Dealerships get bad press all the time. Heck my dealership has a whole list of people who hate us, 90% who never bought. The people who are happy, leave and you never hear from them again. So you are only getting a small sample. People are brave on the internet, you confront them and everything is peachy. Seems like you have read into the hype. The people that get the biggest discount are the people who are greatful and not jackasses about it. The guy who comes in, or cordial and has all the info in the world and is nice about it will get every penny from my dealership. The Asshat that walks in, thinks hes master negotiator almost always leaves either a loser or I take every penny I can from him.
Heres something from a sale person (me)
1) come in prepared, dont pretend you havent done any reseach, we know you have. If you have something specific in mind go straight to that. No reason to play shy its wastes your time.
2) Dont parachute in your trade. This is where everyone screws it up. If you work me to invoice, do you think Im going to give you anything more than wholesale on your car? Its math and its real easy to figure out. I dont have to hold any numbers to concrete. If you want the most for your trade, go to carmax and bring that with you. This gives a starting point.
3) Be nice. The guy or gal who wants to be a hard ass, we dont want your business. The person who is nice, that was easy to get what they wanted, and we know will reccomend us as well its all about surveys now will be the guys I work the hardest for. The person who is just arrogant the whole time that I get to the same price as the nice one but I know will burn my dealership becuase his shoe was not tied, hes not getting anything from me. Ive turned customers away at hello before.
4) Get everything in writting. Its not that we are sales people and make stuff up. If I help 10 customers a day and each one is a new story, new work, all new. Thats a ton of info to remember. If I owed you a car cover I promise 99% of sales people will forget as soon as your gone. Getting it in writting promises you, the manager, store owners its due to you and then theres no stress in getting what you were promised. I learned this early on and to this day it saves my butt everytime. Something so small as say an extra key fob holder dissapears as we start gathering info on the next customer.
5) Lastly, cash isnt king. Your cash is not what I want. I want interest points, I want flats from banks, I want that. My banks will pay me on your contract the same day you buy the car. Your "Im a cash buyer" just screams your wasting my time. The price depending on brand is usually better with financing becuase the bank expects you to pay the whole loan duration. You pay it off next week for all we care, but saying Im paying cash will not gain you any ground.
Be nice, smile, know what you want, know what you should pay. The internet hides nothing. Anyone can walk in today a buy any of my cars at cost and be my best friend in less than 30 minutes. Or you can come in spend 3 hours and never get to the price the nice guy who knew what he wanted came in and didnt have the horrors of a car dealership.
Also there are some old school car guys out there still, spikey hair, gel in hair, big watches. If one of those guys trys to help you, ask for someone else.