Whatever Happened To Disintermediation?

from the the-human-touch dept

At the end of last year, I bought a new car using the internet. After doing a ton of research, I figured out what I wanted. I then I went to just about every one of those car buying services and filled out their forms. I got back a number of different offers with wildly varying prices. Since the best deal was pretty far away, I sent it to the dealers who were nearby, one of whom agreed to meet it, and voila, I had a car for a great price. I’ve recommended the same process to a number of other people. However, it seems it doesn’t work for everyone. Hal Plotkin’s latest column talks about how awful those car buying services are, based on the single datapoint of a bad experience that he and his wife had. He blames tech companies for being managed by engineers who don’t understand the human factors in how businesses work. He thinks that tech companies need to hire more “soft” skilled people who can understand people. That may or may not be true, but it seems like a stretch to say that car buying services are failures because they don’t understand people.

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Comments on “Whatever Happened To Disintermediation?”

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Chris (user link) says:

No Subject Given

I bought a new Minivan via carsdirect.com last year and it was a good experience. After shopping around the local dealers I was convinced none of them were really giving me a good deal, so I sent the specs to Carsdirect and they emailed within 24 hours with the minivan at a local dealer, at about $1000 less than I had been able to do on my own. One con call with the dealer to set a pick up time, and the minivan was mine. There was a paperwork screwup with the license plates, but I was never able to determine who was at fault, the dealer or carsdirect.

Mike (profile) says:

Re: Re: No Subject Given

My experience showed that it was absolutely worthwhile to use every car buying service you could find. I got very very different offers from many different car dealers, and the eventual price I got was much lower than I would have even tried to bargain for on my own. But, maybe (as you point out) that was simply due to the market for my car.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 No Subject Given

Before you start actually shopping, check out edmunds.com. They provide, among other things, a nice “True Market Value” estimate of the price of a particular car. It’s apparently based on actual sales data, and seems to be pretty acccurate. If you browse around there, the difference between TMV and MSRP fluctuates a lot depending on the car. When I bought my car (a 2002 Acura RSX), the listed TMV was only like $200 below MSRP, since it’s apparently pretty popular.

But in any case, I found edmunds.com to be a great resource for car shopping.

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