Lorraine Explains: Why does buying a car suck?


While there has been a perhaps predictable shift in consumers moving more of their transactions online, it appears even for something as expensive as a vehicle, there may be no going back for traditional dealerships. People have found a way to maintain more control during a purchase that too often pitches into the unsavoury …

George Iny, president of the Automobile Protection Association (APA) had no qualms about diving in.

“After taking delivery of a vehicle, people are more likely to talk about the back and forth with the salesperson and manager over the price and financing or leasing, usually perceived as a sparring match, than will rhapsodize about the amazing test drive or fabulous vehicle demonstration, or great dealership architecture. That suggests that a good part of the emotional experience during shopping centred around not getting taken — a negative.”

Not getting taken. There’s also no denying Iny’s note that buying a car is an emotional experience. It’s why you’ve seen friends or family members end up with a radically different car than the one they told you they were seeking, or maybe why you’ve done it yourself. Price is less of an issue with seemingly endless loan terms — eight, nine years — whatever it takes to get your monthly payment to a manageable level.

Never, ever see a car price as just a monthly payment. Add it up. Cost in the financing. Stop ripping yourself off before someone else even gets you to sign a contract …

Are any extras worth it? According to Iny, “prepaid maintenance which is not limited only to the luxury German brands, and full coverage automaker extended warranties” are worth consideration …

Oversight and regulation in the auto sellers’ industry are not nearly as robust as they should be. The concept of being forced to take a dealership’s financing was news to many, and yet it is legal. Consider this lengthy quote from Iny:

Regulators are stuck in the mindset of warning letters and small fines, which non-compliant dealers correctly perceive as a manageable cost of doing business. Regulators should be suspending dealer licenses. APA saw the risk of having your dealership closed for two weeks in the event of a COVID outbreak resulted in an extraordinary level of public health compliance by franchised dealerships. But compliance was not up to the dealer regulators— it was up to public health authorities who considered dealerships no more entitled than other retailers. NO dealer regulator has so robust an approach to marketplace activity in Canada. And all of them fear that the dealers will misuse the political power of their associations to push back against the effective enforcement of retailing standards.

George Iny

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