How NOT to Sell a Car to a Woman

I know I write about sexism and gender bias more than some of you want to read, but I have to tell you this story, because I still can’t believe it’s true. And yet, I know it is, because it happened to me earlier today.

As I mentioned before, I’ve been mulling over whether to trade in my car. I’ve been looking around both online and in person to feel out what my options are.

my cat
My Versa with the non-operational passenger side air bag that will cost me $3500 to repair. 

Today while looking online I saw a used Prius with low mileage available at a local dealer, so I drove over to the dealership to take a look.

I knew the experience wasn’t going to be pleasant when I was met on the lot by two grungy looking men, one of whom called me darlin’. And that was the high point of the experience.

The fella that wasn’t dumb enough to call me darlin’ is the one I talked with about the car. He had fresh mouthwash on his breath. To cover up a lunch of alcohol perhaps?

Anyway, we took the Prius for a run. I drove, of course. Mouthwash Man couldn’t tell me much of anything about the car and had no idea what the USB port was for. But he did like the dashboard-it’s designed to not crack.

Here’s the car I checked out; it’s a 2013 Prius C with less than 6,000 miles. 

After the test drive, I should have left it at that, but no, I went ahead into the office to see what kind of deal they’d be willing to make me. The place was dingy, filled with “men” decor (gas station signs, old, worn chairs, and liquor). But wait, it gets worse! Much worse!

While Mouthwash Man goes to talk to his boss about my offer, the other salesmen are talking about drinking liquor in the office (see! told ya!) and then one talks about a salesman that used to have sex with his female clients- onsite- in return for car service. I KID YOU NOT!!! That dumb son-of-a-bitch was laughing about that while I was sitting within earshot!

All I could think of was I don’t care how good a deal they offer me, I have GOT to get the hell out of here NOW!

About that time ole’ Mouthwash Man came back, and I politely said good-bye and left.

Who knew this kind of thing happens in 2016 at a GMC car dealership? I cringe and want to take a shower every time I think about that place.

I think I’ll do business with this salesman next time (photo from Flicker user victoriafee)


38 thoughts on “How NOT to Sell a Car to a Woman

  1. So true, so true. I have had same experience here in Finland, used car salesmen are international group. I saw the red eyed man putting the checking list secretly in his pocket. He tried to sell me a broken car.

    1. I have to say that I have also met some salesmen and women who are not at all like that. The people at the local Kia dealership are warm and polite. They’re salespeople and are doing the sales dance, but they aren’t obnoxious. I’ll probably end up doing business with them.

  2. ewwww… what testosterone-den :o( … if it starts with calling me darling then it mostly ends with a nuclear meltdown. I had a battle once with a car dealer who refused to sell me the car I liked… he always said that pink or red fits much better for me… wth, I wanted a car not a darned handbag… uh maaaan :o(

  3. What a bunch of creeps. I will never understand if you’re a sales person, no matter how retrograde you are, how you would do anything that would alienate any potential customer. Morons. That line about the dashboard not cracking made me laugh out loud.


  4. 1) Autel OBDII scanner ( – $250.00 The best money you’ll ever spend. You can use it on any car you own, and even if you don’t fix the problem yourself, you go into the shop or dealership, armed and ready.
    1) Can of Deoxid contact cleaner – $10.00
    1) Pair of knee pads – $10.00

    I can tell you exactly where the bad contacts are, but you still need the scanner to reset the ECM (car computer.)

    You can fix this yourself. It’s cheap and easy.

    Now, here’s a story.

    19 years ago, my wife and I went in to buy a Ford Escort. She had received a small inheritance, and we decided to spend it on a car. After the initial discussions and test drives, it came time to seal the deal. My wife opened up her purse, took out her checkbook, with her name on the checks, signed with her signature, and handed the check to our “mouthwash man.” He shook my hand and said, “Thank you, Mister G_____.

    As we drove out of the lot, my wife was spitting nails. “What’s wrong?,” I asked her. “You just bought a new car – you should be jumping for joy.” That’s when she told me what I hadn’t even noticed. Never occurred to me for a second. She had clearly bought the car. She had clearly paid for the car. But the sales guy thanked me. I learned something about systemic sexism on that day.

    But before you blame all men, understand it’s the way we’re raised. When you point it out to us, we see it and at least some of us will try and change our behavior.

    1. I don’t blame all of you. But I do find it incomprehensible that this is still happening to women. I mean, really? Talking about screwing (literally) customers in front of a potential customer? On what planet is that considered acceptable?

      In other news, I will add that I’ve not had this experience with every car salesman. In fact, the folks at the local Kia dealership have been professional and respectful. And that means a lot to me.

  5. OMD I don’t know where to start. The kind of place where you feel you need a shower when you leave. I remember being 14, reading Ms. magazine, thinking I was so lucky I wouldn’t have to deal with this type of behaviour. I can’t believe what you were subjected to, only, I can believe it. You’d think in sales at least they’d know better, but no.

    1. It bothers me that it’s so rampant, and especially in this part of the country.

      I was in a furniture store recently when I sofa caught my eye, so I sat on it. A man came up and said I should have my husband come check it out. WTF? But I was cool, and without missing a beat said I’d want the dog to test it because he’s the one that would use it the most.

  6. Good lord…from what rock did these cretins crawl out??? Yikes! I’d call GMC HQ customer service and share your experience. That’s just gross and I feel like I NEED to take a shower after merely reading about it!

  7. Oooooh! I hate that when some greaseball calls you Darlin’. No respect, and I’m glad you didn’t part with any money, and as for the sleazy conversation, I would have reported them to their head office. Very unprofessional .
    Car dealers don’t like me very much as I give them a hard time when buying a car, pushing for everything I can possibly get. My logic is they want your money and they’re making fat profits, so they can afford to be generous with little ol’ me. 🙂

    1. I’m the same way. It amazes me how a car salesman immediately thinks I’m stupid. I’ve learned in my dotage it’s better to let them think it, then shock the shit out of ’em when they finally realize I’m the one that’s been playing them the whole time.

      As for the darlin’ thing, there are two types of people who call ya darlin’ or honey or sugar. There are those who call everybody that and mean nothing degrading by it. And then there are those that are sexist pigs. Those salesmen were the latter.

  8. weird story… something similar happened to me – and I am of the other gender 😊 – in a Mercedes dealership wanting to buy a truck…. I guess I just wasn’t as polite as you’ve probably been… they’re not hungry enough anymore!

  9. Honest to God I thought all that stopped mid nineties… How awful for you I would go with Kitty too. Is there a head office for this dealership, I think they need reporting!

  10. Jen, a little lady like you shouldn’t have to put up with that kind of foolishness. Next time you wanna go car-shopping, hon, let me know. I’ll fly out there to provide the manly support you so desperately need. I’ll buy you lunch afterwards, too. 🙂

  11. Car salesmen are definitely sexist. A number of years ago I needed to buy a car for a job. My sister and brother-in-law drove me around Greenwich to dealerships. We walked into a Chevy dealer and the salesman right over to my brother-in-law and asked if he could help. I fumed and wasn’t letting in past. I walked over and said, “What makes you think that he is buying the car. I’m the one.” And, I walked out. Screw him. No way would I buy a car from him.

  12. Your experience didn’t just sound sexist. It seemed potentially menacing. Ugh. And I’m so sorry you had to go through that.

    In truth, I wouldn’t be real hopeful about the car, either.

    The boating community is very male. It’s rare to see a woman at the helm coming into a dock. All the boatyards and docks are almost exclusively male.

    Everyone calls my husband “captain” despite my having final say on the boat.

    And I can’t tell you how many times I’ve asked a yacht broker or engine tech a question just to have them turn to my husband to answer.

    But there are bright spots.

    Our surveyor had no problem with me taking the lead during our survey. He looked me in the eye and answered every question I had.

    And we had a lot of work done in a boatyard with an excellent marine technician who explained everything to me and did not tell me to ask my husband to see him when he was free.

    While I hate the idea of “rewarding” people for doing just what they’re supposed to do, I like the idea of giving other women information about where they’ll get good service. So I write reviews on boating sites and highlight if I got good or bad service.

    I’m not a big fan of Yelp reviews (Google reviews seem a little better). But perhaps you want to make a note of your experience for other women following in your footsteps.

  13. They are so disgusting!!!!! The Mouthwash Man and the other salesmen, whoever work for the shop!! Prius is quite a good car though…..what a shame……

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