I’ve made reference a few times to how disruptive the rise of the internet has been, both on a positive and negative level. If you’re an auto salesman, for example, the internet probably isn’t your favorite invention of all time, as the leverage has shifted from the dealer to the consumer. Granted, the consumer has to do some extra work, but it’s not painful and can save you significantly.

We recently bought a new car for Steph at a dealer in Acton, MA – about two miles from our house. Once we settled on the car she wanted (2007 Subaru Forrester), I hopped right online and did two things:

1) Found three additional dealers in the area and put out an email to all three, detailing exactly what car we wanted and I wrote to them, in no uncertain terms, that they have ONE shot on quoting me their best price via email. If they called me, haggled or didn’t give me a specific quote on the car in their email response back to me, they were out of the running. CitySide Subaru in Belmont, MA was eliminated right away when the guy wrote me back and detailed what his cost for the car was, but said to contact him when I get the lowest offer from someone else. I’m not gonna play that game and I told him straight out to forget it. Two others, (Patrick North Subaru in Wilmington & MetroWest Subaru in Natick) emailed me back and thankfully followed instructions with two competitive price quotes.

2) I logged onto Consumer Reports and used their New Car Buying Kit, which is a must-use tool for buying cars. They have prepared reports for every car available which details what the dealer has paid for each car, down to every option, holdbacks, consumer cash back offers, etc. They give you a bottom line price that the dealer paid for the car. Each car’s report, when printed, is about 14 pages of detail. Priceless.

So, armed with my Consumer Reports printout and printouts of the other offers from dealers, Steph and I went back to Village Subaru in Acton and I simply showed them the other offers and while I didn’t quote or read anything from the Consumer Reports stack, I made sure I put it on the desk so they could see I’d done the work. Less than 10 minutes later, we had an agreement and the following day we picked up the car. We ended up paying $50 more than the lowest quote emailed to me, but I was glad to pay it, seeing as through the dealer is two miles from us, we use them for service and they were nice people and saved us a trip to a dealer further away.

So, props to all of the dealers for revealing their costs to me right up front – they almost have to these days because of the internet. All the cost numbers were the same and actually did match up to what the Consumer Reports info had reported. Props to 3 of the 4 dealers for not screwing around with us, too. All in all, pretty painless!

If anyone can tell me (without doing a web search) who sings that song in the title of this post, huge props.