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Lessons From a Top Buyer
Reprint: Money For Women, May-June 2000

A woman who buys as many as 50 cars a month on behalf of her clients talks about how she got into this business and how she negotiates with dealers for the best price.

In 1988, after working as a car saleswoman, leasing specialist and finance manager, Linda Lee Goldberg founded CarSource (800-517-2277;, a Larkspur, California firm that negotiates with car dealers on behalf of buyers nationwide. We asked Goldberg how she contends with an industry thought to be inhospitable to women.

Q. From your years in this business, what have you learned about car dealers?
A. They habitually manipulate the truth. A consumer can be quoted three different monthly payments on the same car from three dealers. One will neglect to mention a $4,000 down payment; another will lengthen the loan to lower payments.

Q. Why did you form your business?
A. I worked briefly for a broker who bought cars from dealers and resold them. The company got dealer payments and over charged customers. As a buyer, you need somebody with no link to the dealers.

Q. How do you approach a client order?
A. I call up to 20 dealers - usually in the client's region - to see who's bidding lowest. That particular dealer may have too much inventory of whatever car I want.

Q. Even as a pro, do you get a hard time from dealers?
A. Sure. Nearly every day I talk to some guy who tries to convince me that his dealership's bid on the car is a good price when I know it's not.

Q. What's your response?
A. I think it's part of the negotiating game. I keep working for a better price. But one dealer gave me a good price and told me he'd have to order the car. I later learned that he had one on the lot but didn't want to sell it at my price. I quit calling.

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