Penny Laing is convinced that the Internet is the only way to go car shopping.
The reason is Gary Klein.
'We felt he was doing a service for us, not a high-pressure sell,' says Laing, who recently bought a Jeep Cherokee from Klein, the Internet sales manager at Liberty AutoCity in Libertyville, Ill., a Chicago suburb. 'It's because of the way he responded that we chose to go to Liberty.'
Laing, 46, a school psychologist in Highland Park, Ill., and her husband, Bob, 50, a graphic artist and rural mail-route carrier, began their quest for a new sport-utility by using the Internet to research vehicle models and prices.
One of the online buying services (Laing doesn't remember which one) referred them to several dealers.
'We got three responses (from dealers), but only Gary was within a day,' Laing said. 'He responded so openly about pricing and what's on the lot.'
Laing called Liberty's Web site one of the best she has seen for cars. Klein posts pictures and detailed information about all makes and models Liberty sells: Jeep, Buick, Mazda, Hyundai, Subaru and Suzuki. Inventory, invoice and sticker prices and specific financing options, including monthly payments, are a click away.
Laing 'absolutely recommends' the Internet for no-pressure vehicle research. But she doesn't think she'd ever buy direct online.
'It's important to have a relationship with a dealer,' she says, and not just to change the oil or rotate the tires. 'It's nice to know Gary will be there if we have a question.'