ADM serves Car Dealers, Automotive Marketing Pros and Internet Sales Managers
Q: Why Does this Shirt Cost More to Clean than that One?
A: Because it belongs to a woman. Over the course of your lifetime, you'll pay more than a man for everything from health insurance to haircuts, dry cleaning to deodorant. Here's how businesses get away with sex discrimination, and what you can do to stop it
This tidbit opens an article in the recent issue of Marie Claire magazine entitled, "Why Women Pay More," written by Lea Goldman. It raises the question of why women shell out over $1,000 per year more than men do on the very same things.
The portion of the article that caught my eye pertains to dealerships, of course. Apparently, dealerships are also guilty of charging women more for cars than they do men. And if you are a woman of color, you can plan on paying even more than that white woman who's sitting at the next desk with a salesperson. This evidence of gender pricing is based on research done by Yale Law School professor, Ian Ayres. His original research began 20 years ago, but he has updated it two times and found the same results--women routinely pay more for men for the same things. Goldman states,
But even if you're prepared to bargain, the odds are still stacked against you. Twenty years ago, Ayres published a landmark study proving that women got hosed at car dealerships. (The study has since been twice updated, with similar results.) On average, women were offered list prices $200 higher than prices quoted to white men. (Black women fared even worse — they were quoted prices $400 higher.) Ayres argued that women who pay inflated prices are so lucrative to dealerships, and account for such a huge chunk of commissions, that dealers are willing to let savvier customers go just to court these customers. Let's say you're the rare female buyer who actually does her homework. You walk onto the car lot confident and informed, asking all the right questions. The salesman will probably still offer you a lousy deal. "That's the perversity of it: He may be willing to sacrifice your sale in order to charge higher prices to all women, just to make sure he doesn't miss any home runs," explains Ayres. "It's a search for suckers."
Now, before everyone gets their panties in a twist and blasts off comments about the inappropriateness of my blog postings and my troubled relationship with men, let me share an experience with you that I feel backs up Ayres research. Unlike Grant Cardone's wife, I always take my husband with me to buy cars. Why, you ask?? Even though I proudly wear my feminist label, I still admit that I know less about buying cars than someone on the inside does, so I realize that the Marie Claire article isn't referring to women in the car business. Only us lowly non-car women who tend to clump all car people into the same file as Becky Quick.
I went to a Honda dealership and made sure the salesperson dealt specifically with me. That is, until we walked into the showroom and the number crunching song and dance began. Then I was smart enough to turn things over to THE WHITE CAR GUY I married. All I know about car pricing comes from what I see advertised. But the intricate song and dance that began between the car salesperson and my husband, was such a beautiful sight to see. In fact, you could say that the car salesperson was Fred Astaire, and my husband was Ginger Rogers. But before you laugh at this analogy, remember, that Rogers role was much more noteworthy, because she did everything Astaire did, but she did it backwards and in heels.
Every month, nearly every auto company offers different promotions, but the average Joe Blow isn't aware of this. Entering a Honda dealership as a brown-skinned Juanita Blow, I didn't know this either. So I would surmise that this is the first place where dealerships can take advantage of someone who doesn't have all of the information they need to make a better deal for themselves. My husband looked up Honda's current contests and incentives to see if the factory was offering any lease promotions on the model I chose. It turns out that there were some incentives. These involved mileage restrictions and other mileage-based packages, but I didn't know what my husband and the salesperson were hashing out. There were also some number differences based on leather interior vs. cloth interior, blah, blah, blah. I tried keeping up with the song and dance, but I let myself go back to being the wallflower, because what I was witnessing was priceless. I enjoyed watching my husband do his song and dance with a salesperson who seemed to be very surprised that Mr. Blow knew the lingo!
I think it would be fair to say that sales people are in it for the money (and I'm not saying this is a bad thing), so they are paying less attention to working the numbers in favor of their less-informed customers than they are in paying attention to their own commissions. After he and my husband finished what to me was an intricate and complicated negotiation, I ended up paying well below the original offer the salesperson placed in front of me. That is why this proud educated feminist will never enter a dealership without her husband! He's not a sucker! He has the same information the salesperson has, so he makes sure I get the best deal! Feminist or not, I want to save money, and I don't want to be taken advantage of just because I'm not aware of all the incentives and deals available to the me or the dealership, like, "I know you need to sell X number of cars this month, so take $400 off the sticker price for me so I can help you make your quota!"
And information is why salespeople can charge women (and other less-informed people) more for cars than men. This is why Edmunds, True Car, and Kelly Blue Book exist, but you even have to be able to access their information in order to do well. And that information costs money, so people who have less to spend on information are out of luck. Only certain people are given access to proprietary information. But even these services can't change the fact that "searching for suckers" is worked into pay plans that are designed to take advantage of people who have less information than people in the business do.
But this doesn't explain why I pay more to get my dry shirts cleaned than my husband does!!