Category ArchiveShopping

Automobiles & Shopping 11 Dec 2006 05:18 pm

Racism in Car Buying

Car Shoppers

James Joyner gets into a debate between The Tipping Point and Blink author Malcolm Gladwell and Steve Sailer over why black car buyers end up paying more. Joyner summarizes:

Gladwell believes it is obviously evidence of “unconscious racism” whereas Sailer argues that it is much more likely that car salesmen have learned over time that they can get more money on average out of blacks and women and therefore are discriminating against them as suckers, not out of bias.

Joyner then quotes economist Robert Stonebraker with a possible explanation:

While dealers and/or salespeople may know little or nothing about a particular customer, they know quite a bit about statistical differences among races and genders. They know that women and African-Americans typically enter the showroom with less information and less proclivity to bargain. Although white males often salivate at the chance to lock horns with car dealers in a bargaining struggle, females and African-Americans may be unaware that bargaining is even possible. Ayres and Siegelman cite a Consumer Federation of America survey that discovered that many female respondents, and more than one-half of African-American respondents, believed that sticker prices were non-negotiable.3

Armed with such knowledge, salespeople will rationally adopt a more stubborn stance while bargaining with female and African-American customers. Their stern posture may not be the result of bigotry, but the results are the same. Women and non-whites pay more.

I’m very hesitant to go to car dealers. The extent of my knowledge of them entails how to drive it (automatic only), where to put the gas, and where to put the oil. That’s it. So I’d be very cautious going to a dealer without someone knowledgeable at my side. That’s, of course, after I spent oodles of time researching cars. I don’t want to haggle so my last purchase was through someone who could get me a car from an auction. eBay would be a possibility as long as I could get the car checked out a mechanic before taking it. I like the idea of bidding up to my price ceiling instead of trying to force a dealer to come down. I am interested in places like CarMax where haggling isn’t involved. All I want is to buy the car not turn into a game where in the back of my mind I think I’m getting fleeced.

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Shopping 11 Dec 2006 03:34 pm

Be Careful When Shopping for Gray Market Merchandise

Beware of Gray Market

USA Today warns shoppers to beware of who they’re buying stuff from:

Spot an amazing deal on a digital music player, camera or other electronic product online this holiday?

Be careful: Some sites sell imported models with no warranties. And some manufacturers are striking back by refusing to service unauthorized imports.

The battle is over the growing “gray market,” says Steve Salter, a vice president at the Better Business Bureau OnLine. Many manufacturers tweak their prices from country to country, based on currency fluctuations and what the market will bear. Gray-market resellers snap up goods in cheap countries, often in Asia, and resell them in pricier markets for a profit.

Some good advice I use is to go with online companies with long histories (even if the internet has been mainstream for not so long) like and Also consider an online store with a bricks and mortar place. Talking to a real person face-to-face can solve a problem. When considering bidding on something on eBay look at the seller’s ranking and check out their feedback. Even still you could stumble on a crook with a marvelous reputation. So find out what kind of protections your credit card company gives you.


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