About a year ago this month, I bought a new car for the first time in my life, and it was an entirely crazy-making process.
Shopping for furniture or appliances or other consumer durables is pretty straightforward. You look up what items are for sale and what they cost, you decide what you’re interested in, and then you can pay. Sometimes the item you’re looking for isn’t in stock locally (this happened to me with a couch recently), so you’re told you’ll have to wait a few weeks for delivery.
With cars, though, everything is nuts. You need to go from dealer to dealer, each of whom has his own inventory. One guy only has blue paint. The other guy doesn’t have the blue paint, and also only has dark gray seats. And each has his own fake sticker prices and complicated cash-back offers. It’s no wonder 83 percent consumers say they would rather skip the haggling, and a third of people say doing taxes is less annoying than working with a car dealer.