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Bright Ideas
Linda Lee Goldberg Gets the Best Deals Going Between Customers and Car Dealerships

by Sam Whiting
Reprint: San Francisco Chronicle Magazine
April 30, 2008

Some people like to haggle with car salesmen. Linda Lee Goldberg of San Rafael is one. She likes it so much you can hire her to do your haggling for you at

"I WENT TO WORK in car dealerships so I could learn sales management and financing. After I stepped out of the industry, that very day I became a buyer's agent and created a whole new concept in the way people could buy cars.

A CLIENT CONTACTS CarQ and creates the ideal profile for the vehicle they want. There is a process so we can obtain pricing information. That inflormation is translated into a written preliminary pricing report. The client will then receive this report, which includes all the standard equipment, dealer costs and retail pricing on all the options, and a review of the leasing or financing they want set up for themselves.

$39O IS OUR full service. We have a $100 surcharge to handle leasing or financing. We also handle factory orders and address the issue of trade-ins. If they just want a pricing consultation - they don't want a written report, they just want us to tell them what the price of the vehicle should be - that's $290.

ONCE I'VE DECIDED that we've hit the lowest price point and we've got the best dealer to work with in the area, then that dealer will be give the client's ideal profile. We get the deal consummated in writing with the dealer and then the paperwork is issued to the client. The only thing they do is go into the dealership, have their final test drive and contract the car. They don't negotiate. They don't talk price with the dealer at all. The client pays the seller. CarQ does not receive compensation on any level from anyone other than the client. So as an agent I have no conflict of interest.

I HAVE ACCESS TO proprietary information, meaning I have access to dealer costs and retail pricing. A salesperson makes anywhere between 20 and 30 percent of the profit that they generate. The finance manager makes 30 or 35 percent of the profit that they generate and the sales manager gets 10 to 20 percent override of everything that everyone else earns. No one at the dealership is motivated to want to save consumers money.

WHEN WE BRING A CLIENT to a dealer, we've done the research. We know the deal is good. The dealer benefits from that in customer satisfaction. They like working with us because they don't have to sit and haggle. They want to make deals more quickly even though they won't get the best price.

OVER THE LAST TWO YEARS we've developed a new service called "the deal review". That's for the buyer that likes to go negotiate. They bring us a written quote. We review the deal and tell them how to improve upon it and they go back and renegotiate with their dealer based on our recommendations. If the written quote is already the best deal, the fee of $190 is waived.

I DON'T LIKE CARS but I do like saving people money. I never see a dealer. When I walk into a dealership just to see what they're up to, they don't know who I am. I find that as a negotiator it is better to keep the emotions and the judgmental attitudes out of the equation. This eliminates all of that time and stress that a consumer goes through when they approach a car dealer.

I LIKE TO NEGOTIATE. I like to know that I'm sharing my expertise and I like consumers not being ripped off."

THE LIGHTBULB: I had been in the automobile industry. This was a group in Beverly Hills, and after I'd been there several months I realized that they were manipulating the truth and consumers were being outright lied to. At that moment I decided that I was going to level the playing field and represent solely the consumer.

San Francisco Chronicle
April 2008

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