Car Dealers: Innocent, Delicate, Fragile Blossoms, Apparently

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Vision for Lincoln dealership in China

Vision for Lincoln dealership in China

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"We're not gonna take it any more!"

If you're of a certain age, that line likely brings back memories of a 30-year-old Twisted Sister song.

You might be less likely to think of it as the headline of an article about the hurt feelings of car dealers.

DON'T MISS: The Videos Car Dealers Hate: Is It 'Haggling' Or 'Negotiating'?

The article, published two weeks ago in trade journal Ward's Auto, expressed author Jim Ziegler's displeasure over a recent video by Edmunds.

That video ad had the temerity to suggest that being forced to haggle may not be entirely pleasant--or even logical--when buying consumer goods.

Cadillac dealership

Cadillac dealership

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The camera simply captured the reactions of (allegedly real) consumers at a supermarket as they're required to negotiate over the price of milk, vegetables, and other groceries when they reach the checkout counter.

It's worth noting that the body of the video never mentions cars or dealerships. The sole connection is the punchline: “You wouldn’t haggle for your groceries, so why do it when buying a car?"

Dealers went ballistic--to the point that not only did Edmunds pull its video, but all copies of it have now vanished from YouTube as well.

Then the National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) shot back with its own video, explaining why it's actually in car buyers' own best interests to be forced to negotiate when buying a car.

As for the article in question, author Ziegler describes himself as a "trainer, commentator and public speaker on dealership issues."

ALSO SEE: Car Dealers Fire Back: Why Negotiating Is Good For Car Buyers (Video)

(He includes in the article a video of himself singing the Twisted Sister lyrics, which we'll spare you.)

His real argument turns out to be with Edmunds, which he accuses of a long history of anti-dealer sentiment.

"Edmunds has a history of offensive anti-dealer content," Ziegler writes, "including the highly questionable 'Confessions of a Car Salesman' series of negative smear articles on its website for the last 15 years or so."

Rossi Honda dealership, Vineland, New Jersey

Rossi Honda dealership, Vineland, New Jersey

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Ziegler calls those articles "highly inflammatory" as well as "degrading to dealers." He does not attempt to rebut them, or indicate that any of their content is untrue.

But it's the language of the Edmunds ad that makes him truly angry. He maintains the very word "haggling" is "an insult" to dealers.

No doubt "negotiation" is a far more honorable term for the process of a buyer having to dicker with salespeople who sell many cars a month, and whose job it is to extract maximum profit from each sale.

Ziegler also promises "a growing dealer backlash against vendors that pander to the public by demeaning dealerships, then say they want to work with dealers."

MORE: Electric Car Buyers Slam Dealer Experience; Dealers Don't Like 'Em Either

That could apply not only to Edmunds, but to other third-party "lead generation" services (including the owner of this site's parent company, High Gear Media).

Once you read his plaint, it's more about Edmunds requiring dealers to provide customer information in exchange for leads they buy to reach car shoppers who've indicated they want to be contacted by a dealer.

Former Fisker of Bellevue, Washington, dealership, closed as of July 2013 [photo: Brian Henderson]

Former Fisker of Bellevue, Washington, dealership, closed as of July 2013 [photo: Brian Henderson]

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In other words, it's about the business terms--not about the supposed insults.

And like so many other authors on the dealership side, Ziegler fails to respond to the question raised by the ads that delicate, fragile, easily hurt dealers found so "offensive."

If so-called negotiating is that great for consumers, why do most car buyers (statistically) feel taken advantage of by dealers?

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