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The automobile salesperson is one of many sales professions. The automobile salesman is a retail salesperson, who sells new and/or used cars. Unlike traditional retail sales, car sales are sometimes negotiable. Salesmen are employed by new car dealerships or used car dealerships.
The price of a car, unlike many retail sales, is often negotiable. New cars will often have a factory window sticker listing equipment and options, and the suggested retail price. With the prevalence of the internet, and third party information sites, the profit of dealers has dropped dramatically since prices are widely advertised and best discounts are given to remain competitive. The salesman is paid a commission, rarely a fixed salary but usually based on a percentage of profit, so a deeply discounted price results in a very low commission for the salesman.
The automobile salesman, particularly the used car salesman, has often been a source of characters, often negative, in movies and television shows and cartoons. History and fairy tales often characterize peddlers (people selling goods) as negative influences, or outsiders out to take advantage of people. It is a very common theme for the ‘used car salesman’ to be cast as a shyster in popular culture.
- In the Muppet Movie, Milton Berle plays Mad Man Mooney.
- In Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, Leonard Stone plays Mr. Beauregarde, Violet Beauregarde's father.
- In Fargo, William H. Macy plays Jerry Lundegaard, a salesman at an Oldsmobile dealership in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
- In Used Cars, Kurt Russell plays a slick used car salesman and wannabe politician named Rudy Russo.
- In Suckers, a movie humorising automotive dealerships and salesmen.
- In The Big Steal, Steve Bisley plays a used car salesman.
- In True Lies, Bill Paxton portrays a used car salesman who pretends to be a spy to seduce bored housewives.
- In Fast Lane Daily, Bob Shubin Jr. is a used car salesman who appears on occasion. He's best known for singing "Hey, How Bout a Deal!?"
- In Matilda, Danny DeVito portrays an unscrupulous used car salesman named Harry Wormwood.
- In Cadillac Man, Robin Williams portrays a used car salesman.
- In Three's Company, Larry Dallas is a used car salesman.
- In EastEnders, Roy and Barry Evans, Kevin and David Wicks, Bradley and Max Branning, Frank Butcher, Darren Miller and Arthur "Fatboy" Chubb, Have all at some stage portrayed car salespeople.
- In the Seinfeld episode "The Dealership," Jerry attempts to buy a new car from David Puddy due to the "insider" deal Jerry would get from being friends with Puddy's girlfriend, Elaine. Puddy and Elaine have a fight at the dealership, leading Puddy to backtrack on his discounts and start charging Jerry for miscellaneous "extras." Jerry, frustrated, tries to reconcile Elaine and Puddy so he can get the insider discount again.