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Women at the Dealership

Poll Shows Little Improvement
On Biggest Gripes

Buying a car remains a hassle for women, according to a recent poll conducted by CarMax, retailer of used cars. In fact, the poll showed no improvement since the company's last consumer response in 2004. That's not a good thing, in case you were wondering. While women purchase over 50 percent of new and used vehicles, many still feel unaccounted for at dealerships.

CarMax recently surveyed more than 9,800 women on about what was most lacking in their car-buying experience. The responses are summarized below, compared with the responses to a similar survey conducted on in 2004. What was most lacking when you bought your last car?
What was most lacking when you bought your last car?
This Year's Response
Response in 2004
Quick, effortless transaction 21% 21%
Salesperson I liked and trusted 15% 16%
Fair trade-in value 14% 14%
Respect / Attention to my needs 14% 13%
Fair, reasonable finance rate 6% 7%
Understandable paperwork 4% 4%
Other factors 12% 11%

"Women continue to experience stress when buying a car as demands on their time and the need for convenience increases," said Donna Wassel, regional vice president for CarMax. "That's why it is important to find a car retailer that focuses on providing a transparent, customer-friendly, and easy car buying process."

Wassel offers the following 10 tips for women car shoppers:

1. Use the Internet to research vehicle types, makes, models, options, features, and prices. Visit websites such as to see actual prices and photos of every vehicle make and model.

2. Print out fact sheets or information about the vehicles you are interested in, so you can remind yourself about what you want when you step onto the lot.

3. Bring key paperwork items with you, including title and registration for your current vehicle, your driver's license, and insurance card.

4. If you have been pre-approved for a car loan, bring the approval letter with you.

5. Find a car retailer and salesperson you like and trust by asking friends and family for referrals.

6. Find a car retailer that is open and transparent in all aspects of the transaction.

7. Look for a retailer that offers low, no-haggle prices and a la carte pricing on each part of the car buying transaction - the vehicle price, the warranty, the trade-in, and the financing. Beware of extraneous, unexplained fees.

8. Get a fair offer on your trade-in separately from your car purchase. You can bring your car to CarMax for a free appraisal. Having the appraisal offer will help you understand the fair value of your "trade-in" before you start shopping.

9. Have confidence in your car shopping abilities. You have done your research and are prepared to make a smart decision.

10. Do not hesitate to ask lots of questions — as many as you need so that you understand exactly what you are paying for. Be prepared to walk away if you are unhappy with your experience.

"Being prepared to walk away can be tough to do, especially if you have spent a lot of time on one car lot," says Wassel. "But if you are not pleased with the car buying process, it's worth it — remember, you are the one who has to drive the car and make the payments, not the salesperson."

(Source: CarMax)