I recently found out about the Costco Auto program through the news. Funny that being a Costco members for years, no one in our family is aware of this incentive. And, their fliers are posted all over the customer service areas.
Anyhow, I am in the market for a new car as my 5-yr European car is starting to be more of a burden than an enjoyment and my 80-mi roundtrip to work drive is burning a hole in my pocket at the gas pump. So, I decided to give this auto program a try.
My experience was very disappointing because it doesn't give you options of which nearest participating dealership to associate with. It just automatically sends your info to a dealership who will contact you. The dealer contacted me on the same day. We made some exchanges via emails and once over the phone. I was very specific on the car I wanted including all of the options. I also asked the salesperson about the comparison between 2 of very specific cars. The lady didn't answer some of my questions over the emails. She also didn't provide me with a price. I stopped exchanging contacts. Then she called me. I re-iterated everything I stated over the emails and demanded her to give me a quote. She refused.
First refusal was because she didn't know which cars I wanted. So, I restated all of the specifics. I said Hybrid with Leather and no Nav - quote. And, Civic EX-L with no nav and no other options. - Quote. (Honestly... how many versions of Honda Civic /Hybrid can there be???)
Second refusal was because she needs to verify my Costco membership. I told her I'll be glad to give her all of my Costco details. This shouldn't be a deterrent of giving me a price over the phone. I told her that if the price was attractive enough to begin with... you might just get me off the couch.
Third refusal was because she said prices changes daily like the stock market.
(Uh.. seriously??? How much changes are we talking about? double digits? triple digits? that you can't quote me a price????? If pricing was so unstable how are you doing on the internet sales???)
So then it ended. I terminated all contact. I refused to deal with people who expect you to come in and negotiate on what's supposed to be a "fixed" and "pre-negotiated" price through a partnership auto program. I submitted my negative review to Costco and never looked back.
So, here I am writing this review only because I tried a different auto buying program through AAA. I also started digging around on different experiences with auto buying programs through the web. Many expressed mixed feelings and similar experiences with the Costco program.
However, when I used the AAA - it was very clear cut. It outlined all of the incentives and what I will be paying for an exact car at 3 different dealerships in my surrounding areas PRIOR to me submitting my personal information. Further, AAA allows you to make the initial contact to the dealer vs. AAA chose the dealership for you and made them contact you first. I am very comfortable with this method. As far as pricing is concerned, many of those reviewers stated that the program can be beneficial and the amount is probably off give/take by a few hundred dollars. And, to me that's worth the difference. I refuse to waste 12 hours at a dealership and still feeling like I'm getting ripped off when I leave.
So my car shopping journey continues. I really would love to hear your thoughts if you have or know of someone who have experienced using the auto program whether through Costco, AAA or other companies.