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The buying game: how I circumvented the cheesy car salesman

Koray ISIK/Getty Images/iStockphoto

My old vehicle's days were numbered the first time I paid more than $100 to fill its tank with premium gas.

I'd like to say I did it for the environment, but really it was all about the money.

With a fuel-efficient model in mind, I visited a car dealership for a test drive. Dealerships used to be a good place to get taken for a ride, but those were the bad old days, right?

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However, the salesman that latched onto me used every trick in the bad car salesman playbook.

He seemed like a nice guy – a new pal, great! Coincidentally, his family mirrored mine. And he owned the same car I was shopping for, massaging my ego on the excellent choice I was making.

I looked at a three-year-old model, trying to decide whether to buy new or used. It was a popular model – going fast, he said. The previous owner loved it so much, he bought a new one. Better act quickly or it will sell. Got it.

When I later looked at the new model, they were so popular, he claimed, he would have a hard time finding one with my trim and colour preferences – base model, black.

Next was the discussion about the gas-guzzling SUV I wanted to trade in. A mechanic took it into the garage for an inspection while I waited in the showroom with my new pal. He chit-chatted, I waited. He spouted a few false statements about sales (No. 1 selling car!), and still I waited.

He read the situation wrong.

When I called him on his "inaccuracies," he started backpedalling. And still I waited for the trade-in assessment. Maybe the garage was busy, or maybe they were told to give the salesman time to work his magic.

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Finally, he "checked with the boss" and presented a number $4,000 shy of the car's Canadian Black Book value, and far lower than a search on Kijiji and Auto Trader indicated it was worth.

Not willing to waste another afternoon playing this game, I e-mailed all dealerships within a three-hour radius, explaining what I wanted. After a few easy negotiations, I picked the best deal. I got the car I wanted, with a fair price for my trade-in, and I didn't see the dealership until I picked up the car.

How was your last car-buying experience? Leave your comments here.

Send your automotive questions to globedrive@globeandmail.com

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