Traffic-light hustle


These guys sidle up to your open windows and engage you by showing you pages from a book filled with various car listings in the hopes of piquing your interest. Couldn’t engage with them, but I’m assuming they get a commission for each car customer they manage to hook. On this page, a quintet of (relatively) affordable and practical Nissan Tiida’s on one page, with a mixed bag of Jags and Audis on the opposite page – lots of interesting stuff to unpack about the relatively unformed impressions of various car brands. For example, remember the stories about the clever folks bringing Jags in over the Thai border and claiming they were not luxury cars but rather on par with, say, Toyota or Nissan, in order to avoid paying such hefty duties? Consider the dwindling number of contexts across the globe where such non-knowledge of a brand can be so powerfully exploited by those in the know.

Anyways, these traffic light hustlers leverage a few factors in a (perhaps) clever business model:
1) Captive audience at traffic light.
2) Potential envy-inducing factor of seeing nicer, newer cars nearby yours stopped at traffic light, ample chance to oogle them and reflect upon the perhaps sorry state of your own ride.
I was tempted to follow this scenario to its seemingly absurd conclusion to test the soundness of their system. “Yes, I’d like to buy that car. Yes, that black Audi, there. May I see it? Yes, right now.” Based upon strength of cash economy here, and that the standard for purchases of such things as cars are that payments be made in (large, black garbage bags full of) cash, such an interaction wouldn’t have many places to go after that. For the hustlers themselves, though, some considerations: how to choose potential customers to approach? Older cars vs. newer cars? Younger vs. older? Also, how to decide which pages to have open when approaching customers? How would a customer react to being shown a new version of the very model they were presently driving? Or, better to take the aspirational route and entice them with a “dream car”? Guess that also depends upon how their commission system works – a set amount collected per interested buyer, versus a percentage of the total price of the car sold.
I can’t help but wonder how much longer the policies influencing the booming car market will continue to make this particular exploit worth their while – where else in the world are people sold cars while waiting at traffic lights?


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