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Car dealers outraged by Edmunds' haggling ads

Edmunds.com, the car research site, releases amusing ads that show a supermarket checkout clerk haggling. Dealers force the site to remove the ads, saying car dealers don't haggle anymore.

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A scene from an Edmunds.com ad mocking haggling. Which never happens at car dealers. AdAge screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

The world has changed.

Lawyers no longer enjoy making money. Burglars just do it for the fun and will always return everything they've taken. And car dealers don't haggle.

I must confess that this last one I definitely didn't know. But the information emerges from an unholy spat that has occurred between certain auto dealers and car-shopping research site Edmunds.com.

The site prides itself on presenting post-haggle prices. I know this because, just now, I looked and the main headline on the home page read: "Get the post-haggle price."

Pressing hard on the logic button above my left eyebrow, I deduced that this was a contrast to, say, car dealers who enjoy befuddling the innocent and rubbing their hands with glee after winning yet another round of I Am Marvin Haggler.

Supporting this logic were amusing YouTube ads released by Edmunds. They showed a grocery store checkout clerk attempting to haggle with entirely real, innocent customers.

Yes, he even uses the phrase: "What would I have to do to get you to take these cans away today?" The cans were presumably full of something like tuna. The poor customers all look entirely bemused to the point of annoyance, something that never happens at car dealers.

The idea, of course, was to suggest that if you wanted to be free of such behavior you should rely on help from Edmunds.

There was one section of humanity that didn't find the ads funny. Oddly enough, it was car dealers.

As AdAge reports, some were so strangely direct about their complaints that Edmunds.com took the ads down. Its president Seth Berkovitz even declared that the ads had "missed the mark." He added that the ads "reinforced outdated stereotypes."

I find myself making involuntary gurgling noises when I read the objections of Jeff Wyler, CEO of Wyler Automotive Group in Cincinnati, Ohio. He told AdAge that he was removing his company's ads from Edmunds.

He explained: "Negotiating prices on cars has always been expected by the consumer and having it referred to as 'haggling' by a company that I am a customer of is insulting."

Oh, it's negotiating. It isn't haggling at all. Hell hath no fury like a car dealer insulted.

I have contacted Edmunds to ask whether the site didn't realize that haggling was no more. I also asked whether it now knows in which year haggling ceased.

I would like to commemorate the date. (I will update, should I hear, so that you can commemorate it too.)