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Test Drive Promotions Worth It?
Car dealerships are up there on my list of least favorite places to visit ever. I should say I actually do enjoy cars and love to see them up close in showrooms and elsewhere, but I don’t quite understand how the process of buying a car from a shady salesman has remained largely unchanged over the years.
Anyway, these days I don’t often walk onto a dealership lot without having an agreed upon deal. I say don’t often because there is one way to get me to go to a car lot when I’m not actually going to walk out with a car. I admit that I’m a sucker for a nice lucrative test drive promotion!
I have written about prior test drive experiences including where I earned AAdvantage miles for test driving a Cadillac. I love these promos and a little over a week ago a similar (now expired) one surfaced. This time Cadillac was giving a $100 Ticketmaster voucher for test driving a Cadillac XT4. Since I buy a lot of tickets for my business, turning that $100 into cash won’t be a problem.
I have found that we generally get a great value out of promotions like these, but here is the very simple way I evaluate them.
- How much time will it take including transportation time.
- How much value will I get.
For this deal I actually signed up my wife instead of myself due to scheduling conflicts. The dealership is 10 minutes by car (no freeways or traffic) from our house, plus I was figuring up to 40 minutes in the dealership including the drive. See my tips later for how you can keep that number down.
So for potentially one hour of her time my wife will get a Ticketmaster voucher. In this case I’ll consider that like cash because I have immediate purchases where I will save $100 because of this voucher. In other words it is directly convertible to cash for me, but your value would most likely be different.
To sum it up, we are looking at up to 1 hour of time for $100 in value. It isn’t a no-brainer, but the dealership’s very close and convenient location tip it over the edge.
To get this promotion, I scheduled a test drive via the promotion’s website. I made this appointment on February 20, 2019 and was given an appointment for February 27. Registering and scheduling the test drive were easy and of course Cadillac wasted no time marketing my email address almost immediately. Don’t use an address you care about! 🙂
The Test Drive
My wife headed to the dealership today to do her test drive and found a little surprise. The dealership somehow had her appointment down for a month from now. I confusingly sent her the email showing today’s date and she showed it to the salesman. He went away and came back a bit later with a question.
Their conversation went something like this:
- Salesman: When is your current lease up?
- Wife: Over the Summer.
- Salesman: Since you’re not buying today, are you sure you want to actually drive this car?
- Wife: Not really.
- Salesman: Okay I’ll mark you off in the system and you’re all set!
My wife was in the dealership for less than 20 minutes and she had successfully completed the promotion. The Ticketmaster code came within the hour.
Tips for Test Drive Promotions
Not all test drive promotions are created equal. At the very minimum you should start by determining how much value you need to receive out of a promotion like this.
Once you have deemed it valuable enough here are some other tips from my personal experience:
- Try to schedule the test drive during a very busy or a very slow time – Salespeople tend to get lazy when things are slow and don’t want to miss a sale when things are busy. During either circumstance they are less likely to want to deal with you.
- Let them know the truth – Make it clear that you are solely motivated by the promotion. Let them know you won’t be purchasing a car that day.
- Emphasize you have other things to do – Let them know that you are going to test drive and get out of there. The less they want to deal with you the better!
If you follow the advice above, you’ll end up with a promotion that is worth it and hopefully not much of a time commitment. Don’t be afraid to make them move everything along if they are being slow. Generally if you emphasize you aren’t buying then they won’t make you drive the car. My wife’s experience is actually far more common than you would expect.
Any time we can come out $100 ahead for 40 minutes worth of time then things are going fairly well. While this deal worked well for us, each test drive promotion is different and some will be better for you than others. We don’t do many of these, but when the value is there and the dealership is easy to get to, then why not?
Did you participate in this or another test drive promotion? Share your experiences and greatest test drive prize in the comments!
Miles to Memories has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Miles to Memories and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers.