The Wonderful World of Used-Car Buying in Slovakia

I have had the experience of purchasing a new vehicle in Slovakia with excellent treatment from the salon staff and owner.  However, when I sold the car over a year ago and decided to reduce the monthly budget and use public transportation, found out that it had been a very horrible choice.  So now, one year later, money in the bank and looking for now a larger used vehicle to transport the family across Slovakia and Europe in, has proven to be much harder than my last purchase.

Getting your used car might not be that easy (c) Thomas R Machnitzki

First off, we use every means possible to research all the vehicle available, or so we thought.  As we search online from website to website we keep getting directed to another site for more details of the vehicle.  One salon popping up more often than any other, AAA Auto.  As we search for the vehicle with the specification we desire we come to AAA Auto over and over.  It seems they have what we want and the prices seemed to be right where we expected to be.  So we book a test drive online and within 3 minutes receive a call from the “Manager” of AAA Auto to confirm our request.  The “Manager” explains to us that unfortunately the website is not updated frequently enough and the vehicle we desired to view and test-drive, was not in Bratislava, but in Banska Bystrica and if we wished to see it in Blava we would have to put a 100EURO deposit down in cash for them to deliver it.  Well, as there were many other options on the website for similar vehicles we decided to book another vehicle instead and see if this vehicle in BB would be an alternative choice.  We had our appointment set to see four vehicles on Saturday afternoon with the hope of favoring at least one.

We arrived to AAA Auto a little before the scheduled appointment and walked the lot to see what may have arrived and possibly not on the website.  Well, walking around the lot took but 5 minutes and we noticed that the selection was not the selection boasted by the website and in fact, we didn’t see any of the twelve or so vehicles we would consider that were listed on the website.  Confused by the immediate selection, I proceeded into the Showroom to the reception desk.  I was told by my wife I only needed to inform them I was present with my last name and phone number as reference.  Well, no one was sitting at the reception desk, so we waited for someone to  show up.  After about 5 or so minutes a gentleman came to the desk to check something on the computer and I announced my appointment.  He gave a grim look and took my information.  Clearly it was a task he did not want to perform, nor was he very quick to adjust to my Slovak pronunciations.  My colleague that joined me quickly picked up on the salesman’s confused look and repeated in native Slovak, with not much change in facial response.  After what seemed to be a few minutes he finally pulled up my information and looked at us to say that the vehicle we booked for a test drive was not here, but in Banska Bystrica.  This was information we already knew and this is why we booked a few other cars to view.  So we asked him about the other vehicles we saw on their website.  He stated to us that there was no other bookings and the vehicles we wished to see were not here as well, or had been sold recently.  A bit confused, as we were assured earlier that morning that the vehicles were on the lot by the “Manager”, we asked what vehicles were available with our specifications?  He told us he would check the database for vehicles and came up with a few vehicles, however, none that were even close to what we were interested in and none within Bratislava.  We asked if he could show us some vehicles that many suit or needs as we needed to purchase a vehicle.  He looked confused, as he had thought his job was over in telling us that they had no cars that were requested to see.  I shook my head and asked my colleague to come with me around the lot again to see if we overlooked something.  I would have thought as a salesman, the guy would have picked up on the “Buying Signals”, however he didn’t, not even a little.  So we walked out to the lot to once again try our luck at finding an alternative vehicle.  While out on the lot another salesman, in crossing the lot, asked if we needed any help? We said yes we would like some help, however, did they have anyone that could communicate in English as my Slovak is not at a mechanical or technical level to talk Shop.  He quickly got on the radio and found one person who could communicate in English, and you got it, the same salesman that helped us from the reception.  Two things ran through my head, we are not going to get anywhere here, and I guess they truly don’t want to sell me a car.  I explained to my colleague that I was sorry for wasting his time and for not accomplishing any of our tasks.  He said one thing, “this is Bratislava, and this is how it usually goes here”.  Shocked , I had to ask when we got to the car one thing, “what do you mean this is how it usually goes”.  So in short he replied, “the salesmen doesn’t care about selling you a car, it is their job to be here, not to do anything more than open a door and sit in the car during a road test. “  Totally confused about this, I got into a discussion of how things work in America, and the response was “yeah, we see that in the movies, but it just isn’t like that here”.

With a very disappointing experience at the Auto Salon, I just wanted to leave an go home, but as my colleague had made the trouble to join me for the search we decided to stop at a few other places to check out what they have to offer.  One after the next, closed on Saturday and Sunday.  I am so confused with this, as who has the ability to view, test-drive, or buy a car during normal working hours?  Anyone who can buy a car, has a job, at least this is what I thought.  Therefore why would any sales driven industry limit its sales time by not being open on Saturday or Sunday?    These are the busiest days for sales in the U.S., just ask any car salesman.  They will take off two days Monday – Friday and work their weekends.  This is how they make money, and get most of their sales and business.

My conclusion, Auto Salons don’t care about making a sale, they would rather have their time off during the weekend rather than make a good amount more sales.  So now I have to do what everyone has done with purchasing a vehicle here in Slovakia.  I will take a morning off work to go to an Auto Salon to test drive a vehicle I saw sitting on the lot over the weekend.  I hope that my journey will end there in search of a vehicle, as I can’t afford to take a full holiday to find a vehicle.  When I do find my new/used car I will be sure to write a nice letter to the owner and managers of AAA Auto, thanking them for their salesmen’s lack of interest in selling a car to me and that their guidance helped me to find another Auto Salon to purchase from.  I hear nothing but nightmare stories from all my colleagues about AAA Auto, and I must say, I will not have anything good to say about them either.  It makes me wonder how they can survive and who actually can or would purchase a vehicle from them?  I hope my search will end soon and I will manage to get a vehicle that will be reliable and what I need to haul my family around in.

By: Daniel Logan


  1. I had almost exactly the same experience as Daniel – AAA has a seeming monopoly on website traffic, none of the cars are where they say they are, the salespeople couldnt give a toss and everything takes forever. Yet, somehow, these guys sell cars like hot cakes. And I was looking for an automatic, which made things even harder!

  2. Well, turns out the kind gesture from AAA Auto’s Salesmen gave me the opportunity to find a vehicle parked on an acutal Auto Salon’s lot for sale just down the road. I took of Tuesday morning to go to test drive the vehicle I saw over the weekend parked on the lot. I was greeted at the door by a salesperson, offered coffee, and right to the car I wanted to see for a 20 minute test drive! The salesperson spoke about as much English as I know Slovak, but we managed to go over everything I was concerned about or wanted to check. I checked all the functionalities of the entire car, even checked the oil level, which looked a bit low and dark for my liking. So I kindly asked if it would be possible for a full service of the vehicle prior to me purchasing it (oil change, new oil filter, new air filter and a top up of all the fluids). They did have to ask the sevrice manager and the manager of the salon if this could be an added bonus, but after me asking a few times nicely, they agreed and saved me over 200Euros for my first checkup. I put my money down to reserve the car. I gave them one week to sort out all the paperwork, service work, and checkup. The treatment I recieved was top noch, but then again the dealership was not your average Skoda or VW dealer. So needless to say, I did manage to get a car, full service record (the car was brought from Germany from a job transferee who upgraded to a larger vehicle). I will check the car once again next week after they have had some time to do the service work. I am almost certain that I will use their service in the future, so they know they will get me twice a year for an oil change and service fee. This I can accept, but I won’t have to worry about any back alley shop that will find additional things to “Fix” when I take it to the shop for a simple oil change. I do know vehicles and have owned nine in the past, only two of which were brand new and one that I had some problems with that I bought at an auction.

    On the Auction note, be careful, I am not sure how it works here in Slovakia, but the “all sales are final” comes to mind, which is what burnt me on my one stab at a good deal from an Auction. I don’t know if Slovakia has a “Lemon Law” like in the states, but in the US if you purchase a vehicle from a dealer, not auction, they have the obligation to cover all mechanical and electrical issues within a certain time period, or buy the vehicle back at the same sale price. I doubt that is the case here in Slovakia, so you get what you buy.
    I am very happy that my experience opened my eyes, gave me a funny story to remember and share with you all, and turned out for the best. I will keep you all posted on my new ride once I take the papers. Wish me luck!

  3. Buying anything on a weekend is a non starter out here in the sticks, even a basic purchase requires a trip to one of the larger towns and then you have very limited choice of shops.
    Second hand motors – I wouldn’t buy a second hand anything in this country. The auto salons over price any model irrespective of condition or age. Clocking cars is common, the STK, if it has one, means nothing. Almost every driver hammers the car when driving even a short distance so transmissions and brakes are often shot. Ask to see the service history and watch the look of horror decend across the salesman’s face. Chop shop specials are becoming more common as are straightened out write-offs so you can bet almost any car you look at has had some form of Arthur Daly treatment.
    The auction sounds a good move, shame its so far away from here.

  4. I love this articular, cos while funny its oh so true, and the statement “the salesmen doesn’t care about selling you a car, it is their job just to be here” really sums up 95% of the workforce. I used to trade bangers i the U.K but here its a joke you even need 1/2 a day of work to register the mota when you’ve brought it, to go to the cop shop, as does the seller. also 1/2 day for the stk (mot) and the time it takes for em to punch out the ridiculous window stickers. Is this the 1970’s for F’s sake, Oh and im pretty sure it was aaaa motors that was sighted in selling some poor fellow a clocked import, with more miles on it than a galactic starship (500,000km+) yet it displayed 85,000 after he contacted the previous owner. I’d steer well clear of Hahaha Auto.Check out the auction center at triblavina, and pay dealer prices for H.P snatch back’s!!!!!!!

    1. Opp’s slip of the tongue. I mean Trade prices!!! still takes 1/2 a day though..but sale day is a sat.

  5. James Denny are you crazy ??? The guy is a hire em and fire em 2nd hand car crook with few moral ethics where his customer and/or his staff are concerned .

    Hard working perhaps ….Mr Bill Gates or Mark Zuk he is not !

    Another in the Ryanair mold .

  6. This outfit is run by James Denny a well heeled hard working ex pat, so presumably he has his finger on the pulse..

  7. Yep , welcome to Slovakia …!! Why work at all, when you dont have too ! Saturday and Sunday are non working days for everyone else, why not me !

    Actually, a very good friend of mine used to work for AAAA ..he said very much the same as you . Mind you he claims, they sold over 200 cars a WEEK …just imagine how many they could sell, if they actually tried .

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