I mean, the title of this post kind of sums it up, doesn’t it?
We started off with grand plans. There was a long list of cars we wanted to check out, and we even made the nerdiest spreadsheet of all time, which listed car costs and features.
D test drove a couple, and we test drove a few together. We went to test drive the top car on D’s list, a Honda CR-V, one night after work. On our way there, we promised each other, “We’re not buying a car tonight.”
Fate laughed in our faces.
First of all, it’s a nice car! And it had some amenities that were on our “desirables” list (again, see the nerdsheet). More importantly, it had all of the qualities that we deemed important: all-wheel drive (D’s requirement), not-too-terrible gas mileage (mine), cargo space (D’s, but I agreed it would be nice), big back seat (both), USB hookups (both, and I’m aware that this is such a shallow thing to insist upon in a car).
Knowing that the price on the sticker is a big fat lie, we asked what they really wanted for the car. The brought back a sheet with a bunch of numbers and also a sheet with the monthly payment (they seemed to think it was really important, but we were all, “whatever” and just looked at the bottom line, the out-the-door price). We said, “Wow that’s a lot,” and got up to go because we were hoping to test drive a Subaru that same night.
Our salesman told us to wait, scurried off, and came back with another price. This made us pause, because it was lower than Edmund’s True Market Value (thanks Tom and StackingPennies for that suggestion!). Still, we’d made our pact – no buying. The salesman left and came back again with an even lower price, but we still didn’t want to take the plunge.
The salesman got a little pushy at this point. We’d mentioned we were interested in the Mazda CX-5, and he just started trash talking the hell out of it. So I did something I’m not proud of – I whipped out the nerdsheet. I pointed out that the mid-level CX-5 comes standard with all of the features that we’d have to upgrade to get on the CR-V, so we’d basically be paying more to get the same.
He came back with a higher out-the-door price that had us paying less for the car but included an extended warrantly. At that point, I slung my purse over my shoulder and said that if we weren’t going to buy the car at the lower price, how could he expect us to buy it at a higher price? I was really cranky because the Subaru dealer was closed and I’d all of a sudden realized that we were haggling over a car that we weren’t sure we wanted to buy yet.
One more price. It included a stupid prepaid maintenance “club,” but he wouldn’t take it off. Even so, the cost of the “club” + all of the car stuff was still under the invoice cost listed on Edmunds.com. It was invoice, you guys. We accidentally negotiated down to invoice. I had Edmund’s open on my phone, and I whispered this to D. And then we very politely asked if we could have a few minutes. And we decided to go for it, if they’d give us a cargo tray for the back (it was like $100, probably cost them $30, so not a huge coup).
Our sales guy was a little slimy. It’s to be expected (I don’t think people become car salesmen to help others). So he said we had to finance the car to get the price. Fine. We put down the maximum down payment on the car that he would allow (and we’ll just pay off the rest when the bill comes), and put as much on the credit card as he’d let us ($2500).
We though we were done, but then it was time to bully us into the extended warranty AGAIN. They even offered us 0% financing, but it wasn’t worth the $1800 that the extended warranty would cost. They had the financial guy take us to his office and refuse to let us leave for AN HOUR. Finally, we just were “rude” and said we didn’t want it and that we were sick of being there and being hounded. Then they acted all offended, but thankfully stopped badgering us. We signed the papers and picked the car up a few days later.
The best part? When we got home, we read the paperwork, and we could cancel the prepaid maintenance club. Meaning that we ended up paying $250 under invoice.
I’m not fooled into thinking that spending over $25,000 on a car is “saving,” but I’m happy with the price we paid and the car we got. The only thing we’re kicking ourselves over is the fact that we probably could have canceled that extended warranty too, which would have saved us another $375. Still, I could spend weeks lamenting the extra money we could have squeezed out of the dealer, and it’s just not productive. Next time, though, we’ll know.
And that’s how we accidentally paid under invoice for a new car.