Harrisburg Car Shopping: Faulkner Toyota

Day three of my 2008 Car Buying Adventure ™.  Today I went to my second Toyota and Honda dealerships to see if I could get any better deals.  Remember, by this point I’ve pretty much narrowed my choice down to the Honda Civic, Scion xD, or Honda Fit.  The Nissan Versa has been knocked out of the running due to its overall lackluster performance as well as the conduct of the rep at Faulkner Nissan.

Faulkner Toyota (across Paxton from the Harrisburg Mall) was my first stop.  My first impression was not good.  The showroom was cramped and disorganized, and just seemed dirty.  But since they’re rebuilding their dealership on-site, I tried not to think about it.  My sales rep, without asking any questions about what I wanted or what I was looking to pay, immediately showed me to a Toyota Matrix — a $21,000 baby-blue automatic.  After I told him that this was pretty much the exact opposite of what I wanted (hatchback aside), he actually seemed a bit miffed.

I had no sympathy.  The cardinal rule of sales is that you ALWAYS ask the customer what they want.  Not only does it help the sales rep frame the product in terms of the customer’s desires, but it also helps prevent wasting ten minutes explaining a car that the customer doesn’t want.

He disappeared for about ten minutes to find a 5-speed xD.  He brought it around and I took it out for an uneventful test drive.  When we got back, I said I was interested in hearing what they could give me for trade-in on my Element.  I pointed out that I had already spoken to several other dealerships and was gathering prices for a purchase this coming weekend.  His response was classic faux outrage:

“Well if you’re just going to go from dealer to dealer, we’ll just call Harrisburg Toyota and see what offer they made.”

I told him that if they wanted to do that, I could save him the phone call and walk out right now, because their offer was unacceptable.  “Well, okay…” he replied, and walked off to presumably “run it by the boss”.  When he returned 5-10 minutes later, he had a ridiculous offer of $6200.  “Are you kidding me?” I asked.  For the record, my car is worth about $9000 in trade, about $8500 – $9500 at auction, and about $13000 retail.  Those are figures from KBB, NADA, Edmunds, Manheim’s auction reports, and Autotrader.

“That’s what your car is worth,” he said.  “Not according to NADA, KBB, Edmunds, or your competitors,” I replied.  “You’re not just a few hundred off; you’re a few thousand off”.

He shrugged and said “Okay.”  I got up and walked out.  Whatever bonus points Faulkner had accrued over the years had vanished in the scope of 24 hours.  How Faulkner Honda can be such an extreme difference between Faulkner Toyota and Faulkner Nissan escapes me, but the chain no longer has a nice ring to it in my ears.  Still, Faulkner Honda *did* make a pretty good offer, so they weren’t out of the running.

This post is getting pretty long – Ciocca Honda will follow tomorrow.  At this point, the Scion has been knocked out of the game.  Maybe there are better Toyota / Scion dealers out there, but if I’ve had weak experiences at two out of two, that doesn’t bode well for the company.  Now it’s down to Honda Civic vs Honda Fit; Honda dealer vs Honda dealer.

3 thoughts on “Harrisburg Car Shopping: Faulkner Toyota”

  1. I used to sell Toyotas for a local dealershp and found it to be one of the worst jobs I ever had. People dont believe you when you speak the truth because of mis-information from places like KBB and Endmunds. No one ever reads the fine print on those sites explaining vehicle condition, and if they did they would not be able to evaluate their vehicle without emotion. If you would like inside knowledge about buying a car from local dealers feel free to email me.

  2. The problem here was that Faulkner Toyota missed the fair market value mark by a wide margin. Not only were they way off (by thousands, not hundreds) from KBB / Edmunds / NADA’s trade-in values for “good” condition cars, but they were a few thousand under the auction (wholesale) prices of Elements with substantially higher mileage than mine. I don’t expect private party value in trade, but I do expect better-than-auction value.

    Of course, dealerships don’t necessarily have to give good deals to their customers. And, as they’re finding out now, customers don’t necessarily have to buy cars.

  3. True, and if they were thousands off it sounds to me that the sales person was holding back money on your trade. The MGR. who appraised it most likely put more money into it but the sales person wanted to make sure he had money left to work with. I failed in car sales because I could not lie or hold back money in situations like yours. Most people who came looking at cars believed the biggest lie but could not understand one shred of truth, let alone the whole truth.

Comments are closed.