Is this the end for negotiating a discount on a new car? | Auto Expert John Cadogan

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Auto Expert John Cadogan
Published at : 29 Nov 2020
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The car industry - still bending you over … and telling you (with a straight face) how this is a real plus for you.

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The car industry’s grubby little lobby group in the nest of arseholes known colloquially as Canberra - continues its production of weapons-grade bullshit.

See, a proposal being considered by a Senate committee next week would see prices for new cars fixed, eliminating haggling and negotiated discounts.

“That capacity to negotiate with someone who negotiates day in, day out in their lives, being the dealer, is a fear factor for some consumers. This takes away the negotiation price.”

Tony Weber there - Rear Admiral of the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries. Almost speaking the Queen’s English. One of my all-time favourite industry dudes. I find Mr Weber endlessly entertaining. A master. And you don’t see that very often.

The convoluted logic is, apparently: ‘we’ll take away your terror (of being ripped off by a professional rabid negotiator) by making sure everyone pays top-dollar and therefore gets ripped-off equally.

We’ll eliminate all of the discounts. Problem solved. Like, what next? Nuclear proliferation, cancer or world peace?

Currently, you can go to a dealer and negotiate a better price, or get ripped off by paying the full freight. Under this proposal, ‘full freight’ is the only option.

So, here’s the thing: Buying a new car is just like buying a fridge, or a TV. Or a camera. Retailers (called ‘car dealers’ in this instance) buy the cars from the carmaker. Selling them to you becomes the dealer’s problem at this point. Dealers can discount the prices as they see fit, because prices generally cannot be fixed under Australian law.

The only difference is: when you buy a TV or a camera, you see all the different brands of TVs and cameras up on the wall in some shop, and you can compare them directly. And this is really good - Sony has this, Panasonic has that, Canon does it like this … kinda thing.

With cars, dealers sell only one brand under the one roof, and you therefore must traipse all over town to view the direct competitors on your short list. That’s generally a bit of a bastard.

If refrigerators and TVs and bicycles and tools and cameras and hardware and caravans and boats and holidays and - everything else - can all be sold by independent retailers without price-fixing, why is it such a good idea to fix the price of cars? Riddle me that.

What is so special about cars? Why are cars so commercially unique and demanding of special regulatory consideration in this bilaterally grubby under-the-table up-touching ballet which seems to routinely to play out between politicians and lobbyists?

This is really happening because car companies are at war with car dealers, and they want to see them eliminated. Or, at the very least, grossly disempowered. Essentially carmakers want you to buy direct, from them, online, with no negotiation.

if the industry wants consumers to have real choice, as the grubby lobbyists often allege publicly, let’s see car dealers operate like Bunnings, or Bing Lee, or JB HiFi - let’s have new car dealerships selling Corollas alongside Mazda3s, Hyundai i30s, Subaru Imprezas and Kia Ceratos. In the next aisle we could have medium SUVs, and then, further inside, seven seaters, and then utes - like that.

Dealers could stock any brand they wanted, and none of the shitbox brands that routinely betray consumers and make them cranky.

Hands up if you’d like to see that, because I sure as shit would.
negotiatingdiscountExpert

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