A friend needed help shopping for her first car at age 37 (lived in Manhattan & Boston most of her life), so I helped her out. We did a bunch of research & test drives before settling on a 2020 Kia Soul S as having everything she needed (blind spot detection, tall driving position, small size, easy to get in/out with a bad back).

A dealer local to me had two listed for the low price of $16,616 (MSRP is $21k, typically listings are for $18.5-$19K), so we went, she test drove it just to be sure, and decided to go for it. Salesman got his paperwork out and wrote that price on it, and we tried to haggle, because it never hurts to try and get a little bit more off. Salesman goes to get manager approval for the new price, and comes back and says the price is out of date and the rebate on it expired the 3rd (this was the 4th). I point him to his own website that says the rebate goes til 3/20, so he leaves to talk to his manger again.

Manager comes over this time and claims the amount listed as the “dealer discount” on their website is wrong, and that the price for the car is $18,116, but because of their error he’ll knock $500 off and do it for $17,616. I point out that MA law says a retail establishment has to sell an item at the price advertised. He dismissively tells me I can sue the company that manages their website. So despite the new price being ~$1000 under area pricing, with the attitude and general sketchiness, we get up and walk out with a “We’re done here.”


Today we hit up a different dealer that had 5 Soul S’s (how to you pluralize that?) in stock, all for $18,728. Didn’t even bother with a test drive as she has been behind the wheel of 3 of them in the last week, and instead tell them of the BS from the last place, and that if they can match their $17,616 offer, we’ll take whichever S they most want off the books.

Salesman leaves and is gone for a long while. Comes back and says he can’t hit the $17,616 on a new S. Then he shows us a 2020 Soul S with 8K miles, listing for $18,793(yes, more than the after-rebate new price), and says they can do that for $16,666. Which is $50 over the other place’s BS price. He tells me it was a lease turn-in because the owner passed away (not in the car, he assures us). I go over it with a fine toothed comb looking for accident damage, and give it one hell of a thorough test drive, where it behaves exactly like the brand new ones did.

Illustration for article titled Adventures in car buying

So the deal was signed, and this week she picks up her new Soul. Red wasn’t her first choice, but she says she’s willing to take it for the $2K discount. All thanks to the first dealership being not only shady, but massive jerks about it too.


Next weekend, we go shopping for a (used) replacement for her husband’s ‘09 Forester, which again fouled the #3 spark plug due to oil burning and started throwing misfire codes while she and I were doing the car shopping.

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