My Review Of Cherokee Hyundai:
I am very cynical when it comes to car shopping. I do my research in advance, and take nothing I hear at dealerships at face value.
In shopping for a car for my daughter, I did my research at Edmunds and Consumer Reports, which put the Hyundai Elantra GLS at the top of our list. I checked online to see which dealers near me were showing the most Elantras in stock. Cherokee Hyundai had the most by far, and was as close to me as any, so they were the obvious place to go for a test drive. After I explained what I wanted -- and what I didn't want -- our salesman, Sam Janjooa, let my daughter take a test drive. The test drive was in a fully loaded Elantra, and Sam made a nominal effort at upselling us, but not in an overly pushy way. Hey, that's his job. (And I see from the review immediately before mine that sam likes his co-workers.)
After the test drive, I explained that we had just started the process, and that I was not really ready to start negotiating yet. But I did ask him about the extra sticker showing dealer-added options. I had noticed that virtually every car had the same items -- window etching; some kind of extra body coating (a/k/a the usual crap); and a third item priced at $1000 and identified only by a set of 3 initials. When I asked Sam what that was, he waved his hand as if brushing the extra sticker away, and said that since I had told him I had looked at Edmunds, we would only be talking about "this one" -- indicating the main sticker. I nonetheless looked it up later. It was ADM (or something like that) and stood for "Additional Dealer Markup." Yep -- the dealer was jacking another grand into the price by pretending it had added something to car itself. Really cheesy. The other dealer-added options, even if grossly overpriced, at least added something to the value of the car. But in my opinion it borders on intentional misrepresentation to disguise part of the asking price for the car by hiding it in a list of items that most lay people would assume involved actual physical improvements. I almost crossed Cherokee off my list based on that alone. But I ultimately decided to include them when I started shopping price, mostly b/c I did not think it was fair to punish the salesman, who had treated us well.
Well, wouldn't you know it -- Cherokee came in with the best price. Not right away, of course, but with a reasonable amount of dickering. They did not try to throw in an advertising fee. And though the doc fee was way too high, I kept citing to Edmunds. Though they kept the doc fee the same, they reduced the price by the same amount that Edmunds deemed the doc fee excessive, and eventually came down to the a few bucks below the Edmunds FMV. (Other dealers were much slower to respond to my emails – some never responded at all. Those that did respond declined to match or beat Cherokee's price.)
I had been so put off by the ADM funny business that I insisted on doing all negotiating via email or text. Sorry, Sam, I know that was a pain in the neck, but I felt like I had to have a written record of all negotiations in order to protect myself from any possibility of a bait and switch -- not b/c of anything Sam did, but b/c of Cherokee's questionable pricing tactics w/ regard to the ADM (or whatever they called it).
When I picked the car up, Sam gave me the guided tour of the vehicle, and threw in a few little extras that I had said I was not willing to pay for -- cargo net, first aid kit, & IPod cord. (Also the nitrogen-filled tires, which the car, coming out of dealer stock, apparently already had. The jury seems to be out as to whether that adds any real value for most drivers.) A little lagniappe is always a smart move.
Anyhow, I was happy with Sam, and happy with the price I negotiated. And I have no problem with the concept that an informed shopper may wind up with a better deal than someone who comes in without having done their homework. But I think Cherokee Hyundai, and anyone else using the cheesy ADM tactic described above, is doing themselves and the industry a disservice.
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