I’m Shopping For A Car — Help!

Recently, I’ve been in the market for a car, and shopping for one has ranked right up there with the time I had a root canal, my last pap smear, and that night I spent projectile vomiting. Because I’m doing it alone, other than with the help of a car-savvy guy who lives in another state, I get to experience firsthand how truly lame it is to be a woman looking for a car by herself.

Dear Car Salesmen: Why do you insist upon treating women like idiots?

I’m looking for a late-model used car. First, I did my research. Then, I hit up about a dozen dealerships. I’ve asked questions, gone on test-drives, and come to know the exciting world of auto loan financing. No, I am not a car expert, but I’m not completely ignorant of what’s going on here either. Still, on practically every single lot, the salesman have a) acted like I didn’t exist when I appeared, b) barely bothered to put any effort into selling me the car, and c) seemed happy to see me go when I said I’d think about it.

Sure, I can’t take a lot of this stuff personally. Car salesmen are not exactly known for their professionalism, their candor, their morality. But I got the distinct impression that when the salesman saw that I was a woman alone, they made some immediate assumptions: that I had no understanding of the car buying process (not true), that I would believe whatever I was told (uh, show me the Carfax, dude), and that because I wasn’t with a man, I wasn’t going to buy. Well, none of that was the case.

After a week of being ignored, dismissed, and treated like I was broke and a joke, I’ve taken a break from the whole process. Last weekend, I found this interesting buying chart on She-conomy, a site where one woman attempts to teach men how to market to women. When it comes to making purchases men and women are purchasing together, it’s women who “lead” four out of the five stages of buying:

Five stages of the purchasing process

  1. Kick-off – women
  2. Research – women
  3. Purchase – men
  4. Ownership – women
  5. Word-of-mouth – women

So, I get what the car guy is thinking. Oh, she’s alone. She’s not ready to buy. When she’s ready to buy, she’ll bring a man. Well, that ain’t so. Every salesman who ignored me, belittled me, or was condescending to me was missing the opportunity to make a sale, but he didn’t know it.

Honestly, I’m so frustrated by the whole process, I want to throw my hands up and give up. Have any of you ladies gone car shopping on your own? What was your experience like? Have any advice? Any female car salesmen who are readers? Help a sister out here.