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The car is selected; everyone is wearing smiles. Then, with a crocodile grin, a salesman asks you to see the finance person in the “closing room.” Many folks start to feel the pressure come on and a slight uneasy feeling overtakes them. What many don’t know is that this is your time to shine. This room is where you, the customer, have them by the throat and you don’t even know it.

If I may be permitted a fishing metaphor here: if it’s the salesman’s job to hook and reel you in, it’s the finance person’s job to land you in the boat. I don’t begrudge either one of them their jobs because everyone needs to make a living — however, that doesn’t mean I don’t have fun messing with them just as hard as they’re messing with me. I normally start by calling them by a different random name each time I address them: Jimmy-Ray, Sam, Mike, Steve, Riley, Jack, and so on – just to keep things interesting.

Once you arrive in the finance office, don’t panic. All the closing room represents is the final chance for the dealership to super-size its profits. They have services and they want to try to sell them to you. There are extended warranties, service contracts, Sky Links, and protection plans. So many things start flying at you so fast it’s easy to get swept away. Remember two things: it’s mostly BS that will just add to your payment in the long run, and you can always say no.

“No” is a fascinating word in the finance office because they aren’t used to hearing it in repetition. “Do you want the extended warranty, Mr. O’Hara?” To which I replied, “No, it’s still covered under the manufacturer’s warranty for another 2 years for the mileage I put on it. ” What followed this statement was well-rehearsed pageantry and concerned disbelief about how I was riding the line of danger. “Really?” I asked, “So you’re expecting the truck to fall apart in a year from now?” A stammering stab at a save followed quickly. Then we moved on.

“Paint protection plan coverage, Mr. O’Hara?” That got another chuckle. “No, I own wax.” And we moved on again.

“Here’s your gap insurance coverage form.” I snorted quite loudly on this one and said, “Are you actually looking at the numbers here, Chief? I don’t need gap, I’m not upside down in the truck, and I’m financing less than 5k.” My personal favorite was the Sky Link offer, which for those not in the know, is a satellite-location recovery system that uses cell towers to locate your vehicle if it’s stolen. Their selling point was that it would be found in “less than an hour no matter what” and that it couldn’t be beaten — “very much worth the money, you know.”

When I told them you could defeat the entire system by driving the car to a parking garage right after stealing it and stripping it where there was no cell signal, then leaving it and making your escape without a care in the world — there was stunned silence.

The closing room is a state of mind, really. Just think of it like a game where you hold all the cards. The way I look at it, if you don’t get up to walk out at least once in the closing room you’re not playing the game hard enough.

One last tip — never let them charge you $250 for floor mats. They are just rolling extra money into the financed portion of the vehicle at your expense rather than ordering $35 mats from the dealer book.


15 Responses to The Art Of The “Closing Room”

  1. Sprague says:

    I like the paint sealant that the dealer here tries to sell. They say they take the car right off the truck, do some sort of paint cleansing and then use a special sealant on it. So basically if you buy any of the cars off their lot they stick you with the sealant charge.

    If this is so great, why don’t they do it at the factory right after the paint is applied?

  2. JC says:

    “I normally start by calling them by a different random name each time I address them: Jimmy-Ray, Sam, Mike, Steve, Riley, Jack, and so on”

    So they know you’re a massive bell-end?

  3. Sean O'Hara says:



    No, actually because they do the same to you. It’s unnerving to have someone call you by your name every 15 seconds so why not unnerve them back. It’s a dance. They try to get on “your side” and “find you the best deal” and really it’s all just an attempt to fish out what you have to spend and push you to that limit.

  4. Aaron says:

    I love car buying… I go in knowing exactly what the cost of the vehicle is and thats my opening with the sales guy. If I feel generous I go up $100 and I won’t budge from the price either, if they wont go for it I simply get up and walk to the front door, they usually chase after you like your dropping diamonds or something. There is always a dealer who will sell to me at my price so its not a problem if the first wont go for it.

  5. ambush says:

    Heh, the big boxes are the same way. Can I interest you in the extended warranty, do you want to buy that $200 monster cable for that new TV, etc. Oh and my personal favorite, the USB cable that costs more than the printer.

  6. george says:

    yea, no is a great word. the way i’ve bought cars is to study what i want and ‘am willing to pay and then sticking to that. i then tell them i have a price in my mind and they need to meet that. i give no hint. i also say that they have one chance. either i walk or i buy it. i have saved mucho money doing that. i even say no to add ons i don’t want. when they say its already in i say “take it off/out. most times it stays.

  7. craig says:

    what george said.

  8. Wayne D. says:

    The “paint protection” is a lot like the RejeX aircraft polish. It is a 1 micron polymer coating developed for aircraft use. You need a really clean surface when you put it on the first time so you don’t seal stuff in, so a good buffing is required. It’s awesome stuff that is really slippery, stays on for about 6 months, but labor intensive. http://www.skygeek.com/61002.html

  9. Rembret says:

    My last purchase, I made the finance guy bring the paperwork to me. This whole dance goes a lot faster when you take them out of their element.

  10. Mike47 says:

    Walking out of the showroom is a great tactic… especially on the last day of the monthly sales contest between salesmen. Talk about entertainment! You can almost buy for less than cost those times.

  11. zoomzoomjeff says:

    @ Sean

    “It’s unnerving to have someone call you by your name every 15 seconds so why not unnerve them back.”

    LOL, I agree. I was chuckling when reading this because I’ve done the same thing. Although I usually keep it close to their name to make it slightly believable–enough to get in their head. It’s totally a game, and it’s you vs. them. If you don’t believe that, then you will get taken. I’ve been on that end before and now I’m wiser for it. So I don’t ever let it happen again.

    Similar thing happened a few weeks ago with a Kirby vacuum salesman tag team effort in my home. At this stage in my life I don’t finance anything unless I absolutely need to. (car explodes and need a new one tomorrow) We pay cash after having saving up for it. Therefore, I’m not buying anything TODAY. That stupifies most sales people like a Mike Tyson right hook, and they can’t even get up off the ground after that. That usually shifts the power back in my corner and I do what I want from there.

  12. charlieperry says:

    I always do everything right. Pay consumer reports for the cost info on the car I want, add a reasonable (liberally reasonable) profit for them, Go in on December 30, offer cash, do just like you say in the above article, reason with them (and I mean I am liberally reasonable) and then walk out. Then I go home and wonder how I am going to ever get that car I really really want when the next nearest dealership to Anchorage is 600 miles away in Fairbanks.

  13. RobertC says:

    I turn down everything. I once made them take their molded plastic dealer ID off if they didn’t pay me to advertise for them. (I was feeling especially put upon that day)

    My favorite thing though, is saying no to the finance charges until it drops a LOT. I see no reason for the dealer to have a holdback on financing, they already have a $100 “processing fee”, let that be their profit.

    If they don’t like it, someone else will do it. Always have, always will.

  14. A.Crush says:

    Look up online what the dealers are buying the vehicle for and you will have a figure to work with. After that you know how much profit they’re trying to get from it.

    Buy at the end of the year and you can get a pretty screamin’ deal. I got a new car for a few hundred over cost once….I didn’t mind them making a few hundred though.

    The thing about paying is, never tell them any payment details until AFTER you’ve discussed the price. Then tell them where the money is coming from. This works especially well with stuff like the GM credit card where you can use hundreds if not thousands towards a car. If you tell them up front you’ll be using it, they’ll take that into account on the price. Don’t tell until you’re closing, and watch the stunned finance person when he then realizes you’ll be getting it for a few thousand under cost instead of a few hundred over it. But don’t feel bad, they do get dealer credit for those kind of programs.

  15. Tim says:

    The only thing I can disagree with in this article is gap insurance. I mean like you said your only into the car 5k but what if the car is totaled on the way home? Your insurance company sure as hell isn’t going take care of your 5k obligation. Your kinda dammed if you do dammed if you don’t.

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