When buying a car, everyone knows you don’t pay the asking price or sticker price. Right?
The process of buying a car in the United States is unusual in that it’s one of the very few times when we actually negotiate or “haggle” over prices. We don’t do it when buying a refrigerator at Sears, or a TV at BestBuy, or a watermelon at the supermarket. With cars, it’s more like haggling over an old lamp at a garage sale or, if we lived in the Middle East, getting a price on a donkey.
Although buyer-seller negotiating is common in many other countries, most people in the U.S. find it uncomfortable and awkward. Since we don’t do it very often, we’re not very skilled at it. Many people hate it.
Negotiating New-Car Prices
All new cars have standard manufacturer-suggested-retail-prices (MSRP) — retail prices — “sticker” prices that are exactly the same for the same car, same model, same equipment everywhere in the U.S.. Including the word “suggested” suggests that the prices are not necessarily the prices we have to pay. And dealers encourage us to expect less-than-sticker prices by their ads and TV commercials — “We beat anyone’s prices,” or “Less than invoice prices,” or “Lowest prices in town.”