Japanese used car dealers' quirks
Japanese dealers on the whole are like used car dealers in any country, however there are some quirks and unexpected things which one comes across from time to time. Common examples are:
- Prices are typically not negotiable. Due to Japanese culture and the fact that we are not buying a car for use within Japan (more on that later) prices are normally not negotiable. There are exceptions and it doesn't hurt to try, but most of the time it is not possible so don't expect it, and when prices are negotiable it is usually only by relatively small amounts.
Some dealers do not like selling cars for export. For J-Spec to buy a car for export is different to a dealer than if they were selling it to a local Japanese buyer, and part of this is why prices are usually not negotiable (though there are also cultural reasons). In Japan when a dealer sells a car to a local buyer they often on-sell a variety of services such as helping with registration and related paperwork, performing regular servicing of the car, taking care of recycling paperwork if necessary, fitting aftermarket parts such as navigation systems, and so on. When selling a car for export the dealer misses out on all of these opportunities to make additional money, since we simply take the car and send it overseas, and that's why selling a car to us for a dealer can be less desirable.
Furthermore, it is not uncommon for locals in Japan to be loyal to a particular dealer, and so in several years time they might sell the same car back to the dealer and will buy another car from them, so again this is additional business which the dealer loses out on if the car is exported. As an example of this, J-Spec has bought cars from a dealer who have sold, bought and re-sold the same car up to 4 times previously, as they were a specialty store.
- Dealer helpfulness will vary wildly, due to the points above. Some dealers are as you would expect and are happy to give good information about a car, take photos, carry out basic requested checks and so on, however some are unwilling to do much if a car is for export and in some cases will refuse to sell a car to a non-local, period. As such while the information J-Spec can get about a car from a dealer is usually good, there will be some rarer circumstances where the details are basic and (very frustratingly) dealers are not willing to make any effort to give us additional information about a car. As a rule, however, this is not very common.