“Where is she?” The manager’s voice boomed across the dealership. It was aimed at one of his sales people, but it was in reference to me. “Let me talk to her! Another car!” He came sweeping in my direction. “What do you mean, you’re getting that other car?”
Moments earlier, my husband and I had told the salesperson, a pockmarked kid who couldn’t have been more than a year or so out of college, that while we very much enjoyed our test drive (the fifth of the day), and it was very, very close, we were going with a car we’d test driven earlier in the day. While the salesperson went to find his manager—a dealership requirement, he told us—I asked my husband to phone the other dealership and ask them to start drawing up paperwork. So I was alone when the barrel-chested, regionally-accented, manager came sweeping up to me.
“What do you mean, you’re getting that other car?” He named the make and model.
“My mind’s made up,” I told him.
“Aren’t you concerned about that manufacturer’s recall?”
“This is a new car, so it’s not affected by that.”
“Well, can I show you a video?” He was clearly incensed.
“No.” I kept my voice level, smiled at him.
“Are you sure?”
My husband returned and the manager extended his hand. His tone changed at the appearance of this other male in the conversation. “Well, good luck to you, then.”
A few hours later, I drove off the lot with the car I’d test driven earlier in the day, bolstered in my confidence because of that manager’s treatment.
Buying a new car because you want to buy a new car can be fun. Buying a new car because you need to buy a car, which was my situation? Less so. The dealers think they can smell your desperation and manipulate you accordingly. Especially when you’re a lady. So, don’t be a lady when shopping for a car. Be a MOTHERFUCKING LADY. Here’s how:
Do your research.
Before you show up at a dealership, try to get a feel for the models you’re interested in. What are those cars known for? What are their special features? Where did Consumer Reports or Edmunds rank them? What are the finishes and features that you must have? What are the ones that are just nice to have? Going into a dealership armed with some knowledge will not only save you time spent waffling over brochures or driving cars that aren’t right for you; it will also show dealers that you’re not just some girl who will believe whatever they tell you about the cars you’re looking at.
Speak the language.
A simple question using car vernacular correctly will go a long way in showing that you’re not easily impressed. Even if you don’t actually care about the answer (but you should—MOTHERFUCKING LADIES don’t need a man to explain their cars to them), quizzing the dealer about the engine, brakes, or mileage makes you seem like more of an equal.
Learn the features.
New cars are complicated. (The car I ended up with has an HDMI port built into the center console, so I can synch certain apps from my phone to the on-board computer.) Ask how the bells and whistles work during your test drive. It will keep the dealer engaged and also give you a point of comparison if it comes down to two cars that are neck-and-neck. It’s true—the car I didn’t buy, from the pushy dealership? The thing that made my decision easiest for me was the size and placement of the back-up camera monitor!
Don’t be afraid to negotiate.
Countless articles have been written about how women are afraid to negotiate when it comes to their salaries, and this behavior carries over to other negotiations as well. The sticker price a dealer gives you is very rarely, if ever the sticker price. Even a highly in-demand vehicle gets some play: if the dealer can’t or won’t budge on the number (“because there’s always someone who will pay the full amount,” as was explained to me), there are other concessions they can make: free or discounted all-weather floor mats, a cargo cover or net for your trunk, “dealer rates” on the installation of an auto-start system, and more. You’ll never know unless you ask, and asking alone doesn’t do anybody any harm.
Smile, but be firm.
If I weren’t in a hurry to be somewhere else (namely anywhere beside that dealership), I could have smiled at the angry manager all day. His condescending tone and his emphasis on safety were clearly employed because he was talking to a woman. Raising my voice or being terse with him would only have allowed him to write me off as another crazy woman who doesn’t know a damn thing about cars. By keeping my tone bright but my message firm in true MOTHERFUCKING LADY fashion, he could see my resolve—even if he didn’t want to acknowledge it until my husband came back.
While dealers could do a lot more to make the car-buying (or leasing) process more female-friendly, women also have the power to subvert the model and make the situation as friendly to them as possible. Be a MOTHERFUCKING LADY the next time you have to go to a dealership and see how your experience changes!
Image Credit: Wikipedia