Kim Krushell cringed as the car salesman asked again where her husband was.
She was alone, attempting to buy a new van at an Edmonton dealership.
The former city councillor wanted to pay cash, but the salesman was skeptical she could afford it.
"I've had three bad car-buying experiences," Krushell said in an interview with CBC Radio's Edmonton AM. "Unfortunately, salespeople will just ignore women or they'll ask them really superficial questions like, 'What colour do you want the car to be?' "
Krushell is hoping a new workshop called Women & Wheels will help women feel more confident purchasing a vehicle.
Women and Money is a group which promotes financial empowerment for women and is an extension of Women's Initiative Edmonton, a City of Edmonton initiative endorsed and supported by city council. It's hosting the free event next Tuesday.
Krushell said salespeople often do a terrible job of communicating with women. Women often feel overlooked or intimidated at car dealerships, and often pay more than male customers for the same make and model.
'They don't have to play a damsel in a distress'
"I'm not suggesting that every woman is not good at car buying, that's not the case," said Krushell, a volunteer with the group. "But there is a perception out there that you're not going to get a good deal if you don't bring a guy."
The free event at Lexus South Pointe will include tips on how to get the best deal and how to navigate tricky contract negotiations. It will also provide hands-on lessons on general vehicle maintenance, such as how to change a flat tire and change oil.
"So they don't have to play a damsel in a distress, they can do it themselves," said Rachel Christenson, the parts manager at Lexus South Pointe who will be hosting the workshop.
Event registration can be found online.
"We've heard from women loud and clear that this is something we should talk about, and we need to change that experience from a negative to a positive," Krushell said.
"Car buying, it's a big financial decision and the more we can do to empower women on making those decisions, the better."