The Negotiator Magazine

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VI. VEHICLE NEGOTIATING: ROUND FIVE

Once you have negotiated the vehicle price and trade-in value - and have signed the purchase contract and loan agreement, if any - a few unscrupulous dealers may try one last bargaining ploy to obtain additional profit. When you return to the dealer with your current vehicle to pick up your new vehicle, the salesperson will look at your old vehicle and "discover" some scratches or dings they had not previously noticed. They will suggest that these must have occurred after they evaluated your trade-in and suggest that the trade-in figure will have to be reduced by several hundred dollars to reflect these "changes." Unsophisticated buyers who are psychologically committed to the vehicle they have purchased often succumb to this tactic and agree to pay more for that vehicle. If this ploy is tried on you, unequivocally state that the scratches and dings noted were there when the trade-in was originally evaluated, and suggest possible legal action of the dealer doesn't honor the agreed upon contract price. Dealers who employ this deceitful tactic will usually give in to someone threatening legal action and forego any price increase.

VII. CONCLUSION

If you appreciate the multi-step negotiation process you will have to go through to obtain an optimal vehicle purchase price and are carefully prepared for each, you should be able to save hundreds of dollars when you buy your next vehicle. If you hate to negotiate, ask a friend who does not mind the bargaining process to accompany you and act as your agent. The two of you working together should be able to achieve beneficial terms.


Charles B. Craver is the Freda Alverson Professor of Law at George Washington University. He is the author of The Intelligent Negotiator (2002 Prima/Crown) and Effective Legal Negotiation and Settlement (5th ed. 2005 LEXIS). Over the past thirty years, he has taught negotiating skills to over 70,000 lawyers and businesspeople through public presentations and in-house training programs. He can be reached at: ccraver@law.gwu.edu

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July 2005