DennisBeaverJune 21, 2014   •  By Dennis Beaver

Shopping for a new car is rarely a happy experience, even with so much information available online or in magazines such as Consumer Reports, as survey after survey reveals.

“It’s as if you are playing a game of cards and suddenly realize there are rules that no one told you about,” observes Ray Lopez, a 30 year “veteran of some of the worst sales behavior imaginable,” as he told us during one of the most interesting interviews with an author we have ever had.

Now retired, Lopez is dedicated to helping the public become smarter shoppers, and has done this remarkably well, with “Inside the Minds of Car Dealers.” So, if you are looking into the purchase of a new car, we recommend first reading his book.

One strategy saved a You and the Law staff member almost $4,000.

A magic show — Smoke and mirrors customers never see

“Think of a car dealer’s lot, showroom and hours of operation as a magic show — where the sales staff are the magicians, customers are the audience, seeing but not seeing the way in which they are manipulated,” he notes.

“Everything about the physical layout of the dealership-from where the sales people are ‘stationed,’ to the location of the sales offices – it’s all designed to catch you off guard, so that we can take advantage of your lack of knowledge.”

And it is precisely that — knowledge and insight — which Lopez gives the reader.

What’s the best day to buy a car?

“If possible, shop for a car on a weekday,” he points out, explaining, “Customer traffic is generally slower, allowing for the salesperson to give your more time and obtain a better price from management.

“But not mornings!! Absolutely not mornings or evenings!” Lopez insists, and the tools provided by this section of his book can easily save you hundreds to thousands of dollars.

“A morning arrival is someone who can’t wait to buy a car, and for me, is what we call a real lay down. I will get sticker price — or close to it — plus all kinds of extras you don’t need but which fattens my commission check.”

“What’s the problem with being an evening shopper at a dealership that’s open late?” We asked.

 “Consider this as dinner time at the zoo for lions — And you are on the menu!”

Walk in late? You’re tagged as a lay down

 “The fact that you are coming in that late tells the salesperson:

  • You want — likely need  — a car and do not want to leave without it.
  • This customer is really tired.  All they want to do is to get the car and go home.
  • I can convince you that this is a great deal, that I am your friend and we are going to rush this through so the car can be driven home tonight.  So, they play on that, the term we use is, We play you.
  • We work the “I’m your best friend” angle, telling you that we will give you our best offer up front, no need for a back and forth, we are going to help you.
  • It is very much like a police detective, becoming your best friend, so your suspicions are never raised.

Trade-in or run an ad?

“Can I get more if I sell instead of trading in?”

“That question is asked by just about everyone, but it is not the right question to be asking,” Lopez maintains, and we completely agree.

“Yes, you can almost certainly get more selling it yourself, but think about what that involves.  First, you’ve got the expense of running an ad in the newspaper – depending upon how fast it sells; this could easily cost you several hundred dollars.

“But more than the advertising costs think of safety issues. Do you really want people calling or dropping by at all hours of the day and night?  Do you want strangers driving your car?

“These are important considerations, without even mentioning the legal issues involved,” Lopez points out.

“Simply because you sell your car As-Is does not mean that you are home free in the event it breaks down or there is a safety issue.  Your buyer could easily argue to a judge that you just had to know about a whole host of problems and kept quiet.

“So, trade your car to the dealer and eliminate those headaches,” is the advice of a car salesman who proudly admits to having “Gone over to the other side, and it sure feels great!”

The staff at You and the Law are happy that he did. is well worth a look.

Dennis Beaver practices law in Bakersfield and enjoys hearing from his readers. Contact Dennis Beaver.