Overstock.com Getting Into the Car Business?

Overstock.com Getting Into the Car Business?

This morning, we got an automated Email from Overstock.com advertising their “Lowest Price Guarantee” car-buying service. Does this mean they are keeping huge fleets of cars somewhere? Not exactly. Overstock is a widely-known service that helps retail outlets and manufacturers of consumer goods liquidate excess inventory by offering it online, and they have just extended this model to cars as well. Is there a catch? Of course there is.

Using Overstock.com’s search tool, you can look for new cars and used cars in your area with a few mouse clicks. These cars come from local dealerships, not Overstock itself, and certain dealerships have been certified to offer the “Lowest Price Guarantee,” which is basically $300-500 over invoice. Overstock sends these dealerships business, and in turn the dealerships offer their “lowest price.” Now, we all know that in many cases, like an excess of inventory, a good negotiator can get a car below invoice, especially leftover models such as the 2010 Mustang GT, or recently discontinued cars¬† like the Pontiac G8, which saw base models sitting on dealer lots for months, eventually being sold at a big loss (and a big gain for the customer). The bottom line is, none of this really adds up to excess inventory, just a general agreement to offer a good price with no haggling.

There’s also the “Clearance Lot” section, which is exactly what it sounds like. Cars are marked down to $100 over invoice, but it’s only the “deal of the month” that gets any real-world savings.¬† So, one specific model, in one specific trim, for the whole month. Ironically, today’s “deal of the month” is the RWD Toyota Sequoia. In the last few days, Toyota’s largest SUV has been surrounded by rumors of extinction, so it’s not surprising Overstock has it in the Clearance section.

We did say there is a catch, and there is: after shopping around through Overstock’s site, you still have to contact a dealership yourself, and deal with salesmen and managers when you get there. They will still try to sell you all the dealer add-ons that make them the most profit. And you still have to work out financing through the dealership (or independently).

The bottom line is, this service is really only for people that don’t have the first clue how to negotiate for a car. But I can get the Enzo Angiolini “Beehive” Stilletos for just $34.99. So that’s something.