Monthly Payment Scam: How To Avoid It?
The sales person calls the attention to all the attributes of the new(er) car and all the negative aspects of the old(er) car while working the deal. All the usual factors are in play: mileage, age, options, equipment, plus the usual personal factors that are customer-specific. The idea is to get the customer so bind up in the idea of getting the new car, and how much it will improve their lives, the envy of others, family harmony, their peer reputation, etc., that they lose track of the numbers in the deal. This is called putting the customer in the ether.
The deeper the ether, the higher the gross profit on the deal. The objective at this stage is to get the customer firmly committed to the deal. That is why getting the customer to say “yes” is so important at this stage of the sales process. Part of that “yes” psychology is getting the customer to sign their name to a worksheet or other form of early commitment. Something, almost anything, has to be signed by the customer before the Turnover takes place.
This also means that some sort of payment (either down or monthly payment) amount must be agreed to before the Turnover. It often starts with the salesperson presenting three numbers written on the worksheet. It often looks something like this:
700/-0- down 600/1k down 500/5k down
The numbers don’t necessarily have anything to do with reality. What the salesperson often says when presenting the numbers is something like “with no down payment, your monthly payment is going to be about $700. If you put $1,000 down, I can get your payment down to $600. But if you really want to pay less each month, then I have to have $5,000 down on the financing.” The psychological motive is, obviously, to “scare up” as much down payment money as possible by putting a huge monthly payment right in the customer’s face.
Notice that the salesperson may have said nothing at all about how long the loan will be for. The customer doesn’t know if they are talking about a 3-year loan, a 4-year loan, or a 5-year loan. The absence of that information gives the F & I department more flexibility to determine what the interest rate and price will end up being, and just how much of the “soft add-on’s” they can pack into the deal’s numbers. Of course, this high monthly payment shock is where the customer often has their first stroke. Soft add-ons are things like credit life insurance, disability insurance, Gap insurance, rust-proofing, fabric protection, paint protection, etc. The idea is that the salesperson creates the room in the monthly payment for these things to be packed into the deal by the F & I department after the Turnover.
Of course, the salesperson often has no real intention of ending up with a $700 monthly payment, but they know that if they start out with a “500 – 400 – 300” set of numbers, there will be less chance of landing the customer on a higher number in the first place. By presenting the “700 – 600 – 500” numbers, the salesperson has already conditioned the customer to expect that the monthly payment is going to be much higher than they thought. Having accepted that as the reality of the situation (after all, the salesperson deals with these numbers every day so they must be right), the Dealer now has more room (and leverage) to actually end up with a higher number.
Once a payment number has been agreed to (usually with the customer initialing or signing the worksheet number that they go along with), the customer is ready for the Turnover.