Shopping online

Today I started shopping for my next vehicle. I live in Orlando so Central Florida is my area to shop.  I have leased a number of Honda Accord’s, five or six.  I may consider other brands but I am going to shop Honda, first, by submitting an email request for a quote on leasing.  My email was very basic and included all of the information needed to quote a payment.

I asked for a Honda Accord, 4dr, EXL, 4cyl, 15000 miles a year, 36 months, 0 down and nothing due at signing. I explained that I am a loyalty customer and I already have an approval from Honda.   It was simple and to the point.

Almost immediately, I received auto responses stating that a representative will contact me within 24 hours.  It was about 30-45 minutes before I started getting emails from representatives and they were truly baffling.

One dealer, the first, asked these questions in their first email.

Which options and equipment are important to you?

Which colors do you prefer?

You inquired about a new Accord. Would you be open to a Certified pre-owned with a warranty? They are a great value.

When would be a good time for you to come in and test drive?

Obviously he had not read my email or he was trying to avoid giving me the payment information. The next dealer to contact me said they were working on the numbers and would get back to me, certainly better than the first dealer.   The third contact was from a dealer that quoted a payment and said it was only an estimate because they did not know about my credit but they thought it would be about $510 a month. then they added these questions:

Are you focusing your search only on the Accord?
What colors would you not consider on your next vehicle?
What day and time works best for a VIP test drive?

The fourth dealer asked me if I would consider a used vehicle, if I wanted zero down or zero out of pocket, (isn’t that the same thing?) actually the first payment of a lease is due at signing and some people want that figured into the payment.  Do I have a trade in?  The last thing in the email was “my next step was to call them.”

The second dealer contacted me again, 2 hours later. They gave me a payment estimate of 388-398 plus tax and then asked if I would be interested in stopping by.

The first dealer re-contacted me in a few hours, as well.  They included a complete quote that disclosed every piece of information.  The payment was higher than some others but at least they had finally done what I requested.

It is truly a shame that not one dealer gave me an exact payment right off the bat.  They want your phone number or they want you to come in. Not a single dealer made it simple and friendly. They were polite but they avoided the facts.  Dealers, in general, want you to be in a situation where they can close you either by the excitement or by “What would it take” and that is at the dealership

I emailed each dealer again and asked for the same specific information. Eventually they all gave me a number with an “if I could would ya?” attached.  The payments varied by $122 a month. That is $4342.00.  The lowest price being 381 and the highest being 510.  What if I did not shop and leased for $510 a month? I am sure it happens. Many dealers still try to manipulate and pressure in an email.

From this point the offers have all moved lower with my lowest at 359.67. That is 150.13  less then my highest quote, $5404.68.  I feel like it has been anything but friendly. If a dealer had given me what I asked for quickly and precisely, I would lease from them or at least give them a second chance, even if they were a few dollars higher than another.  On top of that, not one dealer gave a concrete reason why I should do business with them other then telling me they had a large inventory.

When shopping by email. Tell them exactly what you want. Be accurate. Give them the information they need. Don’t divulge any information you don’t want, phone number, address, trade (yet), be persistent.  Realize your credit score can affect the payment but worry about that later.

Once you have enough price information, go to the dealership and check out the facility and the car.  Find out why you should lease or buy from them.

About Geoffrey Jerome

I am a 35 year veteran of the automobile and motorcycle industry, author of nine published books, soon to be ten, Both fiction and nonfiction. I have two super kids, actually adults. I am Formerly from upstate New York, Ithaca. I like photography, technology, podcasting
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