Kicking Tires
The Internet is putting the car buyer back in the driver's seat.
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I recently bought a new car for the first time in several years.

Now, like most people, I enjoy thinking about buying a new car. I enjoy looking at new cars and test-driving them, and I like having a new car. A lot.

The part I dread, or used to, is negotiating the deal. Every car I ever bought, I
walked away with a nagging feeling that I'd been taken advantage of.

Thanks to the Internet, this time was different.

I knew going in precisely what I wanted. I knew dealer invoice on the model I wanted. I knew the options and what they cost. I knew about holdbacks, floorplanning and dealer incentives.

Without leaving my office or haggling with salespeople, I had a clear idea of the best price I could expect to get. I even had an approved loan in hand.

I knew that the first dealer I went to wanted $2,000 more than I ought to be paying, but the second was offering me a good deal. Guess who got my business.

When the finance guy told me, "We're losing money on this deal," I could look him in the eye and say with confidence, "No, you're not." He blinked first. I freely admit I enjoyed that.

We wrapped up the transaction quickly and relatively painlessly, and I drove away smiling.

We've talked a lot in these pages about the power of the Web and how it is changing the way we all do business. Information, as the cliché goes, is power, and the weekend before last I got a fine object lesson in how information is enabling the shift of power from seller to buyer. It felt good to be in the driver's seat, literally as well as figuratively.

I'll tell you, though: I'd hate to be a car salesman these days.

Larry Tuck, Editor

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