Why Are Dealers Refusing To Negotiate If I Make A Really Low Offer?

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As Jalopnik’s resident car buying expert and professional car shopper, I get emails. Lots of emails. I’ve decided to pick a few questions and try to help out. This week we are talking about negotiating car deals, clearance pricing on Alfas, and legally registering a used car during coronavirus.


First up, how come some dealers just refuse to engage in negotiations if they feel your offer was “insulting.”

Early last year I was shopping for a Corvette and I couldn’t get a local dealership to negotiate on price at all via e-mail. I threw out a price and they didn’t even bother responding. After a phone call, it turns my offer was “too low” and “insulting” so they didn’t bother to respond. Isn’t that what negotiating is - you set the price, I counter-offer, then we meet in the middle? If my price was too low, let’s begin the negotiation process! Needless to say, I didn’t buy from this place and won’t ever because of their crappy communication.

There is a bit of an art to negotiating a deal. If you make an offer on something, you want to throw a number out there that is achievable. If not, the seller thinks you have an unrealistic expectation on the price and they don’t want to waste their time.

For a moment let’s put aside our feelings about dealerships and imagine you are selling a house. Your asking price is $300,000 and that number is in-line with similar homes in the region and you have a bottom dollar number in mind of $275,000. If someone offered $200,000 are you likely to engage them in a conversation? Probably not, since the gap is too far away and I bet you would think that is an “insulting offer.” But if someone offered $250,000 while you aren’t willing to come down that low it’s an offer that is close enough to counter-offer.

With dealerships, often the best way to have them come down on price is not to just throw a number out there, but to find a more competitive bid on a similar car. Now you have an offer that is achievable and the dealer may understand the risk of losing the sale if they don’t compete.

Will the bonkers deals on Alfa Giulia Quadrifoglios come back?

I’ve been following the market for the QV for the past 6 months. In December 2019 and January 2020, there were several (15+) new MY2018 Giulia Quadrifoglios advertised for $20k-25k off MSRP to get the leftovers sold. I’ve seen one actually sold for exactly $30k off MSRP; granted, this one’s MSRP was $90k-ish (Sparco seats, CCB, and NRing edition). It’s my understanding there was an FCA “dealer cash”; which allowed this kind of pricing. Unfortunately, I was not ready to move forward at that time.

Have you had much dealings with a new MY2019 / MY2020 Giulia Quadrifoglio? I am seeing mere $5k-10k off for MY2019s advertised right now. I did reach out to few dealers (with 2019 and/or 2020 models in stock) and they don’t seem all that interested to make a deal. Perhaps it’s due to their limited operation capacity with COVID-19.... or that’s their usual stance.

My (somewhat arbitrary) goal is at least $20k off MSRP for a MY2019.

You said it yourself that the available discounts at the time of upwards of $30,000 off the MSRP were due to “dealer cash” from the factory. If that back-end money isn’t being given to the dealerships they can’t give it to you. Keep in mind that the invoice cost on a Quadrifoglio is somewhere around five percent off the MSRP, so if a dealer is discounting that car over $5,000 they are taking a loss. They are not going to voluntarily take an additional $15,000 haircut on a car without someway to off-set that.


It’s possible that Afla will put some more cash on the hood of the QVs in the coming months. However, automakers don’t have an unlimited well of rebate money to use so the discounts they offer have to be strategic, and often in down markets they focus on moving the volume cars not the specialty vehicles.

And finally, if you do want to buy a new car how do you get it registered if the DMV is closed?

I’m trapped in New York City right now; I’d love to be able to get myself far, far away, or to have an option to drive to take care of my parents if they get sick.

It seems like plenty of people are still trying to sell used cars but I cannot for the life of me figure out any way that I can buy one, new or used, without an in-person visit to the DMV, and the DMV is closed indefinitely. I don’t currently have a car so I have no plate to transfer. Are there any options that I’m missing?

I see that Iowa and Texas have suspended some of their registration requirements; but as a resident of NY, I’m stuck with having to register in NY, right? Some states do offer temporary plates; New York doesn’t, but maybe I’m missing something?


Yeah, this is a tricky one, if you are buying from a private party you can’t keep their plates on the car, and with the DMV closed you can’t process the paperwork for new plates. While the online services offered by DMVs vary state by state, New York does not seem to allow for online registration of vehicles bought via private sale. However, if you did manage to buy a car from a dealership they would likely be able to issue temporary tags and then process the regular plates once everything opens up again.

Got a car buying conundrum that you need some assistance with? Email me at tom.mcparland@jalopnik.com!


Phil Layshio

I don't have to be as diplomatic as Tom does, the dealers don't respond to your absurdly low offers because you are wasting their fucking time.