July 21, 2011, 2:47 PM

Putting the pedal to the m-commerce metal

Can you buy a car with a mobile phone? I’ll find out.

Lead Photo

A scan of the Quick Response code on the window sticker revealed a lower price for the car.

The advent of the Internet changed how consumers buy cars. Now, the mobile phone, at least in my experience, is about to follow that road, potentially providing consumers with more power to negotiate car prices.

While looking over several models at the dealer’s lot this week, I read the window stickers looking for features, mileage and price. All pretty standard stuff. After a few cars, I noticed something different about some stickers. Some had the Quick Response variant of a 2-D bar code printed on the sticker. Curious to see what happened when scanned, I opened a scanning app on my iPhone and captured the code.

I was pleased the code did not just create a mobile version of the sticker I could see plastered on the car window. What showed up was a new sticker with a price about $600 less than the one on the car. Wow, I thought to myself that gives me a lower price to start negotiating from.

I called over the salesman and showed him the price difference. “I’ve never seen anyone use that before,” he said when I told him I scanned the code. He excused himself to check with his manager about the scan and the price difference. When he returned, he said nothing about the price difference, so it must have been a valid price.

I scanned the QR codes on a few other cars and test drove a few more that evening. All I could think about was choosing the right car, ensuring it had a QR code, and negotiating an even lower price than the sticker.

Why would a car dealer give the car shopper a lower price than one the salesman thinks the car is priced at? I don’t know, but mobile commerce technology sure gave me more confidence to negotiate the price.

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