Hispanic Woman Quoted $6,000 More for Exact Same Truck

comparison of Jessica and Bianca's experiences shopping for the same truck

Have you ever felt you were discriminated against when shopping for a car?

Have you ever felt you were not given a good deal because you were not white or male?

If so, you are not alone.

I, Jessica Anvar, Founder and Managing Partner of Consumer Law Experts (aka the Lemon Law Experts), and Bianca Contreras, Intake Specialist at Consumer Law Experts, wanted to get first hand evidence of the frequently discriminatory practices that frustrate many consumers. We went to a local Chevy dealership and documented our experiences to help shed some light on the gender and racial discrimination that occurs all too often when shopping for a new car. The results are both shocking and sadly unsurprising.

Read about our experience below:

Shopping for a New Truck at an L.A. Chevy Dealership

Jessica

A few months ago, I went to a Chevrolet dealership in Los Angeles, California, with Eric Stotz, Chief Operating Officer of the Lemon Law Experts, to see about purchasing a 2019 Z71 red Chevrolet Silverado that was parked right outside the main entrance of the dealership. Eric is a 6’3” white male of average weight. I am a 5’3” white female of average weight. Eric was supposed to be my sidekick while I shopped for this truck. From as soon as we arrived to when we left the dealership, I was pretty much ignored with the sole focus being on Eric. The salesman was solely interested in what Eric had to say and couldn’t care less about my presence or questions. I was ignored when I would speak, and the salesman would direct his questions and focus to Eric and pretty much refuse to make eye contact with me.

Bianca

I am a 5’6” Hispanic female and a bit overweight. I went to the same Chevrolet dealership a few hours after Jessica and Eric and I inquired about the same 2019 Z71 red Chevrolet Silverado. From when I arrived until I left, I was not provided with respect or attention, I was ignored, and I was made to feel as if I was a nuisance. I left the dealership feeling terrible.

What Were the Initial Impressions at the Dealership?

Jessica

Eric and I arrived together at the dealership. We were immediately greeted by the receptionist. She was pleasant, friendly and receptive. She greeted both of us and made eye contact with both of us. She promptly summoned a salesman by the name of Jesse who offered both of us something to drink and started inquiring about what we were looking for. Jesse was eager to speak with Eric and find out what he was shopping for. Jesse kept directing his questions to Eric even after I made it a point to answer his questions.

Bianca

I entered the dealership and asked the receptionist if I could meet with a salesman to discuss the red Chevy truck parked right outside the dealership. The receptionist was neither friendly nor receptive. I waited for over 10 minutes until the receptionist called the salesman, Jesse, to come to the front and meet me. I was never offered anything to drink or offered a seat. When Jesse arrived, he seemed annoyed and not interested in assisting me.

How Seriously Did the Dealership Take Us?

Jessica

The dealership took Eric seriously, not me. I made it a point to answer all the questions asked by the salesman who kept redirecting the conversation to Eric. It was incredibly frustrating. I made it very clear that I was the one purchasing the truck, it was my credit that would be used, and that the truck would be registered to me. No matter how much I attempted to focus the discussion on me, the salesman kept redirecting the conversation and questions to Eric implying that it was Eric that would be furthering the deal and not me. After all my questions and me making it a point that I was the one interested in buying this truck, Jesse looked at Eric and asked him if he wanted to take the truck for a test drive. This made me very upset. I looked at Jesse and I told him straight to his face that I wanted to test drive it. In response, Jesse looked at Eric again and asked him a second time if he wanted to take it for a spin. At this point, I was mad!

Bianca

Definitely not! From the moment I walked in until I left, the dealership made me feel as if I was a nuisance and not worthy of their time. I asked specific and pointed questions about the truck and I would get one-word, short responses. Everyone there made me feel uncomfortable and bad. When I told Jesse I was interested in the 2019 red Z71 Silverado, he responded by saying I should consider the Colorado because it is smaller and less expensive. Jesse did not even run my credit or inquire what I do for a living. Rather, he assumed, based solely on my looks, that I could not afford the red Silverado and that I should look into a smaller and cheaper truck. I was incredibly offended!

What Kind of Deal Did They Offer on the 2019 Red Z71 Chevrolet Silverado?

Jessica

We inquired about a truck with the following specifications:
2019 Red Chevrolet Z71 Silverado
MSRP: $51,645

I told Jesse I want to consider a 5-year finance with $5,000 down.

Jesse asked if we own or lease any GM or non-GM vehicles that are registered to our home and that if we do, GM will give us a $2,000 rebate. He said he would speak with his finance manager and come back with some options.

Jesse was gone for less than 5 minutes. He returned with our options in writing. He presented us (mainly Eric) with the following options:

  • 5-year finance
  • $5,000 down payment
  • $6,000 in rebates
  • Rebates reduce MSRP to $45,645
  • $751 / month

Bianca

I inquired about the same truck with the following specifications:
2019 Red Chevrolet Z71 Silverado
MSRP: $51,645

I told Jesse I want to consider a 5-year finance with $5,000 down.

Jesse was gone for approximately 20 minutes. I was getting anxious waiting for him as it appeared to take him a long time. He returned and verbally told me my options, which were:

  • 5-year finance
  • $5,000 down payment
  • No rebates
  • No reduction of the MSRP
  • $985 / month

Jesse never asked me if I had any GM or non-GM vehicles registered to my home. I asked him if there were any incentives, rebates or possible MSRP reductions. He answered no to all of these.

Did the Dealership Follow Up?

Jessica

When we left, Eric and I both gave Jesse our contact information. For about 3 weeks after our visit, Eric received multiple phone calls from Jesse and other dealership personnel checking in to see if he was still interested in the truck. I did not receive any phone calls or follow up.

Bianca

Before I left the dealership, I gave Jesse my contact information. I never received any follow up of any kind.

One Data Point for a Chronic Problem

Based almost entirely on the biases of a single salesperson, and a system of obtuse pricing that allows for easy discrimination between perceived classes of customers, two identical attempts to purchase the same vehicle resulted in a $6,000 price difference. The resulting difference in monthly payments was $234, or over 30% more than what I was quoted.

Beyond that, even though I had a significantly better experience than Bianca, I was continuously marginalized in favor of my male counterpart. Despite making it very clear I was the one who would be making this purchase, it was abundantly clear what the hierarchy was within this specific dealership.

Having conducted one other experiment so far, I can confidently say that this practice is far too common, and as much as it would be nice to pretend this is one “bad apple,” the industry is setup in a way that allows for discrimination to frequently fly under the radar.

Most consumers distrust the car purchasing process, but can rarely assign a number to their mistreatment. In Bianca’s case, we actually did. Based on appearance, race, and gender, she lost $6,000 and was treated as a nuisance rather than a customer.

Although I walked away with a more favorable quote for the truck, it’s still a sad day when even a female attorney is continuously ignored in favor of her male companion.

Hopefully continuing to highlight this type of discrimination will help bring about change in an industry that is to frequently run by men and for men.