I visited Bergstrom as they were the most conveniently located Honda dealer for me. Right off the bat, the salesman that I was directed to took a lengthy phone call while I had to wait. I asked another employee for a brochure to look over while I waited, but I was told they didn't have brochures for the vehicles because Honda doesn't supply them because everyone just goes online anyway (I later found this was a lie as the dealer we ultimately purchased from had a wall of brochures). After the salesman returned, he apologized for how unprofessional it was for him to take that phone call (at least he realized it). Not knowing the reason or urgency of the call, I was forgiving and just wanted to move forward with business. The salesman seemed to just want to make small talk, and I actually had to ask to see a vehicle. Once inside a vehicle, I had questions regarding what was included in each trim level (which I could not easily see in a brochure since they did not have them). It became very evident rather quickly that the salesman did not know much about the vehicles. The final straw where I just stopped asking questions was when he touted the great gas mileage as 33 mpg. For anyone who has seen any kind of advertisement for a Honda Odyssey, you would know that Honda is proud of its best-in-class 28 mpg highway rating and prominently lets people know (I guess except for this salesman).
As side note, I had not even looked at a Honda Odyssey until my wife texted me on a Friday morning about her co-worker's new Odyssey. The visit outlined above was a couple of hours later on my lunch hour. I was really looking for information and guidance from a knowledgeable salesman to help me make my decision, but it became clear that I knew as much or more than the salesman about the vehicle from my 10 to 15 minutes of online research.
The other thing I did quickly online was go to Costco's auto program site and print off information stating that I was a Costco member and entitled to great haggle-free pricing. This was great as Bergstrom happened to be one of Costco's partner dealerships, and I happened to be going to Bergstrom anyway. I provided this Costco information to see what the pricing was and was handed off to another salesman to talk pricing. I was provided with quotes telling me how great of a price this was and that the dealer was practically losing money. To be honest, the pricing was pretty decent, but on the flip side, they offered me $1,000 less for my tade-in than the Bergstrom Chrysler dealership did (I had been looking at the new Pacifica because I thought it might be more budget-friendly, to which the Honda dealer admitted that the Odyssey is the most expensive mini-van on the market). I was irked by the fact that two different Bergstrom locations offered me $1,000 difference in trade-in value when ultimately Bergstrom would have the exact same used vehicle in its inventory. This was irritating, but I was just starting to shop around and wasn't in full haggling mode yet, and I had to get back to work as my lunch hour was almost over.
That Friday evening, I spoke with my wife, and we decided that we would buy a Honda Odyssey that weekend if we could get a good deal. I turned to the internet once again and discovered there was better pricing than the no-haggle Costco/Bergstrom price. I sent out numerous inquiries on Friday night, and by Saturday morning, my phone was ringing from all the dealers eager to do business. I had some of that pricing in hand as we headed back to Bergstrom for my wife to test drive the vehicle. The salesmen were friendly and had an Odyssey ready for us to test drive. Everything was great until we had to talk price. I shared the best price information that I had from the other dealers, and the salesman had to to his manager to see what they could do. He came back with a bottom-line cost to me (sale price - trade-in value + taxes,fees,etc.) that was higher than the day before. I looked it over and saw that he even increased my trade-in value by $500. I said if he could give me that increased trade-in value with the Costco pricing, we'd be getting close. He talked with his manager and said they couldn't. The Costco price with the lower trade-in value was the best deal they could offer. I asked one last time for their absolute best price (including trade-in) as I was not playing games and would not be waiting around for them to come back a week later with a price reduction or any of the other traditional sales tactics. They said that they offered me their best price and could not go lower. They then went on to tell me that the other dealer was lying to me and could not possibly offer me the price I was given. Bergstrom told me to go to that dealer and buy from them if that was a truly valid price. Bergstrom said they hope that dealer keeps selling vehicles with those kinds of deals because that other dealer will be selling at a loss and run themselves right out of business, meaning less competition and more business for Bergstrom in the long run.
In the end, I took Bergstrom's advice and bought our new Odyssey from the other dealer that afternoon. That dealer was Zimbrick in Madison. It cost me $20 in gas and a few hours of my time to drive to Madison, but I purchased a new vehicle for about $1,100 less than Bergstrom's best offer, which was well worth the effort. On another side note, Bergstrom was even talking up how their price was more because they had mud guards installed on it, but they were giving me a deal on them at $159 versus MSRP of around $200. The funny thing is that the vehicle we got from Zimbrick not only had mud guards but also had wheel locks. Honestly, I didn't really care about either. However, it was amusing to see Bergstrom's nickel-and-diming nature versus Zimbrick, who casually noted that our vehicle had those accessories already installed, but they would not charge us for them because we didn't ask for them.
I urge anyone looking for a new vehicle to shop around online and talk to a few other dealers. For those willing to make the drive, I highly recommend Zimbrick in Madison. They offered a great deal, were friendly and very professional, and genuinely seemed to want my business. To be blunt, it was the exact opposite experience than what I had at Bergstrom.