You are on page 1of 42

THE PROCESS OF STEALING

Confessions of a Used Car Salesman a Road Lemons book by Sandon Loren Hatt

©2009 Sandon Loren Hatt Sandon@RoadLemons.com

PREFACE:
THE PROCESS OF STEALING
Read this book and never buy a lemon again. Don't be suckered into overpaying for a secondhand car. As a 15-year industry expert, I have an insider's knowledge on the devious methods of the used car business. I call it the Process of Stealing. You've never heard of a struggling used car salesman. Have you ever wondered why not?

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
HOW I ESCAPED THE PROCESS
I grew up in a big, bustling Irish Protestant family. Between the full workload of chores on our farm and the fun of having five hyperactive brothers and sisters, there was always something fun and interesting to do. As a kid I loved to play road hockey, tell scary stories, and do impressions of actors. But one of my favorite hobbies -- and the only one that ever made me money -- was catching wild pigeons at night in my neighbor’s barn. Then I would wake up early the next morning and take them down to the Sunday farm market. Business was booming one day and I held out for a price of $1.50 apiece. All the other kids were selling their pigeons for a dollar, so they sold out before me, and I was left with sixteen birds as the sun was going down. Soon some greasy, fast-talking stranger gave me a big handful of bills and coins, taking the birds away in his truck before I could count the money. It was only $16.50, I realized, scratching my head... wait a minute, that guy underpaid me! That left a very sour taste in my mouth. It was my first experience with getting ripped off. After college, an old friend wanted me to help him open a summer camp for poor inner-city kids. Going swimming with these kids, teaching them life skills and telling them hilarious stories -- now that was the greatest job I've ever had. But after two years, my old buddy was returning to school, and I didn't want to take over the financial and managing aspects of the camp. So we parted ways. I knew I had to find a “real job,” so I got into the used car business through a classified ad. Simple as that. The executives talked about six figures a year, and I don't mind telling you that sounded pretty good. Not to mention a free demo vehicle to drive, free gas, free lunches and dinners, a great vacation every year, cute women everywhere, and my manager buying me drinks at the bar nearly every night. But flash forward to 15 years later. I'm now a chain-smoker and 80 pounds heavier. I never exercise, drink way too much, eat late at night, and curse like Popeye. I own my own house with two cars in the garage, but I can't enjoy my good fortune. My first wife and my daughter took off long ago, and I'm working late so often that I hardly see my baby boy. My stress level is through the roof, and my blood pressure just keeps climbing.

Then came the luckiest thing that ever happened to me. Storming across the lot late at night after a skinny deal fell through; I slipped on a patch of oil from a leaky beater and broke my ankle. Sitting at home with a cast on, I had lots of time to talk with my wife and finally get to know my baby son. I was able to really look at my life and see what I was doing. It took me 15 years, but I finally realized I had become a victim of the Process of Stealing. I gave the office my notice of resignation, and headed off for a month of counseling. I'm a talkative guy, so I kept on making friends in the therapist's office -- and met quite a few people who were looking to buy used cars! I found myself helping them, letting them know about the insider tricks that I would have personally used to steal their money. For once I actually felt proud of what I was accomplishing with my life, because I was helping people, not hurting them. That knowledge did at least as much good as the counseling. After that month of deeply examining my life, I found a new job. Instead of ripping people off, I was enhancing their lives. I was making many new friends, enjoying a much healthier lifestyle and richer, fuller relationships!

TABLE OF CONTENTS
WHAT’S UNDER THE SALESMAN’S HOOD
................................................................ ............................................................... PREFACE: ............................................................................................... 2 THE PROCESS OF STEALING ...................................................................2 ................................................................ ............................................ ABOUT THE AUTHOR: ............................................................................ 3 HOW I ESCAPED THE PROCESS...............................................................3 ................................................................ ............................................................ GLOSSARY: ............................................................................................ 7 THE PARTS OF CAR TALK .........................................................................7 YOUR ....................................................... GET READY TO LOSE YOUR SHIRT: ....................................................... 10 SOMETIMES YOU JUST CAN'T WIN .......................................................10 ................................................................ ................................................... CAR SALESMAN: ................................................................................... 11 HEY CUSTOMER, YOU'RE SCREWED .....................................................11 PRE................................................................ ................................................ PRE-QUALIFYING: ................................................................................ 12 WHY SOME CUSTOMERS SMELL BETTER................................................12 OBJECTIONS:......................................................................... ................................................................ CLASSIC OBJECTIONS:......................................................................... 14 SO YOU'RE SCARED SHITLESS... ............................................................14 ROBBER: ................................................................ ..................................... HI, I'LL BE YOUR ROBBER: ..................................................................... 17 THE PROCESS OF STEALING BEGINS.....................................................17 ................................................................ ............................................... THE GUEST SHEET: ............................................................................... 19 QUALIFYING TO BE A VICTIM ...............................................................19 ................................................................ ..................................... MEETING THE MANGLER: ..................................................................... 21 TWO HEADS ARE MORE EVIL THAN ONE...............................................21 .............................................................. CRACK PIPES AND LOST KEYS: .............................................................. 23 GETTING READY BEHIND THE SCENES ..................................................23

PRESENTATION: ................................................................ ................................... PRODUCT PRESENTATION: ................................................................... 24 BULLSHIT BAFFLES BRAINS.....................................................................24 DRIVE:................................................................................ ................................................................ THE DEMO DRIVE: ................................................................................ 26 RIDING SHOTGUN, KEEPING CONTROL ..............................................26 ................................................................ ........................................ GETTING IT ON PAPER: ........................................................................ 28 INSIDE THE KISS OF DEATH...................................................................28 THE FOURSQUARE TRAP: ...................................................................... 29 TRAP:...................................................................... AP: ................................................................ OUR VERY FAVOURITE TRICK ................................................................29 ................................................................ ............................................. STUCK IN THE BOX: ............................................................................. 32 BEHIND CLOSED OFFICE DOORS.........................................................32 TIPS:................................................................ ....................................... USED CAR BUYING TIPS: ....................................................................... 34 YOUR PROCESS OF SELF-DEFENSE .......................................................34 ................................................................ ....................................... NEW CAR BUYING TIPS: ....................................................................... 36 NEWER TOYS, SAME PLAYGROUND......................................................36 DEALERSHIP: ................................................................ ....................................... CALLING A DEALERSHIP: ....................................................................... 37 YOU BETTER USE PROTECTION... .........................................................37 THIEF101:.............................................................................. ................................................................ THIEF-OLOGY 101: .............................................................................. 38 FUNNY AND SCARY FACTS ABOUT THE BUSINESS.................................38 EPILOGUE:........................................................................................... EPILOGUE:........................................................................................... 40 ................................................................ THANKS FOR ALL THE LOVE ..................................................................40 APPENDIX:............................................................................................ APPENDIX:............................................................................................ 41 ................................................................ THINGS CAR SALESMEN HATE...............................................................41 ................................................................ ......................................... THE OTHER APPENDIX: ......................................................................... 42 MY FAVOURITE BUMPER STICKERS ........................................................42

GLOSSARY:
THE PARTS OF CAR TALK
Terms used in this book, which you may hear used on a car dealership or lot.
• 101: Basic psychology, “Psychology 101.” • Big Hit: A large-scale deal.

When you come for a van, and Wolfgang sells you a matching RV, and a motorbike to travel between them. That's a Big Hit.
• Black Book: The most trusted catalogue for the value of secondhand cars. • Bobblehead: Someone who nods like a puppet.

Wolfgang does the bobblehead when you're talking, so you think you're in control. But when he dazzles you with words, it's your turn to be the bobblehead.
• Bolt: A customer who turns and walks away. • Box: The main business office. • Brain damage: The feeling you get from a bad deal with a problem

customer.
• Change of face: A manager jumping into the deal, trying to make even

more money.
• Check up from the neck up: How a salesman makes sure he's ready to go in

the morning.
• Cheese: An extra incentive to buy, like a free roof rack or a slightly used air

freshener. (See house mouse.) Cheese comes straight from the manager. It makes that extra year of payments easier to swallow.
• Clubbing baby seals: Making lots of quick, easy deals. • Customer's “up“ There's a new customer in the lot. up“: • Dialed: Having bad headspace or personal issues. • Doink: A great deal, with extreme profit for the dealership. • D.P.: President of the company, the Dealer Principal.

• Flat: 150 dollars. • G.M.: The General Manager. • G.R.: See gross. • Gross: All the money that's on the table. Usually a lot. • Headspace: Your mental state.

Wolfgang has good headspace: he's clear-minded and focused. Better watch out.
• Heat: A serious problem on the lot.

When Wolfgang needs to get a manager, or else needs to duck behind a car.
• House Mouse: The salesman offering a manager's incentives.

(See cheese.)
• Larry and Lila: A pair of suckers, soon to be a laydown. (See laydown.) • Laydown: An easy, lucrative sale to a dumb customer. • Lot lizard: The maintenance guy. He's around to do the worst grunt work. • Mangler: The manager. • Monkey: An inexperienced salesman.

Nearly every salesman falls into this category. Monkeys never have enough experience to deviate from the basic Process of Stealing.
• Mr. Grinch: The finance officer. Mr. • MSRP: Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price.

Every dealership prints their own stickers, and tries to keep their prices around 5% higher than the competition. Why would anyone bend over backwards to appear more expensive? So they can offer a bigger discount without losing any actual profits.
• Penciling: When an executive adds extra costs to the deal. • Roach: Bad credit. • Rope: No credit. • Skinny: A customer who doesn't have the money to pay.

• Spiff: Bonus cash for a salesman. • Stroker: Some loser with no actual intention to buy.

They just show up to stroke some hoods, kick some tires, and bug Wolfgang for free hot dogs.
• T.O.: See turnover. • Turnover: Putting the deal in the manager's hands. • Vet: See veteran. • Veteran: An experienced salesman. • VIN: Vehicle Identification Number.

The car's serial number that identifies it uniquely. You can find it on a sticker on the inside driver's door.
• We do chicken right: “We just made a lot of money.” • Wolfgang: That's me.

The car salesman. The thief. The walking, talking Process.

GET READY TO LOSE YOUR SHIRT:
SOMETIMES YOU JUST CAN'T WIN
The Process of Stealing is a perfectly tuned, completely proven method for highly skilled salesmen to walk off with your money in any used car deal. The Process is their tool to sell cars for as much as they can, irrespective of actual value, and give customers as little as possible for their trades. Once put into play, the Process can compel you to spend an extra $8000 or even more, and trick you into barely noticing the difference. Sure, your payment will be higher, and you'll spend up to an extra two years paying it off, but by the time you notice, you'll have driven off the lot. Sorry, too late for a refund by then. It's as powerful as it is straightforward: just a few basic steps, common procedures, and a dash of simple human psychology. Car salesmen never deviate from the Process of Stealing. They never have to. Every deal is handled the same way, with the maximum profit for the dealership, the management, and the sales personnel. I used the Process to buy a three-story home in an exclusive neighborhood. My sports car is nicer than any vehicle I've ever sold. I spent two months in tropical resorts every year, and I was still packing money into my savings account. You might as well let that salesman poke around your wallet with a vacuum cleaner. Without my insight on your side, you don't stand a chance. We have a saying in the car business: “The more money they make for you, the more they love you!” Customers ripped off by the Process tend to leave with huge grins on their faces, thinking they made the deal of a lifetime. Time after time, they hug us. We're used to customers coming by later to drop off expensive bottles of wine, flower arrangements, or tickets to sold-out baseball games! Car salesmen call the Process a win-win situation. That's one of our favorite jokes.

CAR SALESMAN:
HEY CUSTOMER, YOU'RE SCREWED
Nobody likes a car salesman. You wouldn't invite one to your barbecue -- you'd end up a thousand dollars poorer, with an extra package of smokies in your cooler. Nobody likes a car salesman, and nobody likes buying a car. It's no secret: when you step onto a car lot, the fear of God hits you. You sweat, you tremble. At least at a dentist's office, you know how much it will hurt. But at a car dealership, you might walk in knowing they want to screw you, but you always drive out without knowing how bad you got screwed, or how they did it. That knowledge always comes too late. I can help you pitch out your anxieties and regain control. This little book holds the insights of a lifetime in the car business, and that's one business that keeps its secrets to itself. You're about to learn my secret process, the one that let me steal everything I could from people like you. Once you understand the Process of Stealing, you will be relaxed and confident when you step onto a used car lot, ready to negotiate a fair deal. My little book can save you thousands of dollars. Nobody ever learned about the Process of Stealing in Sunday school, but knowledge is power, like my father always told me. I want to give you their knowledge and their power, so you can make it yours. If I knew all their tricks years ago, I could have saved thousands of dollars myself!

PRE-QUALIFYING:
WHY SOME CUSTOMERS SMELL BETTER
Manglers can't stand when a salesman sits back and puts his eyeballs on potential customers. But me, I don't want to waste my time with hood strokers and tire kickers. That's why I wait to make sure about what I'm getting into. I call this Pre-Qualifying. I'm hunting for the eager buyers, the ones I can baffle and dazzle with the Process. I'm looking out for some very specific signs and clues, and I sure know what I want to avoid. Let the monkeys go after the first breathing chunk of meat they see. That's a novice strategy, inspired by insecurity and the fear of looking lazy. So I just let the monkeys do what they do. Meanwhile, grizzled veterans like me are hanging back, looking for the right kind of easy mark. I'm talking about your average Larry and Lila Laydown. How do I spot them?
• They have to both look interested in buying. (Body language is key here.) • Their trade-in isn't too new. (If it's a fairly new car, they're more likely to know

how much it's worth.)
• They're not driving a Subaru, a Volvo, an Infinity, or any other wise choice.

(Dealing with bright customers is a great recipe for brain damage.)
• No bumper stickers or other signs that they're teachers, real estate agents,

doctors, or anything like that. (Like I said, crooked salesmen hate dealing with smart people.)
• Are they a same-sex couple? (For some reason, they can never make up

their minds.)
• If they're carrying a notepad or a binder, that means they're paying too

much attention. (Time for my fourth coffee break!)

• Do they make a beeline for the free hot dogs and popcorn? (That's a sure

way to identify a stroker. I call their tricks the Process of Mooching!)
• Are they looking for a certain salesman? (“He doesn't work here anymore,” I

always say. Even if he does. It puts Larry and Lila off their game.)
• Do they look like they have jobs? (This should go without saying.) • Are they carrying a newspaper ad? (The monkeys can keep those customers.

Veterans make up their own so-called 'deals.')
• Are the kids going berserk? (You want their undivided attention, and you

can't get that if Lila Junior's throwing a fit.)
• Is it a full moon? (I take those days off. They make customers go crazy.) • Are they driving a rental car? (Easy pickings, they can hardly refuse me. And

that goes double for a taxi cab.)

Only the veterans bother to Pre-Qualify, and sure, I've lost thousands of dollars with my snap judgments. But here's the good news: I take long lunches, I don't butt out my smokes halfway, I get to call buddies on my cell phone, and I spend hours at a time on hilarious websites. And somehow, month after month, my paycheck still grows. Dealing with customers is like being at a casino with slot machines that pay out every time. The Process of Stealing lets me turn customers into jackpots.

CLASSIC OBJECTIONS:
SO YOU'RE SCARED SHITLESS...
Nervous customers are always looking for breathing room. But we're not interested in letting buyers make their own decisions. After all, nobody comes to a car dealership to buy groceries! Give me 48 hours or less, and the old saying will come true: all customers are buyers. In my fifteen years selling cars, I've seen every objection a thousand times. I know exactly how to get around them all.
• This is the first dealership we've seen... • I'll come back before the sale's over... • I want to check out the deals at XYZ Motors down the road... • If the car's still here tomorrow, it's meant to be...

These are the easiest objections to deal with. I just need to earn your trust, and make you think you got lucky and picked the best dealership in town. (Yeah, right!)
• We're only window shopping today... • We need to do some more research... • I need to think about it... • I need to pray about it... • First we need to look around some more...

If you're “just looking,” I'll tell you I have a great method to help narrow your choices down. That's when I hustle you into the 'box', and have you fill out a guest sheet. (Never, ever agree to fill one out. Guest sheets give me power over your brain. Aside from a little psychology, they're the most powerful tool we have. In chapter 6 below, I explain exactly how they work.)
• I need to talk to my husband/wife first... • But the roast is in the oven... • I need to take the kids to soccer...

• I'll come back on a nicer day... • I can't take too long today... • We're from out of town...

If you have something to do, I'll slap a demo plate on the car and let you take off for the day. Makes me seem like the most generous guy around, and by the time you bring it back tomorrow, you'll be convinced it's the car for you.
• It seems too expensive...

“I know the price seems high,” I'll say. “Let me see what I can do for you.” If price is your only concern, then you're ready to sit down at the negotiating table. And that's where I'm in control.
• But look, there's a dent here, and a scratch here... • This car smells weird... • The antenna's bent...

“No problem,” I say. “I'll take care of that for you.” If I'm in a good mood, you might not even have to pay for the service!
• I'm waiting for my insurance claim... • I'm not sure about my credit... • I don't think you're offering me enough for my trade... • I can't drive standard... • I don't like that manager... • I need to know about your interest rates...

As a rule of thumb, I always do the bobblehead. “No problem, no problem. Let me take care of that for you.”
• We need to know the history of this car... • I'm wondering about a safety inspection...

• I don't know about this warranty... • I'm concerned about the return policy...

If I'm not sure about the answer, I won't even give you one. I'll just grin and tell you what a good question you've asked. I'll get you the answer later, but for now, you're still in my hands. I try to control as much of the deal as I can. But if a customer seems too eager to bolt, I'll do a T.O. to the manager. The quick change in circumstances keeps you from thinking straight, and gives us another chance to win your trust. And remember: the guest sheet is a powerful tool. That's how we shut down most of your objections.

HI, I'LL BE YOUR ROBBER:
THE PROCESS OF STEALING BEGINS

So I've passed my check-up from the neck up. My shoes are shining like Texas oil, my shirt is freshly pressed. Some lot lizard's grabbing me a hot cup from Starbucks, without that flammable powdered cream that dealerships have been using for 50 years! And for some reason, my ex-wife got me some Italian cologne for my birthday, so I even smell nice -- especially since I've brushed last night's tequila off my gums. We're through with our morning meeting. Process, process, here's the process. Just a daily ritual, confirming what we already know, painful drivel, especially with a hangover like this. Once my coffee wakes me up and I've spent half an hour grinning at You Tube videos in my office, I'll feel good enough to make a convincing first impression. You'll think I love my job and we're buddies on sight. By now we're all ready for you. Monkeys and veterans, every salesman on duty. You're the fresh blood, the big gross waiting to happen. You're somebody's paycheck, and as you pull onto the lot, we're all scrambling to get you.

“Hi. My name is Wolfgang.” And as the Process begins, I shake the woman's hand first. Firm, but not too firm, and a harder one for her husband. (It's Psychology 101. In a situation like this, the wife makes 80% of buying decisions.) At the same time, I'm handing her my business card, and asking for her name, keeping in control of the conversation. My trick is to build rapport early, and take control. “Sure got some healthy-looking kids here, Larry and Lila. Guess they play soccer?” Back to 101. Names are important. By constantly repeating their names, I make this pair of laydowns feel important and understood. I build the couple's trust with a two-minute chat about trivial stuff. The kids, the weather. If there's a dog in the car, I give that dog my especial attention, to make myself look caring. While I pretend to listen, I take a few steps toward the office. “Come inside for a moment with me.” If it's hot out, I offer them a cold drink, and otherwise a cup of coffee. No matter what the weather, I say it's more comfortable indoors. The Process continues! I'll mention the office Playstation III for the kids, or a water bowl for the dog. Nineteen times out of twenty, people follow me right in. As we're walking toward the Dragon's Lair, I casually mention how much we love going the extra mile for our customers. I tell them about free trips to Vegas, expensive bonus gifts -- I'm planting seeds, and by now Larry and Lila are under my control.

THE GUEST SHEET:
QUALIFYING TO BE A VICTIM
I hold the door open, and Larry and Lila step into the Dragon's Lair on their own. Walking briskly over to my desk, I pull out a chair for Lila. And I make sure to pour them some hot coffee, so they think I'm in their service. At this point I pump them for information. Where they live, what they do, and their future plans. I'm trying to find as much common ground as I can. (That's the core of the Process: I'm always building up their trust, even after I steal from their wallets.) Just as they start to feel comfortable, I pull out the guest sheet without much notice. Now I'm asking different questions. Standard or automatic? Two doors or four? I ask them what they liked about their old car, of course. Then I assure them we pay the most for trades. I even assure them that our dealership has a buyer already lined up. (That part's pretty much true. There's always another Larry and Lila.) Keep in mind, those aren't the important questions, for me. I couldn't care less about how many doors they want! I ask them if they rent or own, because it makes me look like a great listener, and if I know they own, I have a better sense of what they can afford. But the only important question goes like this: “What sort of budget do you folks have in mind?” They freeze like deer in the headlights, and I wait, trying hard to keep from smiling. Say they tell me $350 a month. I quickly say, “And as high as...” and wait again. Lila raises her limit to $400 a month, and I come back: “So you don't want to exceed...” You'd be surprised how many times this trick makes Lila bump her limit again. Now she continues to raise it, going to $450 from $350. Larry's kind of pissed, but who cares? He isn't making the buying decision. And

if I get them to pay the full $450, I've just put a few thousand extra dollars in my jeans. If you think I'd turn that down, go back to Chapter One! At this point I excuse myself for a moment. With a grin on my face, I cruise over to the mangler's desk and show him the guest sheet I've written up. This sheet is a great tool because people knuckle under to paperwork, even if they see the paperwork written in front of them! With the guest sheet in my hands, along with a little brainstorming and some “creative accounting,” I can control the deal and dictate how much money Larry and Lila give us. You've never been warned before, because the world's Wolfgang’s need guest sheets to work their magic. But don't do it. Filling out a guest sheet is like taking off your clothes so a doctor can look in your ear. Don't do it. Never fill one out.

MEETING THE MANGLER:
TWO HEADS ARE MORE EVIL THAN ONE

Now I'm talking with the mangler, trying to ignore his skanky tuna breath. We examine the newly-written guest sheet to decide the “right” car for Larry and Lila, and we figure out the absolute maximum we can take from them.

Here's everything I know at this point:
• Everything about their trade-in. Year, mileage, model, options, etc. • How much is left owing on their current vehicle, if any. • Where they live and what they do. • Whether they rent or own their house. • The monthly budget they wanted to spend. • And the absolute most they're able to pay.

The mangler then looks at the list value for their trade-in car. He crunches some numbers on the computer, and tells me what car to sell to Larry and Lila Laydown. Just like that. They don't have any opportunity to make their own choice. It might not even be a car they want, but we'll try to sell it to them. (I never let people wander around the lot and choose their own car. It just takes up too much of my time, and gives the customers too much control.) I've already done the math in my head, and I've picked out a backup car to sell them. So I put together a deal with the Laydown family paying a $6000 gross, and you can be sure 50% of that goes in my pocket. The mangler and I know

our inventory. We know what our customers want, but more importantly, we know what the customers are prepared to accept. When I return to my desk, I don't give Larry and Lila time for a question-andanswer session. “We've found the perfect car,” I tell them. “You'll love it! I'll be right back.” It's the perfect deal for me, not for them. But I don't tell them that part.

CRACK PIPES AND LOST KEYS:
GETTING READY BEHIND THE SCENES
Now I've got to pick up the pace. Larry and Lila's new car is somewhere on the lot, but first I have to go nuts looking for the key. Keys are in their proper places, and I can't find any spares, either! While the Laydowns sip their lukewarm coffee, scratch their pits and read old National Geographic magazines, I get the lot lizard to help me search. He eventually finds the keys in a veteran's desk! Typical. This scumbag salesman hid the keys because he knows we got this car for peanuts, and he wants to avoid someone else selling it. Now I need to root through acres of used cars, trying to find the one that's earmarked for Larry and Lila. I can't find it anywhere, and I desperately phone the mangler on my cell. He tells me the same scumbag veteran drove it home last night! Fists clenched, I sprint to the very back of the lot. Sure as shit, there it is. He never even took off the demo plate. The car runs all right, but it's full of junk. Before I bring the car up front, I swing it over to the lot lizard. Emptying out the garbage is his job. Subway wrappers, beer cans, condoms, crack pipes, rubber spiders and snot rags all go in the same black bag. As usual, the car doesn't have enough gas to get around the block, so I send my favorite lizard to fill up the tank and grab me a pack of smokes. So there I am, getting antsy for him to return, and probably Larry and Lila are getting antsy too. But this late in the game, they never bolt -- they're convinced they found the best dealership in the city. So while they're waiting, I call my girlfriend and see what's up for tonight. She sounds pretty brain-dead, so I tell her I'll see her later. After the bar, that is! When the lot lizard gets back, I double-check the car. For once, it actually looks fine. Time to show the Laydowns their new car -- as far as I'm concerned, it's already theirs.

PRODUCT PRESENTATION:
BULLSHIT BAFFLES BRAINS

I've taken the car up front. Now I rush to my desk and apologize to Larry and Lila for the delay, pretending it's the only time in history that a customer's had to wait for the dealership to get its act together. “You're gonna love it to bits,” I say. That's the Process of Stealing: Psychology 101, over and over. Once again, they follow me like ducklings as I open the car door. Time for me to rant about the “features and benefits” of the car. Those are always hot buttons. When I open up the driver's side for Lila, I keep up with my steady stream of patter. Safety, reliability, low-cost maintenance, the remaining lifetime on the warranty. When she looks convinced, I remember not to exclude Larry. Time for guy talk: horsepower, torque and all that. Blah blah blibbityblah. Then I rattle off a memorized list of standard industry features. You wouldn't believe how many catch-phrases I know! Double-side intrusion beams. Second generation airbags and side air curtains. Breakaway motor mounts. Fireresistant interior. Balance of factory warranty. Dextrin coolant. Platinum-tipped spark plugs. Blah blah. Power windows, power locks. Blibbity. Cruise control. Tilt wheel. Blah. CD player. Blah blah. Solar-tinted glass. Blah.

There's only one important thing here. I need to pretend I know what I'm talking about, which means I'm still building trust. As I run my mouth off, I'm trying to score maximum bobblehead points. The more they nod their heads, the more they're impressed, and the closer I get to a sale. But the truth is, 70% of car buyers know more about the car than the salesman does. So whenever they mention some new gadget, I just smile and agree how wonderful it is. And finally, I remind them once more that the car will knock their socks off, and fit their budget perfectly. It's simple: the more I suggest something, the more they'll think it's true.

THE DEMO DRIVE:
RIDING SHOTGUN, KEEPING CONTROL
From here, getting them into a test drive is easy. I ask every customer the same silly rhetorical question. “Lila, Larry, have you ever bought a pair of shoes without trying them on?” They always give me the same deer-in-the-headlights stare, and away we go. “Let's go for a drive!” I shout, jumping into the car.

Even though it's their test drive, I start off in the driver's seat, keeping control of the encounter. While maintaining my stream of small talk, I drive for under five minutes, then slow down on a quiet side street and tell Lila it's her turn. Then I ask her a simple, powerful question: “Can't you just imagine this car in your driveway?” The odds are good she's been psyching herself up to say yes.

I've planned our route carefully, minimizing busy intersections and ugly landmarks. If anything unexpected comes up along the way, like a snap or a creaking sound, I'm a bobblehead again. “No problem! Let me get that checked out right away.” I still haven't stopped babbling about how quietly the car runs and how smoothly it handles, and most of my attention is still on Lila, the one who's holding the credit card here. If she wants Larry to have a spin, that's fine -- I'll still be riding shotgun, navigating. When the demo's over and our happy family's returned home, I tell Lila to park in front of the showroom. That's the best parking spot in the house, and there's a reason we call it the “sold” spot. The moment I step out of the car, I'm already walking for the dealership door. “Come on in, folks, let's have a coffee, and we'll see what I can do for you.” Nine times out of ten, Lila and Larry will follow me into the showroom. That's because they've been on my leash ever since I said hello. That's just more simple psychology: people like to follow, so they don't have to think. This is a strange moment. Lila and Larry sure know what's coming next, whether or not they actually want it. Wolfgang calls it the “Kiss of Death.” I've created a very strong professional relationship, winning them over with chatter, factoids, my professional appearance, and so many hypnotic bobblehead movements. How can they say no? Besides, I'm just going to “see what I can do,” that's all (another of my favorite jokes).

GETTING IT ON PAPER:
INSIDE THE KISS OF DEATH
I sit the Laydown family back down at my desk. Have I told you about my desk? It's fussy-clean and organized, decorated with framed photos of a wife and kids, so customers think I'm a human being. If they ask about my family, I have some cockamamie sound-bites to give them. Truth is, I bought those frames at Wal-Mart with pictures already in them. Right now I'm thinking about the great tequila at the bar next door, but it's not quite time to celebrate. Larry and Lila have “fresh” coffee or something fizzy, and their distracting kids are riveted to the Playstation. First step is to call the company switchboard, and tell the bimbo to hold my calls. That always makes customers feel special and important. So what if I only get two calls a day? “Whose name will the car be registered in?” I already know the answer, of course, and ask Lila for the pertinent info that goes on the registration papers. I also jot down the relevant stats for their trade-in vehicle, since they actually believed my story about our dealership paying the most for trades. Once everything's down on the worksheet, I stare at the customers like a friendly snake. “So if the numbers are right and you're happy, can I earn your business today?” And what's Lila's response? She doesn't mention anything about the technicalities of the deal. She just asks if they can still get that cut-rate Vegas trip as a bonus. She's been dwelling on that for an hour! Of course I tell them it's not a problem. I ask for an “okay” on the papers (by “okay,” I mean a legally binding signature) and a credit card. “I'll get to work and find you the best numbers. And if you're not perfectly satisfied, walk away. Relax, we've got lots of coffee. This part only takes a moment.” The papers and I hustle to the mangler's desk, and I'm still thinking about that tequila...

THE FOURSQUARE TRAP:
OUR VERY FAVOURITE TRICK
Flash forward a half hour. The mangler and I have just “test driven” the trade. That means we hit up 7-11 for smokes and slurpees, and I snickered while he went through the glove box. We talked about the new receptionist's looks, and decided which bar to visit tonight. Now he's armed with every bit of info (remember, Larry and Lila gave me that info on the guest sheet) and the deal's terms are looking orderly and sharp on his computer screen. Everything will be presented to look professional and knowledgeable, so the Laydowns believe our choices are the right ones for them. They have already told me their desired payment, so they think I'll focus on making them “perfectly satisfied.” In the mangler's proposed deal, Larry and Lila's new car is listed at its full M.S.R.P. with an extra $5000 (or more) for the Box: insurance, fees, car protection and all that. Meanwhile, their trade-in vehicle is listed at its lowest wholesale Black Book value. Getting to the desired payment is easy: just throw two or three extra years into the traditional five-year term! Now that I've got my ducks in a row, it's time to show Larry and Lila all the favours I've done for them. They're fidgeting in their chairs, almost ready to leave. “Thanks for your patience, folks! I bet you're excited. You won't believe what I've come up with!” And then I flip the paperwork face-up. This classic foursquare diagram is an old-school trick. If you ever heard of brain-baffling bullshit, it's right here. The whole idea is to force the Laydowns into rejecting a bunch of potential terms. Psychology 101 says they'll take whatever's left.

MSRP
$27,995 - $500 discount $27,495

TRADE
$1500: Black Book $1700: Wholesalers $2000: ABC Motors

MONEY DOWN
$8000 $5000 $3000 $1000

PAYMENT
335$

$355 $375 $425
A typical foursquare diagram.

Guiding Larry and Lila through the foursquare, I first direct them to the upper left-hand square, showing them a discount on their new car. In the upper righthand square, I show them the trade-in's Black Book value, and what wholesalers will pay for it. Then I give them the good news: our dealership will pay more than anyone! That's right, we're still the heroes. And now I mention that Larry and Lila are only paying tax on the difference, so their trade's technically worth a few percent more! Now I point them at the bottom left-hand square. “The banks usually want some money down,” I say. Like most people, Lila pulls a number from the air. $1000, maybe $2000. It doesn't actually matter what she says, but it sure helps if she aims high. By now their eyes are focused on the bottom right-hand square, trying to make sense of the impenetrable numbers. I ask if they want to purchase or lease, and the Laydowns do what everyone does, choosing the lowest monthly payment and turning down the lease. Sure, that decision makes sense for a year or two - but wait until you're paying that “lowest monthly payment” for eight years of your life! Then Larry and Lila spend some quality time staring at each other. Turns out they weren't thinking straight, like most buyers. Eventually it comes out: they only have $500 to put down. And you better believe it, that's part of the Process too. “What if I could get you the same rate of payment with only $500 down?” I ask. “If we can make these numbers work, can I please earn your business?”

The Laydowns keep staring at each other. Confused as hell by their seeming good fortune, they can only say yes. As Lila scribbles her signature to okay the deal, I smoothly remind them about their free TV, their two-day trip to Vegas, or whatever cheap bonus I've thrown in to sweeten the deal. But if it means you pay an extra few thousand dollars, do you really think that “free” gift is worth it? I give them more of my famous handshakes and thank them for their business. Their names go up on the big board, and they're in line for the Box.

STUCK IN THE BOX:
BEHIND CLOSED OFFICE DOORS
“Lila, Larry, I'd like you to meet Mr. Grinch.” And as the Laydown family settles into the box, oxygen is slowly pumped from the room, to be replaced by warm ether gas and soothing background music. I'm already well away from there! I'm on the cel with my girlfriend, having another smoke and keeping my eyes on the lot, because another Larry and Lila Laydown will arrive any time now. Meanwhile, Mr. Grinch gives them the standard meet-and-greet. Smiles, jokes, handshakes all around -- sound familiar? He's already pulled up the so-called deal on his computer, and he knows everything about the people on the other side of the desk. Get this: Mr. Grinch has just preloaded the deal with all sorts of “extras.” That means an extra $2000 to $9000, hidden in the deal on his computer screen, which Larry and Lila never get a chance to see! After he picks apart their credit information and pumps them for extra personal info, he casually swings the monitor around to show Larry and Lila their payment. With his poker face stuck firmly on, the Grinch waits for their response. Remember, the Laydowns have been on the lot for about three hours now. They're tired, hungry, and lost in the ether. Larry looks at Lila, Lila looks at Larry. Finally Lila meekly says, “That payment's a bit higher than what we thought.” “By how much?” asks Mr. Grinch, and Lila squeaks that it's about $50 a month too high. Guess Lila's not the shrewdest bargainer. Larry's mad as a hornet because she just laid down all her cards at once, but it's too late to take back the offer. Mr. Grinch loves this part. To lower the payment, he stretches the term as long as it can possibly go -- we call it the “never-never plan.” He might even take out some of the extra hidden fees, or do a bit of both. Larry and Lila squirm and

fiddle in their hard chairs, but they have to agree to the “desired payment.” If you remember, that's the payment I set up with my magical guest sheet. Now Mr. Grinch sends the final contract off to the bank, gets an instant approval, and prints off the contract for Larry and Lila to sign. One last handshake, and he walks them over to the insurance office to get the vehicle insured and plated. You just saw every feature exposed in the classic Process of Stealing. Next, I'll walk you through some good-sense tips to help you defend yourself.

USED CAR BUYING TIPS:
SELFYOUR PROCESS OF SELF-DEFENSE
You've seen how easily Wolfgang and his cronies can baffle you with the Process of Stealing. But you can defend yourself with some wise choices of your own. Here are some simple tips. They're like anti-bullshit amour.
• Always buy local. Never buy a car you can't see first. • Buy a one-owner car. • Do a lien search on the vehicle. It only costs ten dollars or so. If there's a

lien on the car that means the previous owner used it for collateral on an outstanding loan. Liens belong to objects of property, not to owners, which means you could get your new car repossessed for a debt that's not even yours!

• Do a declaration check. That way you can know if the car was involved in

any major accidents.
• Do a car facts search. Armed with the car's VIN (vehicle identification

number) you can look up the car's history. It's always nice to know if a cocaine courier slammed into a police cruiser in your vehicle.
• Get an independent mechanical check, and a complete safety inspection. • Buy from a well-known dealership. Avoid fly-by-nighters. • Read up on the car's history, and look up plenty of reviews online. Many

models have well-documented faults, and a little research lets you know.
• Check out prices in a lot of car ads, and go online to get the Black Book

value.

• Buy a car with some warranty left on it. • Don't buy a car that's over three years old. • Always make your deal without mentioning the trade. Get a price first, then

add the trade. That way you can fight back while Wolfgang's trying to baffle you.
• Test drive the car for at least two hours. There could always be a problem

that doesn't appear in the first five minutes of driving.
• Buy your car at night. As late as possible. If Wolfgang just wants to get to

the bar, he won't spend as much time messing with you.
• Hold out for new tires, a fresh oil change, and other maintenance. • Pick the salesman you like, not just the first monkey who jumps off a vine. • Check a Lemon-Aid used car guide. As a neutral third party, they specialize

in informing customers about faulty models!
• Always be prepared to walk away if you don't like the deal. • Ask to talk to the manager ASAP. Don't give the salesman any time to inflate

the price.
• Tell the manager you want to write a check. Don't let his computer tap your

bank account.
• While you're waiting for the paperwork to be done, get up and walk around.

It keeps your head clear. Go have a coffee or a smoke.
• Tell the manager you want to see the final price, taxes included. • Check your banks for rates. • When you're bargaining, ask him to take the taxes off. • Think about the manager's offer before you reply. Wait a while, take your

time, make him feel a little desperate.
• Keep on making counter-offers, and keep your poker face up. • Don't buy anything extra in the business office. • Don't bother with an extended warranty. It's almost never worth the high

cost.
• Read the paperwork carefully. Then read it again.

NEW CAR BUYING TIPS:
NEWER TOYS, SAME PLAYGROUND

• Go online first. Spend $30 at a website like carcost.com to get the real info

and cost for your car. Print off a copy of the information and bring it to the dealership. Most dealers will gladly do a straightforward deal and let you drive off.
• Don't let the dealer bullshit you about freight, destination charges, or extra

fees. Don't listen to them babble about the car's “extra options” -- if you don't want those options, ask for a car without them, or go somewhere else!
• Always buy a new car within the first 6 months of its life. The white sticker on

the inside of the driver's door will tell you its manufacturing date and VIN.
• Don't trade in a car while you're buying a new one. You'll always get more

for it privately.
• Don't buy anything extra from the business office. It's a bunch of overpriced,

worthless crap.
• They might not give you a free trip to Vegas -- don't worry about it! With all

the money you just saved, you can spend two weeks in the French Riviera.
• Remember to thank the salesman for his time. Salesmen are all nice guys at

heart...

CALLING A DEALERSHIP:
YOU BETTER USE PROTECTION...

Rule one? You shouldn't even bother. Calling a dealership about an advertised vehicle seems like a reasonable step, but remember, the Process of Stealing starts at the word “hello.” The dealership will say anything to get you down, but from there, you can expect them to push a completely different vehicle on you. The customer always pays more than expected. Either the salesman on the phone won't have the right info, or he'll actually lie to get you into the dealership. He might lower the mileage, mention options the car doesn't have, or even misquote the price on purpose. Making up an unrealistically low price for the car and an overly high value for your trade-in is a very common trick. As well, many advertised cars have spent a long time on the lot. They're usually suffering from mechanical problems, or are reputed lemons. But if you call Wolfgang, he won't mention that. He'll promise to send the car to your house and pick up your trade at the same time. He'll give you his lowest quote, “just so we know where we stand,” and get your credit info over the phone. Now you need to show up at the dealership, and he's looking forward to the classic bait-and-switch routine. But don't worry! All his customers get a free trip to Vegas.

THIEF-OLOGY 101:
FUNNY AND SCARY FACTS ABOUT THE BUSINESS

• After making a big sale, veterans usually scatter a handful of pennies on the

lot. “It's a homage to the car gods.” You'd be surprised how many customers stoop and pick one up: “My new lucky penny!” We try not to laugh too hard, because we just took loads of money from them.
• It's always funny to watch a salesman's face when Mr. Grinch tells him Larry

and Lila couldn't get financed. That's what you call major brain damage.
• Most veterans start up their cars and pull out smokes at least half an hour

before closing time. They want to discourage late customers arriving -- that would cut into their boozy time.
• When the DP (Dealer Principal) shows up, all the smart salesmen hustle out

of the building. Time for a smoke, or better yet, lunch.
• If there's no coffee, it's because the salesmen are too lazy to make it. There

is never any other reason.
• Most older veterans have full-on addictions, one way or another, and have

blown through at least one marriage.

• Some managers refer to salesmen as prostitutes. It's because of how we look

when we're standing outside, smoking and waiting for customers.
• “The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation,” said Henry David

Thoreau. For salesmen in particular, this usually strikes home.
• Salesmen make excellent money, but lack the time to enjoy it or pay

attention to their families.
• Every veteran hates seeing two monkeys dashing toward a customer at once.

It's pathetic.

I guess I sound a little jaded, huh? Well, maybe I'm burnt out... maybe I'll just retire...

EPILOGUE:
THANKS FOR ALL THE LOVE
I would thank everyone who bought a car from me, but I'm sure many of them are still angry. So I'll thank you for reading my little book instead. After 15 years of this madness, it's well and truly time to retire. So as we speak I'm polishing the last rough edges on this e-book, relaxing with my laptop in a hammock, sipping from a Corona with plenty of lime. Here in the Cook Islands, it's 78° in the shade. The warm ocean breeze is blowing away my last leftover brain damage from the business. I am going deep-sea fishing this afternoon, and tonight is a cocktail party with some friends from Hollywood, so I need to get this off to my publisher. I kind of like this “retirement” thing, hanging around doing nothing all day. But then again -- I'm used to it! Thanks one more time for making my dreams come true. Ever since I started this book, I have slept far better at night. I am really not such a bad guy. But the Process of Stealing sucked me in, and my moral sense fell victim to it. I hope some of this information can save you and your family thousands of dollars on your next car purchase. With all that extra money, you can get a far nicer vacation than two days on the Vegas Strip. I'll be right here in my hammock laughing with glee, so come by if you spot me. I'll buy you some drinks.

APPENDIX:
THINGS CAR SALESMEN HATE
• Early morning meetings about • Photocopiers and printers

nothing. (There's no other kind of morning meeting.)
• Car keys going missing. • When they're trying to cut a deal,

breaking in the middle of a deal.
• The mangler losing car keys and

registration papers.
• Lot lizards taking lunch break in

the mangler walks up and cuts a fart.
• A monkey asking them questions

the middle of cleaning out a car.
• Monkeys getting lucky and

while they're eating lunch.
• Flat tires on the cars they're trying

snatching the ultimate Larry and Lila Laydown.
• Monkeys kissing the mangler's

to sell.
• Trade-in vehicles with empty gas

ass.
• Being asked “Is that your bottom

tanks.
• The mangler rummaging through

line?” “Is tax included?” or “How late are you guys open?”
• Customers arriving just before

their desks.
• Customers with dragon breath. • The mangler disappearing for

close.
• Unattainable monthly bonuses

hours.
• Getting attitude from lowly lot

set by clueless or evil manglers.
• The mangler constantly yelling

lizards.
• Dumb or sarcastic receptionists. • Fresh snow on the cars. • Customers spending hours in the

about nothing.
• Getting shit for having a smoke. • Executives wasting time “shuffling

numbers.”

main washroom.

THE OTHER APPENDIX:
MY FAVOURITE BUMPER STICKERS
• Look Out! I Drive Just Like You • SHHH! I'm Listening To A Book • If The Screams From My Trunk • Boldly Going Nowhere • Give Me Coffee And Nobody

Gets Hurt
• Keep Honking, I'm Reloading • Earth Is Full, Go Home • Lord, Save Me From Your

Bother You, Turn Up Your Radio!
• I'm Not Tailgating -- I'm Kissing

Ass
• Beer's Cheaper Than Gasoline --

Followers
• Jesus Is Coming -- Look Busy • My Wife's Other Car Is A

Drink, Don't Drive
• Slick, Smooth And Flashy (And I

Don't Mean My Car)
• Horn Broken -- Watch For Finger • My Other Car Is Also A Piece Of

Broomstick
• I Don't Brake • Honk If Anything Falls Off • Help! I Farted And Can't Roll

Shit
• Real Men Don't Ask Directions • Bad Cop -- No Donut • Drive Like You Stole It • Caution -- Driver Legally Blonde • If You Can Read This, I Lost My

Down The Window
• Eat Right, Exercise, Die Anyway • My Karma Ran Over My Dogma • Don't Wash This Vehicle --

Undergoing Scientific Dirt Analysis
• Jesus Loves You -- Everyone Else

Trailer
• Go On -- I'll See You At The

Thinks You're An Asshole

Next Traffic Light