Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Buyer Beware

In today's world, where there is so much information out there, it seems as though it is becoming all the more important to be an informed consumer.

I make this comment in large part not just because of recent scandals surrounding Enron and Bernie Madoff but rather because a few a weeks ago, I was in the market for a new vehicle, but approached the situation in a way that was anything but well-informed and believe you me, I learned the hard way.

I went into the car dealership not having a clue about the financing process or what to expect, but somehow I thought I was going to walk away from the dealership a happy customer. Boy, was I wrong, ladies and gentlemen. I had no idea about how financing worked or what to expect. 

Yet, even though my experience wasn't too pleasant, I recognize that this doesn't necessarily mean I don't have some words of wisdom to share with others that may help them, below you will find some tips and insights I have gleaned from my experience, I hope this can be of assistance to you:

Know what you want (cost, mileage, reliability, fuel efficiency)
If you don't know what you want, how will anyone else? So first thing first, define what you are looking for before you get onto the lot.

Have a list of questions/ concerns
After you determine what you want, now is the time to prepare some well-thought out questions or concerns that you can  pose to the sales person upon arriving at the dealership. For instance, if you have questions about financing the process, then now is the time to raise these concerns.

Understand the role of the salesperson
The salesperson's role is to sell cars, point blank, plain and simple. So be mindful of that in your dealings with them.

Bring someone with you
Two heads are better than one as the saying goes. When all else fails bring along a friend or third party that can see things you may have missed had you gone to the dealership solo. 

Be realistic and bluntly honest as it relates to your expectations (budget)
Its no use in pretending to be something you are not. If you're not a Rockefeller, I advise being honest and realistic in your expectations with the sales person so they can put you in something you can afford. 

Be aware of your credit score as this can impact interest rates
Your financing options and interest rates will be determined in large part by your credit score, so be aware of it. To get a free copy of your credit report visit Annual Credit Report's website

Be aware of or take into consideration auto insurance costs that will go along with your monthly premium

Carefully review any customer contracts/ loan agreements before signing the dotted line
Indeed, as the saying goes, 'the devil is in the details'. In other words, read your contract carefully as these documents are binding.

Properly file a report or complaint if you become the recipient of a lemon with Consumer Affairs

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