all, it’s their job to sell a car to you “today,” so that eager and intimidating salesperson is going to pull out all of the stops to get you to buy.

There have even been stories about salespeople locking customers in their offices until they buy or throwing the keys to their car on the roof so that the customer can’t leave. Again, it doesn’t happen often, but it has. So if you don’t feel right about the situation, just walk out.


Again, it’s hard to believe that any business would show any type of discrimination toward any customer as far as their business practice goes, however, it happens. Just like SavageGeese stated in the video above, there are dealerships out there that will treat people like they don’t have money and even make them fill out a credit application before test driving a car. On top of that, some dealership salespeople even talk down to women, or even worse, don’t talk to them at all if they’re accompanied by a man.

It’s a disgusting pill to swallow, but if you ever go to a dealership and face some kind of discrimination, be sure to talk to the general manager about it first and let them know about your complaint. Then you can always call the manufacturer and let them know how that a certain dealership treated you poorly.

TROY, OH – AUGUST, 9: Vehicles in the lot on August 9th, 2016 at Dave Arbogast Buick GMC in Troy, Ohio. Tesla has challenged the traditional model of automobile sales, going to a dealership and purchasing a vehicle, by creating a virtual sales platform where the vehicles are shipped to one of 67 nearby service centers two months after the customer chooses their options and puts a downpayment online. The National Auto Dealers Association, a strong and influential lobbyist group, is challenging the new platform. By cutting out the middleman, manufacturers can make profits higher than seen before. (Andrew Spear for The Washington Post via Getty Images)

Financing and dealer add ons

Another typical bad customer experience scenario is when the numbers are agreed upon and it’s time to sign the paperwork with the finance manager. However, this particular manager is not in charge of making sure all the contracts are signed, but they are also in charge of selling you on financing rates other “back-end products” like extended warranties and other car care items.

To be clear, they are just doing their job, however, some finance managers can take it too far. In the example used in the SavageGeese video above, he talks about how his car deal fell through because he wanted to finance with USAA and the dealer kept wanting him to finance through them.

The reason they pressured him is that USAA is for specialized buyers that are in the military or related to someone who is, which means that they get a low-interest rate and GAP insurance and that’s it. And since the dealer couldn’t work around that rate and mark it up or sell him any other products, they kept on pressuring him, which led him to walk away. While it’s uncommon, it does happen, just be prepared to walk away.

A car dealership salesman works on a sale
A car dealerships salesman | Susana Gonzalez/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Bait and switch

The old “bait and switch” routine is when dealers will advertise a car from its inventory, usually from the outgoing model year, at a really low price in order to bring customers in. The car in the ad typically has a stock number attached to it, and as you can imagine, it usually gets sold very quickly.

However, since the ad is still running on the dealer’s site or is seen by customers via e-mail, there are still people coming in for that specific car, only to be “switched” to another car on the lot.

Car Salesman
Car Salesman | Susana Gonzalez/Bloomberg via Getty Images

While anyone can say that it’s a shady tactic (it is), it’s technically not considered shady by the dealer, since they are indeed advertising an actual car that they have on the lot, the only issue is that it usually gets purchased quickly.

If anything, just be sure to read the fine print on the ad and make sure you know which car they are referring to, then call the dealer and ask them if it’s still on the lot. Chances are, it’s not, but you can at least have them find you something comparable without having to set foot in the dealership.


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