Getting Personal Help

Would you like to avoid aggressive auto dealership sales tactics? Are you concerned about your ability to go toe-to-toe with a salesperson who might negotiate five deals a day? Do you think it would be valuable to have a support company handle all the details and paperwork involved in the lease or purchase of a late model vehicle? If so, you might be interested in a new wrinkle on the decades-old “auto broker,” the “personal shopper.”

One such service is Russell Auto Buying, a five-year-old enterprise that prides itself on its white-glove service. It boasts customers from Maine to Florida.

“We are essentially a concierge service for prospective car buyers of mid-priced [$35,000] and higher cars,” said Russell Levine, president of Russell Auto Buying. “Plus, we offer ultracompetitive prices. For example, we typically save customers $25 to $75 per month on leases.”

Personal attention to the car buyers’ needs is a personal shopper’s calling card.  Typically shoppers draw upon their expertise in the dealer community and in auto financing to help customers select the most suitable make and model. They then obtain the vehicle for the buyer at a price many claim is below what a dealer would charge, handle the purchase red tape and deliver it personally to their doorstep.

“Many of our clientele know exactly which car they want. Others rely on us to make recommendations,” said Levine. “They come to Russell Auto Buying because they are fed up with high-pressure sales tactics and prefer an independent company that will put their satisfaction above all else. What they get is the car they really want and need at a price not offered by dealerships, which is why the great majority of our customers have always been repeat buyers.”

Once a purchase price or lease agreement is established, personal shoppers like Russell Auto Buying handle all the paperwork. Very often the personal shopper delivers the car to the buyer wherever they might be in the United States. Some potential customers might be concerned about getting their vehicles serviced after the sale, but all vehicles purchased in this manner can be serviced at any dealership representing the brand. 

What are the downsides of using a personal shopper? One potential pitfall is that, like auto brokers, personal shoppers need and deserve to be paid for their efforts. That means if you have hard-nosed negotiating skills and some time to devote to the vehicle purchase process, you might be able to find a better deal than the personal shopper will make for you. So don’t simply put yourself in a personal shopper’s hands and expect to get the deal of a lifetime. Do some homework to make certain the deal the personal shopper is offering you is a good one.

If you’re busy or just don’t want to go through the time and hassle of buying a vehicle from a dealership, you might find a personal shopper to be valuable, even if you have to pay a little more for the service. And many personal shoppers/auto brokers have connections that can indeed save you money. But as always, look before you leap.