SURVEYED CAR CUSTOMERS SAY THEY PAY TOO MUCH IN TIME AND MONEY

Americans may be in love with their cars, but they're far less enamored of shopping for them.That's the overriding con-clusion of the just-released CarsDirect.com Car Buying Survey, which polled 1,000 Americans to uncover how they felt about their most recent car-buying experience.Dissatisfaction is widespread: almost 36% of the respondents said they paid too much for the vehicle; 28% said they spent

Americans may be in love with their cars, but they're far less enamored of shopping for them.

That's the overriding con-clusion of the just-released CarsDirect.com Car Buying Survey, which polled 1,000 Americans to uncover how they felt about their most recent car-buying experience.

Dissatisfaction is widespread: almost 36% of the respondents said they paid too much for the vehicle; 28% said they spent too much time on the purchasing process; and 24% didn't get exactly the color or options they wanted.

Car shoppers also lamented that they "didn't understand the financing terms" (9%) and "waited too long for delivery" (6%).

The survey contained its share of revealing insights:

Women proved to be less confused by financing terms than men; married people are more attuned to - and turned off by - the time-consuming nature of car shopping than singles; the higher the level of education, the less satisfying consumers find the traditional car-buying process; and, Gen X stereotypes aside, younger car shoppers are willing to forgo options and indulgences in the cars they buy.

"For many people, buying a car is an ordeal," says Scott Painter, CEO of CarsDirect.com, the Internet car company, which commissioned Market Facts to conduct the survey.

CarsDirect.com lets on-line consumers research, price, select, finance, order and take delivery of a new vehicle.

A demographic breakdown of survey respondents provides further clues about car-buying concerns:

* Men and women (36.3% vs. 36% respectively) are almost equally likely to believe they paid too much for their last car. Men are slightly more likely to express frustration with time spent on the buying process (30% vs. 26%), but women are more than twice as likely to say that delivery took too long (9% vs. 3.5%).

* Men are twice as likely to be confused by financing terms as women (8% vs. 4%).

* Married folks are far more likely to complain about the time spent with the process than did single people (33% vs. 21%).

Age, likewise, plays a role: Respondents in the 55-64 age group are most likely to have concerns about price (45.5%), but they were least likely to worry about the time spent buying a car (13%).

The most impatient car buyers are those in the 25-to-34 group (40%), but the youngest buyers, aged 18-24, are most likely to end up with a car without the features and options they wanted (36%).

Car-buyers with the highest incomes (more than $75,000) complained most about the amount of time buying a car takes (39.5%). Those with the lowest incomes didn't worry about time as much (16%).

Education matters, too: The higher the degree of education, the less the respondents feel they paid too much (27% for post-graduates, 34% for college and 42% for high school or less).

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