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Monday, Apr 22, 2024

‘People Are Tired of the Process of Buying a Car’

As the auto industry gets shaken up by ongoing financial difficulties, change is on the way that will topple all that has been familiar for decades. No change directly affects the consumer more than the relationship between the salesman and the car-buying customer. Namely, will that relationship continue. That’s where Oren Weintraub and his staff of six at Authority Auto enter the picture. Weintraub worked in car sales for a dozen years and knows all the tricks and traps salesmen use in negotiating a sale; negotiations that tend to end with the buyer paying more than they should. “People are tired of the process of buying a car,” Weintraub said. “The industry will have to change so people feel better about the car buying experience.” With its full service option, Weintraub & Co. takes care of all aspects of a purchase or lease, including financing rates and terms and trade-in values. The “improve your deal” service has Authority shopping for a better price, with the client paying a percentage of the amount saved. Using a middleman in a car purchase is not revolutionary as car brokers have been around for years. Weintraub, however, shuns the broker label and wants to distance Authority Auto from the tactics used by salesmen. Instead, he calls the Sherman Oaks-based firm a car buying concierge service that sides totally with the customer and receives no commission from dealers or dealer reps like brokers do. In fact, if Weintraub were a broker he could pull in more money a month on completed sales by tacking on hidden fees and costs the buyer isn’t aware of. At an average of 50 sales a month, an extra $500 tacked onto client’s bill adds up to $25,000, Weintraub said, punching numbers into a desk calculator. “It hurts to see that statistic,” Weintraub said. Uncomfortable process Hurt it may but equally uncomfortable was having to out negotiate the customers at the dealerships he worked at, including a Ford dealer in Woodland Hills where he had been general sales manager. Getting away from the atmosphere of closing deals that didn’t make sense for customers he often liked was one reason why Weintraub opened Authority in November 2006. (The other reason was to have more time for his family.) For car buyers who believe that salesman are out to rip them off and talk them into wrong deals, the answer to their problem is in a service offered by Weintraub. “I cannot overestimate the dread of the car-buying experience,” said Philip Reed, senior consumer advice editor with Edmunds.com in Santa Monica. “When (people) find someone they can trust they hang on like a life raft.” In testimonials at the Authority website, customers praised the ease, convenience and professionalism of Weintraub’s staff. Reed himself did a secret comparison of deals that both Edmunds and Authority could get on a vehicle, with Authority coming out on top. An Edmunds staff photographer then used the service to purchase a Mazda 3 at $2,000 below invoice, a better deal than what his employer could find. Reed hired Weintraub to find a good price on a 2009 diesel Jetta for his father in Colorado. “Oren is respectful yet firm,” said Reed, a former car salesman himself. “He is living proof there are different styles of negotiating.” With a fee structure ranging from $495 to $895 depending on the cost of the vehicle for the full service, Authority targets buyers of all socio-economic backgrounds. But as the economy and auto industry rights itself and buyers return to showrooms if dealers on their own have changed their sales philosophy so as to improve the purchase experience it may cut into the Authority business model. That’s not to say customers will dwindle away. Authority gets many repeat customers. Those happy with the deal they receive recommend the firm to their family and friends. Those who don’t have the time to comparison shop, don’t want to deal with the buying process or desire a hard-to-find vehicle are among the best candidates for the service Authority offers. March was the best month of the year so far with 56 sales made in advance of the increase in sales tax on April 1. May was shaping up to be another 50-plus sale month, Weintraub said.

Mark Madler
Mark Madler
Mark R. Madler covers aviation & aerospace, manufacturing, technology, automotive & transportation, media & entertainment and the Antelope Valley. He joined the company in February 2006. Madler previously worked as a reporter for the Burbank Leader. Before that, he was a reporter for the City News Bureau of Chicago and several daily newspapers in the suburban Chicago area. He has a bachelor’s of science degree in journalism from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.

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