Jamie LaReau
Jamie LaReau
Retail / F&I Reporter

OMG! FYI -- vehicle transactions head toward texting

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Several years ago the late Jack Teahen and I wrote a pair of opposing essays about our different car buying experiences.

I was hip, so I thought, because I negotiated a car purchase over the telephone after locating the car online.

Jack was old-school. He preferred to go in person to a dealership and "kick the tires."

Today we might both be considered square.

Swapalease.com executives say as many as 25 percent of all lease swaps involve text messaging to negotiate deals, up from about 5 percent in 2010. Swapalease.com is an automotive lease marketplace that facilitates lease transfers online.

It's unclear how many dealerships now negotiate vehicle purchases through text messaging.

Many dealerships already use e-mail to correspond with customers, even in negotiations. It's logical that text messaging would be the next widely used communication mode with consumers -- especially with the 20-something set.

According to a Nielson Mobile Consumer Report released in February, 82 percent of people are using their smartphones to browse the Web. And a J.D. Power & Associates study released last fall found that tablets and smartphones are being used by 1 in 5 new-vehicle buyers who use the Internet in the automotive shopping process.

But if texting an entire negotiation becomes the new normal, I will jump ship.

In my book, texting is the most impersonal and frustrating form of communication. I want to pick up the phone and have a live voice on the other end answering my questions before I seal the deal. And, even better, I'd like to do as Jack did and go in person to kick the tires.

Just call me -- sigh – old-school.

You can reach Jamie LaReau at jlareau@crain.com. -- Follow Jamie on Twitter

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