Female Car Shoppers Miss Fast, Fair Service


NEW YORK (MainStreet) -- You’d think that auto companies would remember that old adage about women controlling the purse strings in the typical U.S. family – and thus try to treat women with the utmost respect.

But a new survey says many women hate the auto-buying experience, especially in terms of getting respect from the sales staff and fair trade-in values. Here’s a peek at the study, along with some tips to making that car shopping experience more pleasant for women.

Richmond, Va.-based CarMax has looked into the issue of females and car buying, and the media messaging company has drawn some startling – even harsh – conclusions.

Conclusion number one is that buying a car is a real “hassle” for women, a conclusion that CarMax had already drawn from a similar study two years ago.

Coincidentally (or not), avoiding the hassle of buying a new vehicle is the central theme of CarMax’s marketing campaign, so it’s worth it to take the survey with an ever-so-slight grain of salt. But the feedback from female car shoppers is still well worth examining.

Researchers asked respondents what they missed the most in their most recent car purchase. Here’s how they responded to six survey questions:

Missed a quick, effortless transaction:
26% in 2011, 25% in 2009

Missed a fair trade-in value:
15% in 2011, 19% in 2009

Missed a trustworthy salesperson:
15% in 2011, 15% in 2009

Missed low, fair pricing:
15% in 2011, 13% in 2009

Missed a reasonable finance rate:
13% in 2011, 13% in 2009

Missed respect:
3% in 2011, 2% in 2009

The survey, which was conducted for CarMax by Ipsos Public Affairs, shows that more than 25% of women said they were “not getting an effortless and quick transaction.” Other issues that got buyers hot under the hood were lack of a fair trade-in value and a dearth of trustworthy salespeople.

CarMax advises taking the following preliminary steps before walking into a dealership:

  • Go online and check out the many car-buying websites, and focus especially on vehicle types, makes, models, options, features and prices. Also, make sure to obtain customer reviews and vehicle history repairs.
  • Print out the data on cars and trucks you like, then take them with you to the dealership. It’s hard for crafty salespeople to argue against facts in black-and-white.
  • Get pre-approved for a car loan, then bring that paperwork with you to the dealer.
  • If you want to sell your existing set of wheels, make sure to pocket your car paperwork and have it ready for review by the dealer. Bring your vehicle registration, your driver’s license and your car insurance.

There’s no rule that says buying a car should be akin to undergoing root canal. But for too many female consumers, that’s exactly what seems to be happening.

And it’s up to both consumers and auto companies to change that perception.

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