Friday, July 17, 2009

On the lot

Cutting right to it, I now own a more recently manufactured car with much less mileage on it than the Saturn with 192, 541 miles that I put out to pasture by trading it in. I visited eleven dealerships and one car lot, test drove seven cars, and negotiated twice. (My dad was an invaluable partner. I can't imagine doing this solo.) Some of the dealers were only a mile or two from where I live. The place where I bought the car is thirty-some miles outside the city.

My online searches and research chewed up a lot of hours this week and led to more lost sleep than I wish it had, but the legwork produced the purchase of a vehicle that I think meets my needs about as well as anything could. The experience yielded its share of strange, funny, and aggravating moments, such as:

-At least two salespeople fed me the line that the car I was looking at and test drove was owned by an older person. It may very well have been true, but talk about the stereotypical pitch.

-I took one car out for a spin and had someone pull up beside me to inform me that I lost a hubcap. I hadn't driven even a half mile from the dealership. We were able to recover the hubcap, which came off because it had at least one broken plastic clip.

-There was a reason why I typically eliminated cars at places whose online presences indicated that they weren't dealerships. I went to one of these to find the car blocked in and unable to be test driven, not the least of which was because it had to be jumpstarted. (No surprise that it was a salvage rebuild.)

-One salesman gave me the key to a car and let me take it out without presenting a driver's license or signing any paperwork. His informality tightened up with a post-drive medium-to-high pressure negotiation. (I did not end up buying this car, although it did prove useful to have as an alternative to play as a bargaining chip in the negotiation for the car I got.)

-"That car hasn't been driven in a couple days. The rust will come off the brakes shortly after you use them." Umm, no. My guess is that the rotors are warped because the brakes pulse like crazy. So much for your dealership's 115 point inspection.

-Making derisive remarks about the minorities and immigrants in the area and using some jokey pidgin English probably aren't the best tactics when you don't know the customer you're talking to.

-No way of talking your way out of this one: the salesman hopped in the back seat and had me drive him to a gas station since the fuel light was on. He could not get out of the car because the lock couldn't be undone from the inside. He tried to pass this off as a child safety lock. That might have been a passable explanation except that this car had manual locks.

I'll write about the negotiation and completed sale tomorrow as it deserves space of its own.

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At 11:30 PM, Anonymous LittleWit said...

A roofing company in town lost my father's business while commenting on a local immigrant population. People really need to check their bias at the door of businesses. It really alienates your customer base.

At 11:38 PM, Blogger the secret knitter said...

Yeah, politics in general is dangerous territory for salesmen. I heard more than a couple comments about their thoughts on the government bailouts of car manufacturers. Bottom line is if you're trying to get my business and don't know my viewpoints, you probably ought to keep such talk to yourself.


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