Putting you in the Driver’s seat with the car yards
How Dealers Sell Cars
To fully appreciate the tricks used by dealers, we must understand how dealers sell cars.
Car dealers do not want to give quotes. If they give you a quote, they know you will take it to another dealer and get him to beat it. And the next dealer knows that he's in the same position. Their only hope of selling you a car is by getting you to commit to buying the car before you get the final price.
Loss Leader Advertising
Very common, and very time consuming for customers. A dealer will identify one or two cars of a particular model. These will be the "worst" cars (i.e. the build date is very old - the car has been sitting in the yard for a very long time. They are also likely to be the least popular colour and with no options.). The dealer will then run a large advertising campaign based on these cars, and the price is (for example) $200 below cost.
When the customers rush in from all around town, they are promptly "switch sold" to another car. All the salesman has to do is to point out why the car is undesirable, and then get the customer to pay more for a better car.
This practice has become even more common with the growth in internet advertising, and it seems this electronic media has emboldened unscrupulous dealers to take this a couple of steps further. We regularly see manual transmission cars advertised as automatics , 'phantom cars' that probably never existed in the first place, but certainly never exist by the time you walk through the gates of the dealership. "Sorry - that was a one-off and we haven't updated the website..." Remember: The goal here is to bring you into the dealership so they can sell you face-to-face.
How do we know they are phantom cars? Because our contacts in the dealership tell us. The phantom cars are there for the 'benefit' of regular buyers - not us.