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As those of you in the RPadTV Google Hangout know, I’ve been shopping for a 2014 Nissan Leaf. Take away the last month and I haven’t driven regularly since college. With that in mind, looking for a car lease is a new experience for me…and that experience pretty much sucks.
My first stop was last friday at Nissan of Downtown LA. A nice salesman checked to see that I had the necessary information about the Nissan Leaf. As an Internet nerd, I was well informed and he seemed happy that he didn’t have to do any educating on the vehicle. Since the Nissan Leaf is all-electric, there are many things to be mindful of and there are some consumers that are unaware of the pros/cons of driving an electric vehicle. Since the salesman didn’t have to worry about any of that, he let me test drive the car. It pretty much handled like I expected — nice initial torque, mushy suspension, golf-cart like steering, and eerily quiet. When it came time to get prices, the salesman gave me an initial list and was honest about being able to lower the price if/when I was ready to sign. I liked that he was up front about the pricing flexibility, but I didn’t like that I couldn’t walk away with the final pricing.
Next, I was set to meet a salesman at Glendale Nissan. This was a referral from my friend Tim, a 2013 Nissan Leaf owner and former owner of a 2011 Nissan Leaf. Before I get to that dealership visit, Tim pointed me to this interesting discussion on how Nissan Leaf sales work. As a longtime Internet writer that has had several love/hate relationships with my ad-sales counterparts, I was surprised that this discussion made me feel sorry for Nissan salespeople. According to the OP, a large chunk of Nissan sales reps’ bonus money depends on the post-sale customer survey. The salesperson only gets a bonus if he or she receives 10s across the board. That seems ridiculous to me. As a longtime critic, I rarely give perfect scores to anything. That professional habit extends to other parts of my life (Yelp reviews, Amazon reviews, etc.). I can’t imagine giving perfect scores down the line to any car salesperson, but knowing how the system works makes me want to if the experience is the least bit positive.
Anyway, I went to Glendale Nissan earlier today to meet the salesman that worked with Tim. Unfortunately, he has been promoted, so I was handed to one of his minions. He was a nice enough fellow, but we played a game of me waiting at a table and him running elsewhere numerous times to check on pricing and inventory. In the end, he was aggressive to get me to sign then and there, but the pricing was a little higher than what I was given at Nissan of Downtown LA.
The whole flexible pricing thing bothers me. I hate that I’m going to go to four different Nissan dealerships in order to find the best price. The business model is old, broken, and stupid. Thanks to numerous Internet resources, I know what other people are paying to lease a Nissan Leaf. Negotiating with four different salespeople is a waste of time and gas. The last part is funny since I want to lease a Nissan Leaf so I don’t have to buy gas; I’m burning a lot of fuel by driving to different Nissan dealerships in a (borrowed) Mercedes C250. My quest for an eco-friendly car hasn’t been good for the environment. But getting back to pricing…
…I love Tesla’s model for selling cars. It has a showroom where you can see different options, colors, etc. It also has one set of prices that you’re either fine with or not. There’s no haggling, bargaining, or any of the annoying stuff that comes with a traditional car dealership. You don’t have to sit at a table while the salesman runs back and forth to his/her boss as you whittle down the price. With Tesla, you know what the prices for the car and options are straight up. If I could afford a Tesla Model S, I’d get one in a heartbeat, mostly because it’s an outstanding electric vehicle, but also to support a progressive and hassle-free business model for selling cars.
Hopefully my upcoming experiences at Universal City Nissan and Alhambra Nissan are better. Currently, the Universal City Nissan rep has only been providing some information and is anxious to get me at the dealership. The Alhambra Nissan rep is actually answering my questions via email, which (as an Internet nerd) is something that I really appreciate. While my excellent friend Lawrence lives in Alhambra, I don’t want to go all the way out there for a fruitless meeting with a sales rep. I know the exact Nissan Leaf I want, in the color I want and with the options I want. It sucks that the traditional model for car sales is making this shopping experience an unpleasant one. Hopefully in the future, more car sales will follow the hassle-free and blessedly straightforward buying experience that Tesla offers…or I can win the lottery on Wednesday and just buy a Tesla Model S outright.
Anyway, my Nissan Leaf journey will be continued…I hope.