Advice for price negotiation by lying to the dealer (Should I keep an incentive secret?)

I have a question about negotiating the price of a new car at a dealership. I’ve heard the local dealer hasn’t been willing to negotiate much on price since the model has good fuel efficiency. About $500-800 off sticker price is all they will budge, and they will let you walk away if you press any more. However I qualify for an incentive worth $1000 off. Should I keep that incentive secret and negotiate the $500 off first, so the total reduction will be at least $1500?

During the sales pitch, the salesperson will ask if I qualify for any of their incentives. I will have to flat-out LIE right to the salesperson’s face. If I said I qualify, then I wouldn’t get as much of a sticker reduction. After I get the $500 off sticker price negotiated, then I will reveal the $1000 incentive. But won’t the sales manager then be PISSED that I lied and cancel the deal?

It might help if we knew what kind of incentive this is. I’m assuming this incentive is paid by someone other than the dealer, in which case I can’t see how it actually matters to them.

I believe all the incentives are paid by the national dealership since they are listed on both the national company website and the local dealership website. Mostly I’m concerned about the lying part, since I will have to deny I qualify for any of their incentives to first maximize a sticker price reduction. Then I will look so two-faced when I reveal that I actually do qualify for an incentive.

we still don’t know what kind of incentive it is.

I’ve never had a dealer ask me about any incentives, so what makes you think this dealer will?


I dunno, I just don’t spend much effort on the whole negotiation games. They have their normal $500-800 bottom line. You have an extra $1000. So your total target discount is now $1500-1800. When you hit that level, close the deal, otherwise go to another town. What difference does it make if you tell them before since your total target discount will be the same anyway?

I have done the pricing work ahead of time and know pretty much the range of prices I want to be in. After maybe 30 minutes of back and forth, I’m either close enough or no sale. At the end if we’re at an impass, a hundred bucks worth of winter floor mats makes us both happy.

Be careful about getting into a peeing contest with a dealer. If the incentive rebate or credit is outside of their prerogative, just say…" That is information that has nothing to do with the deal" and refuse to answer the question. Under no circumstances should you lie.

Why does the OP think the salesman won’t know about the incentive? How is it a secret?

Don’t lie. Tell him you don’t want to talk incentives or anything else until you agree to a price. That’s what I do. If they ask about a trade-in, I tell them I’m not sure even if I am sure I want to trade in a car. If you keep the negotiations simple, they can’t confuse you or use their own deceptive tactics. Make sure they know that you are a serious buyer and that price is very important to you.

IMHO not disclosing an incentive is not lying. Nor is it deceptive or dishonest in any way.

Negotiate first, then, when you have the price you want, disclose the incentive. If he balks, walk away. He’ll call you in a day or two.

Until you sign the paperwork, you are in control. Most buyers don’t understand this. Most are not used to being in control of a negotiation.

My experience has been that the sales manager at the dealer knows about the incentives. Use the incentive after you have negotiated a price without mentioning the incentive, then throw it in. Sometimes the dealer will bring up an incentive. I negotiated a straight out price on .a 2011 Sienna. The dealer then noticed we were driving a 2003 4Runner. We were then given an additional price reduction from the factory for being loyal Toyota owners.

IMHO, not disclosing an incentive is no worse than not telling the wait staff at a restaurant you have a gift card or discount coupon until the meal is over. You can bet that most dealers have little problem lying to you to get you to pay the most they can squeeze from you, though I don’t think that not disclosing the incentive until after you’ve made the best deal you can is lying–I would consider it good bargaining. I’m sure that if you mentioned the incentive, they would try to work it into “their deal” and you would end up paying more. Worst case, if they don’t like it, simply thank them for their time and walk away. There are plenty of car dealers.

Depending on the type of incentive, it is likely paid by the manufacturer anyway, not out of the dealer’s pocket.

As someone who sold cars for a living at one point. I can tell you that the dealership will know about any current incentives, especially nationally advertised ones. When I worked for Ford we even had some pretty obscure incentives, the American Quarterhorse Association discount. I don’t think your cunning plan is going to pan out.

It really is your deal, and you set the rules. If the price comes out where you like it, buy the car. If not, go to another dealer. You can talk about the incentive and then tell the salesperson to quote you a price, including the incentive. If they play games with you and try to take your money, leave. Buy your car from a different dealer. The service department at the first dealership will honor your warranty regardless.

You are buying a car, not making a new friend. All the smiling and friendly charm you see at the dealership is simple BS to get you to buy a car at the biggest profit they can squeeze out of the deal, nothing more. You don’t have to be sly or cagey; you have to be certain.

I think you should tell the wait staff if you have a discount. We buy coupons for restaurants we like Last week, we used one and the waitress asked us if we had that particular coupon. She reminded us that at least one of us had to buy an entree to qualify for the discount. I wanted an entree anyway, but Mrs JT wanted a small plate meal that did not qualify as an entree. Had we both ordered small plates, we could not have used the coupon. Better to know before the meal than when the check arrives. Then everyone is unhappy.

A lot of the coupons will say to please let them know you have a coupon when ordering. Then they don’t screw the bill up anyway and have to redo it. Personally I don’t like using coupons. I like to just order what I want. I don’t like returning stuff either and end up just throwing it away. Must be something deep seated from childhood. I dunno.

We never used coupons when I was young either. I don’t think they existed for restaurants then. It would have been great to get those Bronto-Burgers at a reduced price, though. The one we used is a good deal. Pay $15 for the coupon and then get $30 off for your meal. After the price reduction, the tip was almost as much as the bill. I know that we actually paid $15 more than the final check showed, but it was fun to see anyway. 5 minutes work at most and we made $15. That’s good pay; $180/hour.

You do realize that you can do all the negotiations over the phone. Just be sure to get them to send you a confirming email with all the details.

I expect if you say you aren’t going to use an incentive during the negotiation phase, then you change your mind and later decide to use one, that would give them the right to change their mind too.

That said, I wouldn’t offer up the incentive info unless they ask specifically about it.

Worth a try. I doubt it will work; the Honda salesmen are well trained on the ways of the automobile customer, know all the tricks, and are presented with this situation most every day on the car lot. Remember, these folks do this job 5 or 6 days a week, 8 to 12 hours a day, many doing it for years. The odds just aren’t in your favor of getting a leg up on them.

Here’s the leverage points you have in your favor. Suggest you focus on those to get the best deal.

  1. You are the one writing the check. No check from you, no income to them.
  2. You know you have the resources to complete the transaction. They don’t.
    3… You know what cars/options are ultimately acceptable to you, they don’t.
  3. You may well purchase a car from sellers other than this particular dealership if the deal they propose doesn’t strike you as a friendly one.