Thursday, January 6, 2011

Call for Price! Not!

One of the biggest time-wasters around are people who offer products for sale with the notation "Call for Price!"   Here's a hint:  The price isn't going to be a bargain.

When buying a car, boat, RV, motorcycle, or even home, price is the largest single factor involved.  Yes, things like age, condition, location, mileage, color, options, or whatever are important, too.  But all are really only relevant in terms of price.

And if someone isn't going to be up-front about the price, just walk away.

As I have noted time and again, the more complicated you can make any financial transaction, the easier it is to rip-off the consumer.  And playing "hide the price" is one way to complicate a transaction.

Car dealers and other places which use professional salesmen use the "Call for Price!" technique all the time - to snag customers.  They get you to call, and then hem and haw about what a great car it is, and how you can have it for low, low monthly payments.  The last thing they want to do is tell you the actual overall price, because that would make you hang up right away.  And if they put the price in the ad, well, you'd never call in the first place.

Others, well, they try to feel you out, to see what you are willing to pay first, before naming a price.  If you appear to be ignorant or unsophisticated, they quote a higher price, thinking they can fool you.  If they think you have a lot of money, they might quote a higher price as well.

In the past, these techniques have been used in particular to target racial minorities - and charge them higher prices.  Folklore abounds, among salesmen, that certain minorities are not very sophisticated, and thus should never be offered better pricing.  And yes, that is racism, of the worst sort.  And it is what you are getting yourself into if you "Call for Price!".

People know, when they are going to sell something, what they'd like to get for it.  It is no big mystery or some imaginary number like the square root of -1.  Why they play this game is that they know their price is too high and they hope to talk someone into buying their product for more than its actual value.

For things like cars, boats, motorcycles, etc., there are "book values" from, and - and you should research these sites before buying any motorized goods, to make sure you are not overpaying.  These are fungible commodities, and it is quite easy to price them, within a few hundred dollars of actual value.

Homes and the like can be "comp'ed" to other homes in the area - and the selling price is listed in the Multiple Listing Service.  The idea of hiding home prices has fallen from favor as of late (particularly in the downturn) with many agents even listing prices on signs.  But back in the day, you'd see this sometimes in Realtor ads - and it was a sure sign the home was overpriced.

My neighbor is trying to sell his truck, and has had it sitting at the end of his driveway for two months now, with no takers.  He has a sign on it, with the year, make, model, mileage, and phone number, but no price.  "Call for price!" it says.  Really?  In the time it took you to write that, you could have put the price on it.  Why the big mystery?  It's just a truck, like about a million others just like it that rolled off the same assembly line.  Why is the price an undefined number?

If you are looking to buy a used car from an individual, walk away from the "Call for Price!" people, as they are not going to be reasonable.  The want you to come out and "look at the car" and then try to talk you into paying more for it than it is worth.  Only an idiot would do this - any car is worth only what the book value says - no matter what some amateur salesman thinks.

Even bothering to call idiots like this, is an utter waste of your time.  Like I said, you get them on the phone and they say "Well, she's really cherry - low miles, and always garaged" and you interrupt with "What is the price?" and they blather on about how it was owned by Grandma.  Just hang up the phone and save yourself a lot of grief.

Maybe there is an idiot out there who will pay them "their price" - there is, after all, a sucker born every minute.  But that doesn't mean you should be the idiot.

If someone is serious about selling something, they put a price on it - and a realistic price at that.

Just walk away from anything else!