No love lost for fixed prices among car-buyers

couple shopping for car

July 3, 1996
Web posted at: 10:45 p.m. EDT

From Correspondent Ed Garsten

SOUTHFIELD, Michigan (CNN) -- Many car buyers see the dealer's office off the showroom as a line of scrimmage: If you're a good player, you score points by getting the price to drop. Some love the battle; some don't. (111K AIFF or WAV sound)

A new study shows that an increasing number of car shoppers just aren't buying the once- popular sales strategy of one-price, no-haggling car sales. According to the Dohring Co. survey, 12 percent more car buyers would rather haggle than accept one price, and slightly more women than men enjoy haggling.

"People tell us that not only do they not mind negotiations, but they like it, and it's a challenge," said Eric Hood of Hood and Associates.

customers' opinions on haggling

It all comes down to feeling you bartered down to the best deal. "I don't feel the price they are showing on the car is the lowest price they could offer, regardless if they tell me it's a one-price option," said one car buyer.

His perception isn't that far off, said Hood. "There's no doubt that people who haggle get a better deal than one-price. One-price sellers set prices that are significantly above what the negotiators do."

For three years, Oldsmobile took one-price selling for a spin. Its customers rebelled, and the auto industry's oldest nameplate went back to the haggle method. One Oldsmobile dealer said that one-price selling just didn't give him enough leverage to close the deal.

"With traditional pricing, you're able to show a customer additional money for their car, an opportunity to provide additional rebates and incentives," Oldsmobile dealer George Glassman said.

Saturn sticker price

For that reason, Ford has never gone to one-price selling. Rick Ortiz of the Ford Motor Company said the company's research indicates that a cross-section of people would like to negotiate.

Saturn remains one of the few hold-outs. Of course, it has always sold its cars at a fixed price. However, other car companies should watch out, because more and more customers are ready for a battle, and loving it.

"I came in here to get what I want to get, and if you can't give me what I want, don't even bother," said one woman.

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