Here Is What It Really Means When Dealers Want To 'Establish A Relationship' Instead Of Sending A Quote

Illustration for article titled Here Is What It Really Means When Dealers Want To 'Establish A Relationship' Instead Of Sending A Quote
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In most transactions, having a good relationship between two parties can make for a mutually beneficial agreement. But some car dealerships seem to think that building this relationship is a prerequisite to have the salesperson take the simple step of honestly disclosing a price.


As I mentioned in my previous post about the 911 GT3, relationships with dealerships can matter a lot. However, what I am talking about in this instance is not the relationship of being a long-term customer who is buying high-end hardware to get a preferential spot for a limited production car. What I have encountered several times are dealers that want to hide behind this concept of “building a relationship” rather than just send a price quote as requested.

Recently, I was shopping for a used Hyundai for a customer in Florida. Trying to get quotes for a Hyundai in Florida is already asking for trouble because the Hyundai brand is a bit notorious for a dealer network that is typically less than cooperative, and the Sunshine State seems to be a haven for the slimiest of slimy car dealers. My client spotted a used Tucson at a local Hyundai store and told me that they had already reached out to the dealer a few times only to get the runaround. I mentioned that my experience with that auto group was not positive but I would give it a shot.

I spoke with the salesperson on the phone and he confirmed the car was available. I told him who I was and that I was representing a client that was interested in the car. He very curtly responded with “We don’t work with brokers.” I informed the salesperson that I am not a broker, since I was not asking the dealer for any kind of referral fee, and that all he has to do was send me an itemized quote and the customer could close within the next day or so. I even made it clear that the posted price was market competitive and that all we needed was a detailed total with all tax and fees.

The salesman ratcheted up the intensity and said “We will only work with the customer directly.” I then told him that the customer already attempted to get a price quote with a few follow-ups and never received the request.

Then he hit me with this one, “We will absolutely not send any price quotes over the internet and we want the customer here in person to establish a relationship before discussing a price. Your customer is welcome to contact me directly.” I asked him why my customer should contact him if he wasn’t going to get a quote...the phone hung up.

I don’t know of anyone who is car shopping in 2021 that wants to go in, sit down, have a pointless conversation to have a “relationship” with this salesperson just to know what the item they are buying will actually cost. Imagine, for a moment, you had to do this for any other product you buy to get a price. In order to know what that new iPhone is going to cost you had to go to your local Apple store and “establish a relationship” with the Apple Genius on shift.


In case you haven’t already figured it out, “establish a relationship” is dealership speak for “we know we are going to pull some nonsense on this price, so we want you here so you are less likely to walk and buy elsewhere.”

I’ve worked with hundreds of dealers and the professional ones will give you numbers in writing because they respect the fact that the “relationship” entails a level of trust between the seller and the buyer. The next time you hear that line and the dealer refuses to send you a price, that is a good sign to take your business elsewhere.

Tom is a contributing writer for Jalopnik and runs He saves people money and takes the hassle out of buying or leasing a car. (



I work in an industry that specifically helps car dealerships or other sellers with the information they need to get accurate tax and title quotes and all documentation required for the registration and titling of vehicles.

Something you seem to be missing is the absolutely absurd complexity in this business. There are entire businesses whose entire existence is dedicated to figuring out ways to consolidate and deliver the information to dealerhsips. This is often the hold up, especially since you are likely doing nationwide searches.

I hate to see these stories, especially from this site, on a weekly basis essentially accusing every aspect of dealerships of fraud and shady practices. Why don’t you investigate the insane complexity of conducting these deals? Do you think car dealerships employ sometimes dozens of finance staff because they like to waste money?

Again, as we start to gaze towards a digital dealership future, and 100+ year old fortune 500 companies are making moves to coup and kill THOUSANDS of locally owned businesses across the country (many of them the largest in their communities,) the media certainly seems to have no understanding of why these things happen beyond “HAHA CAR DEALERSHIPS WANT TO RIP YOU OFF.” Absolutely absurd.

And trust me, the manufacturers and new digital dealers are S-T-R-U-G-G-L-I-N-G to figure out specifically the out of state TTL side of this. The big digital dealers are using legally questionable workarounds to sell their vehicles nationwide. You have fifty states with dozens of jurisdictions all making their own rules. But sure, the salesman is just a gigantic prick and that business serves no purpose other than extorting people. Very realistic and accurate account of what’s happening - you’re a real expert.