I arrived at the dealership straight from work wearing office clothes: black business suit and heels. I walked around looking at the different models parked inside their office area while waiting for someone to approach me. Several salesmen were at their desks but no one bothered to get up and see if I needed help.
Just then my husband entered. He had come straight from work to meet me. He is a field technician for his company so he had on dirty jeans and a tee shirt. We started to walk toward a car I was interested in and three salesmen immediately came up and asked him if he needed help. They didn’t acknowledge me, but my husband indicated that I was buying the car and all further conversation should be deferred to me.
At this point I knew I would not be doing business with this dealership but I went through the motions anyway. I led him to the car I was interested in. My husband and I both asked the necessary questions and he politely answered them all. Then we went to his desk to run some numbers.
Here the salesman lapsed back into his previous manner of ignoring me and speaking only to my husband. During the price negotiations he looked at my husband and said, “Give me an idea of how much you’re looking to spend.” My husband replied, “I told you before, you need to talk to her. She’s the one buying the car not me.” I smirked at the salesman who now looked annoyed.
In the end I purchased a new car from a rival dealership further down the highway where I was treated with more respect and made to feel comfortable throughout the entire car-buying experience.
What the first dealership failed to understand is that women are considered primary decision makers and have a direct influence when it comes to large purchases.
According to Women-Drivers.com, a website that connects women with certified women-drivers friendly dealerships, women make 54 percent of all car purchases in the U.S., and influence up to 80 percent of them.
Although women drivers or car buyers may never get a fair shake, there are steps that we can take to warrant equal treatment. For starters, you can seek out a female salesperson to do business with, thus ensuring you a comfortable experience.
Prepare ahead of time by doing research online. This not only educates you on the type of car you want to buy but it also gives you the upper hand in case you run into a salesman who treats you as a clueless female. You might also consider bringing along your husband, brother or father as back up.
Lastly, if you are being mistreated or misunderstood, just leave. There are plenty of dealerships that will be happy to do business with you.