Guest Rant by John Thomas
Dear Click and Clack,
To me, the biggest conundrum in the car business is why car salesmen do their very best to aggravate, insult, and generally cheat the people they are trying to sell cars to. It seems entirely backwards that a salesman would do his very best to alienate a customer who is getting ready to spend big bucks on his product. After all, when you buy, say, a toaster, this doesn't occur. The toaster company wants you to buy many of their toasters. They want you to like them and to be happy. I have come up with a working theory for this lamebrained approach, which has made car salesmen more scorned and ridiculed than even lawyers: a) The car companies WANT them to alienate the customers; and 2) car salesmen hang out with other car salesmen.
Compare a toaster to a car. The toaster company does not generally list the power cord, the slide that you push down to make toast, or the bread slots as noteworthy equipment. You rightly expect that a toaster will have such items, since they are required for a thing to actually BE a toaster and not a doorstop or a bookend. But an automobile manufacturer lists everything on the sticker--the engine, the brakes, the hood, the paint, the exhaust pipe, etc., as if it were unusual to include those things on that particular car. And if there is anything on the vehicle that is not absolutely required to make it operational--such as the fourth tire or the passenger seat--it becomes an option and costs extra. So the sticker price is not in any way reflective of the cost of the car, but is an apparently random number designed to irritate the customer right off the bat. I'm not sure about the reason behind this (I do not have any education in marketing--something for which I am devoutly thankful), but it is obvious that this is all a deliberate ploy by the manufacturers to get you to resent them--and especially the salemen--from the get-go.
The second point hardly bears discussion. If you had to spend day in and day out in the company of car salesmen, would there be any of the milk of human kindness left in your system? Of course not. You would be better off being raised by wolves than being in such a desperate situation. It becomes a sinister feedback loop--one salesman feeding off the next, and so on until they become a ravening pack of feral, patent-leather-shoe-wearing, uh, weasels (for lack of a more appropriate word).
I don't know if this completely explains this confusing situation and, if it does explain it, what can be done to save us from it. I'll leave that to more agile minds. Perhaps something involving mace or baseball bats...