Despite being in the age of internet car shopping, some dealers will still dig deep in the old bag of tricks to close a sale and prevent you from shopping elsewhere. One of the classic tricks is when they say “this deal is only good for today,” which is, of course, mostly nonsense.
I was helping a customer get a new Buick TourX (see people do buy them) and after an initial test drive, the client returned to the dealer with his family to make sure everyone was comfortable in the car. The dealer sensed they could make a deal right then and made an offer that seemed fairly aggressive for the market, the total discount with rebates was around $7,800 off the MSRP.
The dealer said that there was a $1500 discount built into that price that was a “Father’s Day Special” and they would not be able to honor that on Monday. However, this customer needed to move some money around for his down payment and didn’t have the funds in hand to close that deal. He told the dealership he would be back next week and if they maintained that price he would buy the car.
Once he had his down payment ready he reached back out to the dealership only to find out that they weren’t willing to do the price they offered him only two days prior and the new discount was only $6,300 off with rebates. After some back and forth via phone and email the dealer agreed to a $6,800 discount. He wasn’t satisfied with that arrangement so he sent the numbers to me, to see if a better deal was possible.
I contacted a few stores in the region and made them aware of the offer on the table, both stores came back with offers at $8,000 off the MSRP on similar units. Since the original dealer where he conducted the test drive had the preferred color choice and was the most convenient, we leveraged the other quotes back against the first store and they agreed to match it.
This case illustrates a few things, first, that dealership had the ability to honor that quote from the weekend but wanted to push their luck and jerk the customer around. It wasn’t until they faced the possibility of losing the sale did they agree to a more competitive offer. So the whole “this price is only good for today” line was obviously a ploy, deals don’t expire in a day.
However, I will say that factory rebate programs will change from month to month so if you are shopping on the last day of the month, and you walk, you will risk those rebates changing. Which is why I don’t recommend shopping on the last day of the month because, despite old-school car buying tips that say you will catch a dealer in a desperate situation to get the best deal, this isn’t the most effective way to leverage the lowest price.
But this instance wasn’t about an expiring factory rebate program, this was a discount out of the dealer’s pocket and their ability to sell that car at their rock bottom number doesn’t alter from day to day, it’s up to the dealership if they want to remain competitive or not.
The second thing this case illustrates is the importance of negotiating online and not in person. While not every dealership will be cooperative with an internet customer, the buyer retains the advantage by comparing quotes, and getting clarity on the numbers before they even walk through the door to sign the papers.
In other words, “This deal is only good for today” usually just means the dealer is afraid that you may find a better price elsewhere.