Byline: JOHN HIELSCHER
CORRECTION: The following correction was published on Tuesday, May 11, 1999: * Expert Auto Consultants Inc. is the name of Tony Langenderfer's business. Because of a reporter's error, an incorrect name appeared in Sunday's Business & Money section.
Stockbroker Vikki Ciotti needed a new car, but she dreaded the task of finding the right one and then haggling for the best deal.
"Most car salesmen, in my experience, haven't got a clue what women look for in a car," Ciotti said. "They either don't ask or don't listen.
"In my opinion, when women purchase a car, they have a conception that they've been screwed. They're not sure by how much, but they know they've lost," she said.
Enter Tony Langenderfer, an auto consultant in Sarasota.
For a fee, he did much of the shopping leg work for Ciotti, narrowed her choices to eight cars and spent a Saturday test driving them with her.
Ciotti, who'd given her 9-year-old Honda Accord to a family member, finally settled on a black Lexus GS300. Langenderfer then negotiated the purchase with the dealer.
"I always hated the negotiating part," said Ciotti, a financial consultant with A.G. Edwards & Sons in Venice. "Tony saved me $3,500, which I like in my pocket better than theirs."
Many consumers are intimidated by the complexity of today's cars and the buyer-beware nature of the car-buying business. Surveys show that car buyers often quickly regret the deal they made - not necessarily over the car they acquired but over the feeling that they paid too much for it. …