Buying cars through AAA or Costco Program?

Discussion in 'Prius v Main Forum' started by Piggipiggy, Aug 13, 2012.

  1. Piggipiggy

    Piggipiggy New Member

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    Hi all,
    Is it worth it to buy cars through the AAA or Costco program? I'm looking to get a Prius v model 3 and am now price comparing. Thank you!
     
  2. rjparker

    rjparker Senior Member

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    If you don't like to negotiate and talk to multiple dealers to get the best deal, Costco might save some money. Probably does not hurt to check their pricing. But go to the local volume dealer first and test drive and ask for their best no trade price to compare. Unfortuately it's not just the car price where they make their money, it's financing, warranties and "seal" jobs, all of which usually cost thousands less somewhere else. Even that has exceptions, but the bottom line is just that; add all the costs including the overall total finance charge.
     
  3. xs650

    xs650 Senior Member

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    Each Costco area makes arrangements with dealers. The prices can be a lot better than the average person pays, or not very different if you are buying a car that is in high demand. If you are a good negotiator, you can likely match Costco's price on your own.

    I had a very good experience buying an Acura through the Costco plan. The price was good and the salesman at the dealer that Costco sent me too was on the up and up and pleasure to do business with.

    OTOH, when the Toyota dealer that Costco used in my area (Folson Lake Toyota) was complete douchenozzle. He was jerk and insisted on including dealer add-ons which is against Costco's policy. There is no cost or obligation if you try the Costco program and it will at least give you a feel for what the real prices are in your ares.
     
  4. ZPriusv5

    ZPriusv5 Junior Member

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    I just bought a Prius v 5 w/ ATP on Friday using Costco pricing. You can research the Costco price at costcoauto.com - outfit the vehicle to your liking and look at the dealer invoice pricing. Costco price will be $500 above that (may vary by region and the dealer will show you the list directly from Costco of what their negotiated markup is; when my dealer showed me, I noticed the markup varies by model e.g. Corolla was $250 above invoice I believe).

    You still have to negotiate trade-in and financing (if that applies) because Costco didn't have anything special there - same with all that extra crap like warranty extension, paint protection, etc.

    I found the sales person to be very professional during the discussions perhaps cause he was a good guy, but I have believe it was also partially because he must maintain a relationship with Costco to get those qualified leads (only certain contacts at a dealer near you are even authorized to take you through the program). You get a survey from Costco whether you buy a car or not asking how they did.

    Costcoauto.com also shows you other programs that might be available (through auto-maker) to be combined with Costco's savings (click on "Finance & Savings" box at the top of their screen). After the purchase when I filled out the survey I got a $50 voucher for service/products from my dealer - maybe I'll get a keychain or something... Hope this helps.

    [EDIT] found this page that explains a bit more the perks of Costco's program:
    Welcome to Costco Auto Program
    which explains a couple things that I think lead to a pleasant buying experience for me (there is much more at that web page):

    Participating Dealerships

    • Agree to meet strict pricing requirements
    • Consistently rank high in Customer Satisfaction Scores
    • Ensure select dealership representative’s (certified and trained Authorized Dealer Contacts) are available to assist members
    • Offer inventory levels that provide strong representation for their brand
    If a dealership upholds these conditions, the Costco Auto Program invites them into the dealer network and establishes low, prearranged pricing on the members behalf for each vehicle the dealership offers.
    Even after a dealership is trained and working with Costco members, the Auto Program will continually monitor their performance. Our staff of Mystery Shoppers will ‘shop’ the dealer and evaluate the Authorized Contacts, provide feedback and when necessary, retrain. This allows us to quickly identify and resolve any areas that need improvement before member service is affected.
    Another member benefit the participating dealership must commit to is establishing Authorized Dealer Contacts.
    Authorized Dealer Contacts

    • Trained and certified to follow established Costco Auto Program processes
    • Commits to providing a first-class member experience
    • Ensures a no-pressure, no-obligation buying process
    Before the member ever steps through the door, the Costco Auto Program has already taken lengthy measures to choose top-rated dealers, enforce strict pricing standards and designate and train Authorized Dealer Contacts – all to ensure member satisfaction.
     
  5. blisspacket

    blisspacket Junior Member

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    There a v's on the market used, also, for those wanting to go that route. Always worthwhile to do a Carfax. I was initially turned off by their pricing, and went to VinAudit. VinAudit did NOT produce an accurate record, (as evidenced by a Carfax and by the seller's statement) and I'd urge folks to stay away from them.
     
  6. n0na

    n0na Junior Member

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    I bought my v3 through Costco in April. I was to pay $800 over dealer cost per the Costco agreement. However, after the dealer and I agreed on price and options, I was told that I'd also have to pay nearly $600 more to cover their cost of advertising. The funny thing is that I'd never seen the dealer do any advertising for the Prius v either before or after I bought it, so I don't think they paid for any advertising. I complained to Costco that dealer advertising was a cost of doing business and the cutomer should have to pay it directly. Nor was there anyway for me to verify that their charge for advertising had any connection with reality. Costco said they couldn't do anything for me and that the $800 profit was all they negotiated with the dealer. So, I paid about $1400 over dealer cost. I could have done better by visiting all of the local dealers, but that would have taken a day or two of my time, not to mention a couple of hundred miles of driving. I think the Costco program needs to be tightened up as there are too many ways for the dealer to rip you off. (I was also charged a $14 fuel fee, though the salesman couldn't explain what it was for. And I was charged a $150 document fee [the maximum allowed by state law] which was supposed to be negotiable but which the salesman refused to negotiate on.)

    Costco did help me with an option. I wanted an alarm but the saleman wouldn't order a car with that option. He wanted to sell me one he could get from another dealer and then do a dealer install for the alarm. I was charged for full list price for that alarm. Costco told me they only negotiated for the car as delivered to the dealer and dealer installed options were between me and the dealer. I said that I could have had the alarm for dealer cost if I had been allowed to order the car. Costco made a call to the dealer and I was refunded the difference between the list price and the dealer cost.

    Make sure you get the dealer costs for the car and all options you want so that you'll know if what the dealer tells you is accurate. You can get that from edmunds.com. In the old days (20 years or more ago) dealers needed a fair profit on every car they sold. Today, they can sell the car at cost and make their profit on financing, extended warranties, future service shop charges, etc. So, you should be able to get a good deal on even a car like the Prius v that's in relatively high demand.
     
  7. cwerdna

    cwerdna Senior Member

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    The pricing can depend. My parents bought their leftover (but still new) 07 NAH in 08 from the designated Costco dealer. The dealer was willing to knock some $ off the Costco price and my mom needed a car, so they didn't want to spend a huge amount of time shopping around. They were happy w/the price they got, given the limited time we had.

    A friend of mine bought a '11 Prius at end of last year, also partly by requesting a Costco price via their program. In the end, the dealer said that she was able to negotiate a better deal than the pre-negotiated Costco price. The salesman showed us the Costco memo/paperwork w/the discount listed.
     
  8. rjparker

    rjparker Senior Member

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    Your story illustrates the first cardinal rule of dealing with car salesmen, don't let them think you won't walk out, and be ready to leave late in the game after the sales "price" has been settled. In fact if you have time, walk out after spending a couple hours there and don't come back until you have been to another dealer. I had an experience with a big San Antonio dealer where the first salesman gave me a good price but the car wasn't off the truck yet. By the time I returned the first guy was out sick and the new guy would not honor the price. As Nancy Sinatra said "these boots are made for walking..." Ended up at every dealer and bought at the lot with the worst location but best price. Of course the financing guy tried to game me also...

     
  9. btcompute

    btcompute Junior Member

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    I bought me 2012 V through US News Best Price Program:
    U.S. News Best Price Program | U.S. News Best Cars

    I had three Toyota dealers bidding for my business. I got a very good deal. Most of the negotiating was done via email. Very easy process.
    I recommend this service.
     
  10. vlady

    vlady Junior Member

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    Be aware, the pricing via costco won't guarantee low price, you may get it lower by buying without it.
    I used Costco to get dealership pricing over invoice. Used 5 dealers and only 2 has the same price of $200 over invoice, the rest were over $500+. It helped in negotiation process and I opted to buy without Costco program.
    The other thing is that under costco program sales crew cannot pressure you over sale.
     
  11. xs650

    xs650 Senior Member

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    I will gladly pay $300 more to not have to talk to 4 more car salesmen.
     
    isamp likes this.
  12. Jessica and Ron Mintz

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    We told our dealer -- the one closest to our house and where we'll go for service -- about Costco and he denied it applied to high demand cars like the Prius. But we had already gotten the name of a dealer (one further away) who had quoted the price. The original dealer matched it within $150.
     
  13. Glen Davis

    Glen Davis Junior Member

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    I got pricing from Costco and AAA. I found another dealer with no relationships was cheaper buy $700 over costco.
     
  14. Seaside Harry

    Seaside Harry Junior Member

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    I'm a huge fan of Costco (ours was still Price Club when we first joined), but I was not at all impressed with the quote we got from their affiliated local dealer when shopping for our 2005 Prius.

    I decided to let my keyboard do the talking for that purchase, composing an email that detailed our desired option package, 1st, 2nd, and 3rd color choices, and all the other particulars that were important to us. I shotgunned this out to every Toyota dealership in southeastern Va and northeastern NC for whom I could find an email address, and explained that I would only entertain email responses—no phone calls. The only offers I would consider were those that best matched my stated requirements and provided a bottom-line "out-the-door" price, including any dealer prep, advertising fees, "documentation fees," and other such items. Dealers were invited to describe any incentives they might offer, such as free oil changes for life, free state inspections, etc., but a few dealers indicated they would not provide a price until I shopped around, so they could "make an offer" after I told them the best price I got from one of their competitors.

    I sent an identically-worded email back to each of these "no-quote" dealers, explaining that this would be my final correspondence unless they chose to respond with a firm price quote, as I had no intention of sharing any dealer's offer with any other dealer. After receiving all responses from each dealership willing to provide a quote, I would choose the best offer and contact that dealer and only that dealer.

    This actually worked very well for us, even though many dealerships at that time did not yet have an Internet-sales department or were just starting them up. We ended up choosing a small-town NC dealership about an hour away from us who had exactly the car we wanted. We verified all the final details by phone and there were no surprises when we arrived to consummate the deal. They made no attempt to sell us the extended warranty, window etching, or other undesired add-ons, and even arranged for Virginia registration at the DMV office nearest to our house.

    We are just about ready to begin the same process to purchase a Prius v, so we'll see if the Costco price compares any better this time around.
     
  15. DrElectron

    DrElectron Junior Member

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    We recently purchased a V2 using Costco and were extremely pleased with the experience. Costco's dealer was about $800 less than the local dealer's best price. Costco's dealer did not stick us with high profit add-ons like sealer and they delivered car to our driveway.
     
  16. cbingel

    cbingel Junior Member

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    I used the Costco price as a starting point when I bought my v3 on Saturday. 7 hours later, I closed the place, and I think the salesman hates me, but I'm happy with what I got. And I love my new v!
     
  17. moedjo

    moedjo New Member

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    This seems to be an older thread, but I will give my 2 cents to you anyway.

    I started shopping around for a Prius V Three a couple of months ago. I used Dianne's pricing from this site as a guideline to what a good deal is.

    I applied for the costco pricing and went to the dealership to see what they could do. They were pretty far off Diane's prices, and I pointed this out to them. They said they were locked down to the agreed price with Costco.

    I then went to cars.com, searched for new cars and filled out the form that they have on each car. This sent the information to that dealers internet department and they contacted me with their best prices... which beat the costco price by more than $800! Remember, this was the price I got WITHOUT having to set a foot in a dealership!

    I ended up pitching a couple of dealerships against each other and got the price down to less than $26k (This is in the chicagoland area).

    It is a new era and you can get a good deal by just spending a couple of hours on the internet!
     
  18. mikefocke

    mikefocke Prius v Three 2012, Avalon 2011

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    I'm amazed that you got a better deal in NC than in VA. I say that because the SE Toyota Distributor causes the selling price of every Toyota to be around $800 higher due to options they add to all cars from FL to NC. When I bought my wife's Avalon, it was worth $2k to me to go to CarMax in LAurel, Md from NC for the exact same car because I didn't value all the add ons at the same level as the SE Distributor did. When I bought my PriusV, the local dealer knew that I had an option of going north, that I had done so before and was value oriented. As a result, I got a deal that, while not exactly equal in price, was close enough not to be an insult and worth it for the convenience. Did take 3 rounds of pricing though.
     
  19. Seaside Harry

    Seaside Harry Junior Member

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    Mike, I think you are responding to my post from Sep 23, so here's some clarifying info. When we bought our '05 Prius, there were six different option packages. At that time, however, not all of the Toyota sales regions offered every package. In our case, we wanted the HomeLink mirror and JBL sound system that were only available on Packages #5 & 6. The SE region dealers in NC offered this package, but the VA dealers (Mid-Atlantic region) did not. In VA, we'd have to move up to Pkg #6, although we didn't want the HID headlights or navigation system that came with that package.

    The VA dealers who responded to my email were either unable or unwilling to obtain a Pkg #5 Prius for us, and of the few who provided a price quote, none were competitive enough to make the Pkg #6 worth the extra money. It looks like this won't be an issue when we shop for our v, since it appears that all dealers everywhere in the U.S. are offering each of the available option packages.

    This time around, our biggest aggravation is that we can only get the HomeLink mirror and 3-door SKS on the Five, which includes a whole bunch of stuff we don't want, need, or care about. I'll probably install the Gentex mirror myself, but we'll really miss the SKS on the passenger & hatch doors.

    -Harry
     
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