With 8+ years directly in dealerships and another 20+ in closely related jobs and many friends in the business I certainly have a bit different perspective of dealers. Naturally not all of them are bad, though virtually all of them have bad actors on staff, so you literally play roulette when you walk in the door. Of course it's fairly easy to identify the worst ones (the one that asks you if you are buying today as their first question lol), but others are either genuinely trying to help or have learned well how to hide their shadiness.
Of course the new car dealers have the corner on new cars and there is virtually no way to avoid them for a new car purchase unless you are a very large fleet purchaser. For used cars and many replacement parts obviously you can cut the dealer out which is what I do whenever possible simply because they are always the most expensive way to buy or fix a car because their overhead is greater than any other source. That's why I don't necessarily view them crooked, just expensive which is not illegal.
On the subject of trade vs auction, the concept that they will always pay more at the auction is simply not true. If the right boxes are checked (one owner, dealer maintained, not reported accidents, like new condition, etc.) the dealer will often pay more on trade than they would at auction because those cars rarely make it to the auction. Dealers send cars to the auction that don't fit that criteria.
Finally, keep in mind that enthusiasts on forums like this are not your typical consumer. Most of us here, with the exception of the person who just joined after a Google search turned up this forum when they were searching for a solution to a problem they are having, are far more studied than the typical driver. They get comfortable with a dealer or local repair shop and want to trust them to look out for their needs and there are businesses in literally every industry that cater to people that don't want to know any more about a particular industry than to walk in the door, make their purchase, and leave. Funny how there aren't forums about furniture, groceries, or appliances. Nobody calls them liars and thieves lol.
2007 MDX Tech Billet Silver
2007 Honda Odyssey EX-L Nav/Res
30+ Years Automotive & Related Industry Experience