Car-shopping services may be answer to high-anxiety for some

Shopping is part of the fun of the new-car experience. Driving out of the dealership with a new (or new-to-you) vehicle also is enjoyable.

In between, however, comes the haggling and paperwork. Generally, that part isn’t as much fun.

But car-buying services offer a way around some or all of the not-much-fun parts, enabling a shopper to get the vehicle he/she wants with a lot more confidence and a lot less hassle.

buying a used car“There are a range of ways a car-buying service will operate, from merely advising on the best car model and price to organizing everything up to and including delivering your new car to your home,” said, a privately owned company that provides vehicle-related online content, services and links.

Following are three types of services identified by and a description of each:

Club car-buying services. While they don’t actually purchase cars, these services provide research to help shoppers decide which car is best for them and access to a network of dealers offering pre-negotiated club prices. Many organizations such as AAA and AARP, companies like USAA and GEICO, warehouse clubs including Costco, and credit unions offer services to their members free of charge.

Car brokers. These services are paid by the dealer and include finding your car, negotiating the purchase price on your behalf AND arranging for delivery of your car to your home or workplace.

Car concierges. These are professionals who work for a flat fee or a percentage of the savings they can negotiate on the price of your vehicle. They may offer advice on which car is best for you, negotiate the purchase price for you, review your new-car contract and arrange for delivery of your car.

To test the idea that these services provide real value, consumer finance expert Stacy Johnson of ran a test for MSN Money that compared the best price he could negotiate on a vehicle he wanted with the best prices available through a club buying service and a concierge service. With options, the vehicle he wanted priced out at just over $46,000.

Johnson found that the club service provided a price of almost $43,000, while he negotiated a $41,000 price with a dealer, and the car concierge – Authority Auto – quoted a price of $39,000.

“In my case, using a paid negotiator did save me two grand – and it also saved me a lot of time,” he said.

Not to mention most of the haggling and anxiety.


Where to look for used vehicles online before visiting a dealer (Part 1)

Are you shopping for your next used vehicle at the right website? (Part 2)

Where NOT to bother looking for private-seller used vehicles (Part 3)

Nothing special about used-vehicle website ‘aggregators’ (Part 4)

Most vehicle shoppers use dealership websites – should you? (Part 5)

Uncage the 400-pound gorilla in your search for a used car (Part 6)

Buying a used car through Craigslist classifieds – or maybe not (Part 7)