USAA Car buying service painful, I'm not convinced I would have been worse off just walking into the dealership.

I just helped my son, who is also a USAA member, buy a new car.  As many others have commented, the biggest shock from using the USAA car buying service was the number of contacts we received from disparate car dealerships, some of which were considerable distances from my son's home (nearly 200 miles).  The dealership closest to his home contacted him through several methods, using different "Sales Managers" names.  In order to qualify for the USAA .5% discount, we read on the USAA site that we had to communicate through the dealer representative who had contacted us.  Amazingly, when my son contacted the dealership contact he received texts from he was told "she no longer works here", but when I called the dealership to talk to the "Sales Manager" on one of the e-mails, the person who answered the phone was the person who had texted my son, and she told me the "Sales Manager" I was looking for no longer worked at the dealership.  Of note, my wife found this "Sales Manager" on Facebook, and his profile stated he was still employed at the dealership.  But before I called the dealership using the phone number on their website, I called the phone number on the e-mail, 833-693-5066.  It turns out this is not the number for the dealership, but rather takes you to a semi-automated marketing site trying to plug medical alert devices, dish network, cable tv services, and Walmart gift cards.


My son ended up buying the car, and was given the price quoted by the car buying service, but only after considerable back and forth between him, numerous dealership employees, and myself.  We now have to wait until the payments for the car start to see if USAA will honor the .5% interest rate discount, I will update this post when I know whether or not this occurs.

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As a follow up, I need to correct one claim in my earlier post, and also need to state that it appears we received the .5% discount on the loan.


1.  On follow up discussion with my son, he stated that he wasn't told the woman who contacted him from the dealership no longer worked there, but rather she was not working at the time he went to the dealership (although she did answer the phone when I called while he was there).

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@Racy Red SX, Thank you for reaching out. I'm saddened to learn that your son's car buying experience was painful. This is certainly not the experience we want for our members. I appreciate your detailed account of the experience, and I will share this experience with the appropriate team for review. ~DC

I believe you are addressing the "new" process that USAA believes provides the same benefits as the "old" process where a team at USAA pre-negotiated prices for USAA's former valued customers.  I specifically stated "former valued customers", because I went through something similar to you and your son's experience.  by the way - a couple of months ago, I have shared this same suggestion with USAA over the phone and it was to be forwarded to management for review.   As you can see the "new" process stinks and USAA managers that support it should be fired or re-assigned!  One of the folks from USAA that I talked with on this subject admitted he had a similar bad experience with the new process.  Wake up to your customers demands USAA!  Please do not. Claim to have our best interests in mind with this terrible, lousy, ineffective, frustrating and discouraging "lack of" car buying service!

My story - In April 2019, I go thru the USAA online car buying process and get to the end, and USAA sends my car requirements to three nearby dealers.  At that point, the old horse race began, with every phone call, or email from the dealerships acting like they did not know what of my specific car requirements or pricing info!!  I cinched up my saddle and played the "let's make a deal" process totally generated by me!  I contacted five dealers to obtain best price on a Ford F-250, that I would be ordering.  Turns out the F250's do not offer $10,000+ off MSRP, like the F150's!  On the Friday night drive up to Atlanta (100 miles each way) to sign the paperwork and ordering our F250 at Mall of Georgia Ford in Atlanta, my beloved wife, asked me if I had contacted Ford dealer in Perry, GA.  Since I had not, I called them to keep this wonderful woman happy and gave them two hours to beat Mall of Georgia's price, which was about $6K under MSRP.  We drove over to the Ford dealer in Perry on Saturday and entered our order into the FORD application.  Truck came in four weeks later!

When I called USAA about the .5% discount on loan rate, they said they could not honor it because I had ordered this truck from a non-USAA dealer.  Two things: 1. I was informed by USAA dealers pay an annual fee to be on their list of approved dealers, 2. USAA will not apply the .5% discount until after the last payment on the loan.

Summary - to USAA customers - don't waste your time with their useless car buying service!  To USAA - suck up the additional cost of having a team of negotiators that we the customer "loved" with the old process!  Your commitment to the company's P&L should not be affected dramatically by hiring a few team members to perform this important process for the thousands of customers that have used the "old" system and were highly satisfied!  I remember this exchange with a Toyota dealer when we were "in the hunt" for a new car in July 2011:  Me: "Will you honor the USAA price for this car"?  Sales Rep:  "Yes, but we will lose money on the deal"!  This dealer comment was obviously not true and was music to my ears!

IF enough customers complain to USAA about their lousy car buying service, perhaps management will agree to hire the new car negotiators and return to their "old" system, which thousands of customer had used and loved?

P.S. USAA - please do not respond with, "we will send this note to management".  Expected response is:  "Suggestion was forwarded to management and here is their response"!  IF they say, USAA cannot afford the "old" process, please provide the "old" process' impact on ROS, ROI, PBT, or any other financial metric.

Haze Gray & Underway - I understand the seriousness of the situation. I have located your information and will engage a specialist to review the details. Thank you for speaking up today. - Jason

Just another example of the "Stuart Parker Effect".  He needs to resign.

I, too, remember USAA basically pre-negotiated the price for you on their Car Buying Service several years ago. I didn't need a car at that time, but as I may be moving into a better job soon, I may start looking in 4-5 months.


The service as it appears to be now, isn't anything like the old service, and I think I may be better off not even trying to use it, based on many recent reviews I've read.


I'm coming up on 20 years being with USAA (with many before that under my parents' policies), and I *LOVE* their service - banking, investing, insurance - A1, love it.


It's sad though, when I'd rather not even try one of their services, not only due to negative reviews, but also knowing that the process is completely different now as well. Please go back to the "USAA negotiates on their customers' behalf", and I'll be right there.



Hello @BuayaGuy, thank you for reaching out to us today. I regret to hear of the concerns you have with us, was there any questions that you maybe needed to have answered? -Emily

Hi Emily, 


From what I've read, it looks like you basically switched from your own car buying service specifically to TrueCar. I went and checked TrueCar's FAQ page, and they basically say: "The result: consumers and dealers now have a guide that helps them establish a baseline of trust and agree on the parameters of a fair deal."


Is this negotiating the price for the customer?


What's really warning me away is seeing how I can't get any kind of real pricing without giving my phone number and email out to the local dealers - *immediately*. The negative reviews I've read (specifically about USAA's version of the TrueCar service), is that as soon as you send this information in, many dealers start contacting you about buying a car, and from the sound of it, they don't really give up. Sounds like you shouldn't do this unless you're ready to buy the car NOW.


I'd like more information about the program, and at least some idea of what I might be paying for the real model car I'm looking at without being hounded by dealers looking for the sale. Like I said, I'm probably nearly half a year out from even starting to seriously be in the market, but the way the program seems to be structured now, I can't get even most of the information I'm looking for without having to deal with the car dealerships at some level.






Edit: Here's the original post I had found, with multiple people saying that the dealers are contacting people all the time. One user even said TrueCar is basically just generating leads for dealerships:[removed sensitive data]

@BuayaGuy, USAA has a unique partnership with TrueCar, who owns and operates the Car Buying Service website.

True Car allows members to research new car prices and sales history data such as:

  • MSRP (Sticker Price)
  • USAA Program Price
  • Average Paid
  • Good Price
  • Great Price

True Car provides graphical data to outline prices that others paid for the same vehicle in the designated geographical region (local, regional, or national).


Also, Program Pricing is available in all states. Program Price is the MSRP less any incentives and dealer discounts. It doesn't include tax, title and license and any other applicable fees or any add-ons like window tinting or paint protection. - Ben

As a follow up, I need to correct one claim in my earlier post, and also need to state that it appears we received the .5% discount on the loan.


1.  On follow up discussion with my son, he stated that he wasn't told the woman who contacted him from the dealership no longer worked there, but rather she was not working at the time he went to the dealership (although she did answer the phone when I called while he was there).

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