Driving an easy bargain
By. T. Foster Jones
I HAVE MET exactly one person in my life
who actually enjoys haggling at a car dealership. Me? Not so much. Who wants that tension, that back-and-forth, the “let me go into
the back and ask my manager about your offer
(again)” game playing that can go on for hours
before you’ve even begun any paperwork.
Second, there’s the no-haggle aspect. The
Costco Auto Program has low, prearranged
pricing with participating dealers. You go in,
test-drive the car, they show you the price
sheet and, if you like it, off you go.
When the time came for me to start looking at new cars, it made sense that as someone
who has written about the Costco Auto Program in the past, it was time for me to give the
program a thorough test drive.
And third, the prearranged price is usually
much better than anything you are likely to get
otherwise—even if you were willing to put in
several hours of hard bargaining.
In both cases I was supplied with names of
more than one authorized Costco dealer contact for each dealership, and informed that I
would be contacted within 24 hours and that
I needed to print out the page and bring it with
me to the dealership. The dealers both called
and emailed, and we set up appointments for
the following day.
My reasons for being drawn to the Costco
Auto Program were multifold.
First, it’s simple. You go to Costco.com,
click on “Services,” then click on “Costco Auto
Program.” Shop for the car (or cars) you’re interested in, and locate the nearby dealer(s). An
authorized dealer contact from the dealership
you select will contact you by phone and/or
email to make an appointment.
It’s important to remember that when you
go to the dealership, you ask for the specific
person you made the appointment with. Don’t
just announce, “I’m here for the Costco deal,”
as you may end up with whatever salesperson
is available, and that person may not be entirely familiar with the process.
For more information about the Costco
Auto Program, visit Costco.com and search
“CAP12” or call 1-800-458-1692. Costco
and its affiliates do not sell automobiles or
negotiate individual transactions. Members
must purchase from a participating dealer.
So, off I went to the Costco Auto Program
website, which lets you browse by make, body
type, price, new or pre-owned, luxury, gas
mileage and more. There is a car-comparison
feature so you can better see what advantages
and disadvantages exist for one car over another. You can check out specs and features,
colors and photos, as well as safety and warranty information. The site even allows you to
preselect options (color, trim, interior, etc.) and
shows you what options are already included.
This allows the authorized dealer contact to see
which options you prefer so you are most likely
to be shown exactly the car you’re looking for.
Having just sold my car of 10 years, a
2000 Honda gas/electric Insight, I was interested in staying with some kind of hybrid
vehicle. After looking at several models, I
ended up selecting a new Honda Insight and
a Toyota Prius C. I chose my colors and options, and hit “Locate a Dealer.”
At each dealership, I met with my contact,
who asked to see my Costco card. We confirmed the models I wanted to look at, test-drove them, then went over the numbers. By
“went over,” I mean I was shown the member-only price sheet, which shows the prearranged
Costco price. At that point, one can say “OK,”
and start the paperwork, or “I want to think
about this, discuss it with my spouse, etc.,”
and it’s done. No arm-twisting, no delays, no
“What’s it going to take to get you into a car
today?” kind of experience.
I was in the latter category. I still wanted
to look around. I needed to talk with my wife,
and we’re in the process of moving, so there
were other factors to consider.
2013 Toyota Prius C
Two days later, I received a follow-up
email and phone call from both contacts,
asking if I needed any additional information, and explaining that they were available
to answer any questions. That was it. I felt
respected, not harassed.
All in all, I was most impressed by how
relaxed and smoothly run the experience
was. This may not have been the week for me
to buy a car through the Costco Auto Program, but when I’m ready, I know it’s there
for me. C
MARCH 2013 ;e Costco Connection 77
3/13/13 11:18 AM