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So you think you know car dealers? Well, maybe you do, but This American Life spent a month at Town and Country Jeep Chrysler Dodge Ram in Long Island to give us a behind-the-scenes look (or listen, since it's a radio program) at what it's like to be a car dealer.

Yes, there's a lot of swearing in thick New York accents, frustration, confusion, and generally it's a madhouse at the dealership. But that's understandable when the sales staff has to sell 129 vehicles in October in order to get an $85,000 manufacturer bonus - with several other Jeep dealerships within a 10-mile radius.

The episode, 129 Cars, is worth a listen, but make sure you have 71 minutes to spare if you want to get through it in one sitting. Head here for the unedited version or here for the bleeped version (which is 58 minutes long).


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 16 Comments
      The Wasp
      • 1 Year Ago
      Sounds like a reality show waiting to happen.
      85-300ZX
      • 1 Year Ago
      That's why you buy new cars on the last day of the month. Dealer will stretch a little farther in your favor to make the sale and meet their mfgr bonus quota.
        kqr
        • 1 Year Ago
        @85-300ZX
        There are reasons why that may not true, but assuming it is, one of the potential downsides to that strategy could be the inventory will have been picked over by those who bought earlier, meaning you may not be able to get what you want. A dealer will generally give the best deal on and be more motivated to sell vehicles they have in inventory versus those that have to be ordered or obtained from another dealer somewhere and shipped in. I worked at a big new car dealer for a couple of years in my 20s while I was waiting for my real chosen career to open up (it did), and it was quite a valuable education that I have put to use many times as a customer since then.
        turbomonkey2k
        • 1 Year Ago
        @85-300ZX
        Unless they already made the number but how do you know what the number is and whether they made it for that particular month?
          85-300ZX
          • 1 Year Ago
          @turbomonkey2k
          My understanding is that it's tiered. Sell X amount reach tier 1 bonus, sell Y amount reach tier 2. Etc. Least that's how it was at a ford dealership my brother worked at. May not be the case at all dealers.
          Poe
          • 1 Year Ago
          @turbomonkey2k
          Interesting point. So let's say you're trying to buy a car on the last day of the month and the dealership HAS already met its quota for the month. Would they still be more inclined to give you a good deal because they know they're getting their factory incentive for the month and the dealership is safely in the black for the month - or would they say "screw you... this is the price... take it or leave it" because they know that they don't "need" your sale today - but WILL need it tomorrow when the next month starts and they'll be working toward that month's quota?
      Wetstuff
      • 1 Year Ago
      That was a Great program. Unlike those guys in OH who are afraid of Tesla, you had to feel sorry for doze guys. 'Poor guy who wife kept calling.. Gret listen. TAL is on of the best things Radio or TV. Wasp... it did happen. And, trust me, you did not miss a thing not 'seeing' it. Jim
        kqr
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Wetstuff
        They're not "afraid" of Tesla, they're concerned about the effect on their businesses and livelihood if the precedent is set. Very few consumer items are sold directly by the manufacturer. When was the last time you bought your clothes, food, or other consumer goods directly from the company that made them? The middleman retailers put a LOT of people to work, and direct sales do not mean lower prices for the consumer, only that the entire profit margin goes to the manufacturer.
          Dump
          • 1 Year Ago
          @kqr
          ...so the OH dealers ARE "afraid" if their concern IS the livelihood of their dealership business...I'm sure the OH dealers want the opportunity to be able to offer Tesla vehicles to consumers as well, especially if it seems the market for EVs has solid growth in the region. But ultimately, Tesla should have the right to be able to sell their own product themselves. If I developed a widget and wanted to sell it, I should have the right to setup a shop to sell MY product to consumers myself. I shouldn't be forced to setup deals with Walmart or Amazon because they already have stores & sites that already sells stuff. I think if EV demand exploded...Ohio would be a prime state to build new EVs to meet consumer demand for this side of the country. Something, I'm sure the Ohio Legislature is considering as well.
      bobbylightbryant
      • 1 Year Ago
      Doge! Much funny
      turbomonkey2k
      • 1 Year Ago
      This American Timesuck
      Tom
      • 1 Year Ago
      Its "on Long Island"
      ima_demorat
      • 1 Year Ago
      Lawn Guyland is part of Noo Yawk, so it's ON Long Island, not IN. AutObLog... what a buncha friggen putzes... I'm tellin ya /s
        Seal Rchin
        • 1 Year Ago
        @ima_demorat
        Most people in NYC do not talk that way. It is almost like Ebonic, it is the way uneducated people talk. It is not a regional accent, like say Southern accent. You can have two people who are life long NYers living next to each other and one saying "TALK" and another saying "TAWK" the difference is education level.
          The Wasp
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Seal Rchin
          A huge amount of people in NYC are not from NYC...so that's why there's such a variety of accents there.
      kingrat001
      • 1 Year Ago
      The stress level at dealerships is very high. A friend of mine sold cars for six months and quit to do something much less stressful, he was a cop for 20+ years and said the stress was about 1/10th the stress at the dealership, which seemed low key, compared to several I've dealt with.
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