Buyers cringe at offline sale

RETAILING NOTEBOOK
Staff Reporter Donna Harris can be reached at or 540-668-7295.

Some things haven’t changed in the Internet era.

David and Connie Greer of Winchester, Va., didn’t like car shopping in 1997, the last time they were in the market.

Four years ago, all of their shopping was done offline, at dealerships. This time, they used the Internet for research, checking the value of their trade-in and finding a 2001 Monte Carlo through the GM BuyPower site.

But the sense of empowerment the Greers got from online research deflated when they contacted dealerships. The Greers expected respect, but they encountered high-pressure sales tactics. They expected an immediate response to e-mail, but some dealerships took a few days to respond, if at all.

At some dealerships, salespeople tried to steer the Greers away from the 0 percent financing that drove them to buy a car Oct. 8. Said David Greer:“The GM BuyPower site was great, but the salesmen are still running the same game on you when you get to the dealership.”

In other news:

  • AutoNation Inc., the nation’s largest dealership group, has expanded its relationship with former Miami Dolphins quarterback Dan Marino. Marino will serve as spokesman for the company’s stores in Tampa Bay and Orlando in addition to AutoNation’s 26 Maroone dealerships in south Florida.

  • Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. Inc. entered a partnership with Marketdrive Interactive, a Chicago software company, to upgrade its Toyota Owners site. The site, which will be relaunched in 2002, will allow visitors to link to their local dealership for sales and service, receive e-mail service reminders, track service history, receive e-mail on special offers and new models, receive recall information and access Toyota Financial Services.

  • Eighty-three percent of American adults surveyed by Opinion Research Corp. of Princeton, N.J., said the terrorist attacks have not changed their plans to purchase or lease a new or used vehicle. The survey was commissioned by Autobytel Inc.
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