A Daily Telegraph investigation has found it's women who get the better discounts when purchasing a vehicle.
Reporters Henry Budd and Caroline Marcus went to the same five Sydney dealerships within two days of each other, posing as buyers and asking for the same popular small cars at each location.
In all five instances, Marcus scored a better deal -- saving $1700 more than her colleague at one dealership. She was also told about a special promotion in one case and offered a cheaper demo model in another, while Budd was told of neither.
The findings mirror those of a study done by UK magazine Auto Express, which found women were offered better deals at six of 10 dealerships. The study also found women often had to put up with sleaze and patronising behaviour -- something Marcus said she was not subjected to at any of the dealerships.
When contacted about our undercover test, Sydney City Subaru manager Paul Hearne said car dealers took women more seriously as they tended to be the decision-makers when it came to big purchases.
At Subaru, Marcus was offered a new Impreza 2.0i for $26,000. Budd, however, was told $27,700 was the best price he could get. “It may sound like a funny comment to make, but generally with cars, it's actually the woman who buys and the woman who is generally the decision-maker,” Mr Hearne said. “Probably the reason why (women get better discounts) is nothing like ‘women look better and we'd rather sell to a pretty young lady rather than an old fella like myself’.
“If a man comes to a dealership alone, you'd hardly ever see him buy a car. Whereas women will both buy a car on their own and also, if they're in a couple, will make the final decision on things like shape, colour, gearbox, engine size and price.
“I could probably put my mortgage on the fact that the guy on his own will have to go away and get his family to come in and his wife to come in to help him make a decision. Now, if that was a woman on her own, I'd be more confident about selling her a car.” Mr Hearne advised customers to sit down and show a commitment to purchase in order to get the best price and walk away if they didn't feel they were being looked after.
University of Sydney gender and cultural studies expert Dr Prudence Black said women were traditionally better negotiators than men. “A lot of men don't want to go into shops and browse and compare prices, they just want to make the purchase,” Dr Black said. “Women are much more conscious of budgeting and they expect to bargain.” Women were also more often than not the decision-makers when it came to buying a car, she said.
Car technology had become so complex that women were no longer disadvantaged by having a perceived lack of knowledge about mechanics, Dr Black said. “I think most men wouldn't know what's under the bonnet any more so I think that has evened out a lot,” she said.
The results of the investigation come as a new survey found that most women still don't trust car salesmen, despite concerted efforts by the industry to scrub up its image when dealing with the opposite sex. More than 90 per cent of women who said they felt intimidated blamed it on salesmen not taking them seriously. Three-quarters believed they were more prone to being ripped off if they went vehicle shopping without a male partner or friend.
The survey was commissioned by dutchauctionauto.com.au, a new Australian website founded by mother-of-four Shoshi Vorchheimer.