No-haggle store a better test for Groupon new-car promo

Donna Harris covers automotive retailing for Automotive News

For the first time ever, a new-car dealer last week tried to use daily-deal site Groupon to promote new-vehicle sales. The promotion bombed, luring only four takers.

The offer: $199 for a voucher entitling customers to a $500 discount off a new vehicle. The vouchers were available from Tuesday through Thursday.

The promotion failed to attract the minimum 10 customers, so Groupon cancelled the deal.

Robert Milner, general sales manager for the trailblazing dealership, LaFontaine Buick-GMC-Cadillac, in Highland, Mich., said many Groupon members were suspicious about pricing.

Because new-vehicle prices are negotiable at most dealerships -- including LaFontaine -- customers figured the dealership would just adjust the vehicle price to offset the discount.

This leaves me wondering: Why didn't Groupon test the waters at a no-haggle dealership? With a no-dicker sticker, Groupon customers would know without a doubt they were really getting $500 off a new car.