If you don't mind my asking, how old are you?
I'm in my mid-20s. Right after college, my BF decided to buy a car. He had a huge college fund (parents planned very well) and he worked through college and really didn't use much of it outside of tuition and rent. His parents told him he could use the remainder for whatever he chose, so he decided to buy a car.
He LOVES station wagons, especially Volvos. We went to a Volvo dealer and it was bustling with salespeople and potential customers. BF asked to take a look around and a woman decided to take us on a tour. BF started with the used cars, but he wanted to see the new ones. Keep in mind that it was a group of the three of us, me/BF/his friend and the saleswoman. We're fresh out of school and, while well-groomed, we were still wearing fairly casual clothes and looked young. While we were walking around, she gives BF the third degree about his life. He told her that he was a recent graduate and is currently job-hunting. He left the "I have the money to pay for this" out of it because he knew the pressure would go way up if they knew he'd pay for it in full.
Apparently, three young people and the potential buyer without a job was enough for the woman to REFUSE HIM A TEST DRIVE. We saw over 10 salespeople on the floor and she told BF that he needed to make an appointment and come back during the week. The gist of her reasoning was that these salespeople were for "serious buyers only" and that she was not going to waste time giving him a test drive. He raised his eyebrows and told her he'd come back. He never did. His friend and I were about to scream. We told him that he should find her manager and complain about her. He said no and drove to a Volkswagen dealer. The salesperson there was fantastic. Took BF out for a long test drive and enthusiastically described all the models and the options, blah blah blah. He didn't ask too much about BF's life or finances other than "What brings you in today?"
Guess what BF bought?
I realize that, being a salesperson, it's annoying and have to spend time on people who are not serious about buying your product. However, it does pay off. Had that salesperson at the Volvo dealership put her prejudices and her assumptions aside and treated him well, she would have earned one hell of a commission.
These tactics, making you leave your personal info or making you make an appointment, is to get you to prove that you're serious about buying. I think they're completely unnecessary and prejudicial. I haven't been car shopping since, but since then, BF and I have gone house-hunting. How we dress and appear is apparently very important (I see why, but I don't like it). If we go in t-shirts and jeans, we get written off or get a long lecture about how we should forget about houses and look at condos only, since it is "what we can afford". They have no clue about our finances at this point. However, when we put on dressier clothing, they're courting us like we're royalty. "Oh! This is a fantastic home for a family!" "This is a perfect starter home!" "A house is PERFECT for a young, up-and-up couple like you two." Really? That's funny... I didn't realize that my outfit increased my income, too!
Anyway, sorry about the rant and the hijack, but your post struck a nerve in me because I've been there, too. The salesman was out of line. Too bad, because he just cost his dealership a good sale. It bothers me that there are many salespeople out there who just presume that younger people cannot handle large purchases. Sure, I know that there are people out there who just mess around, but really, snap judgments and broad generalizations can be very costly.
It isn't just cars and houses. I know a woman who works a Bloomingdales and she said that she spent an hour helping a customer looking for a good winter coat. The customer didn't buy anything, but liked her so much that she took her card and promised to come back and look for her. My friend said that yeah, it's disappointing when they don't buy, but she considers her time to be a good investment.
Edited for grammar, etc.