21 May 2005

The New Car, Part I

"It was green." That was her answer.
The question was, "What kind of car is it?"
But I'm gettin' ahead of myself.

We had been driving the Station Wagon six years. I had taken great care of the car, and it had been a dependable part of our family. But with 186,000 miles on it, it had begun leaking oil from both the engine and transmission. I was afraid to set out on long trips with it.

Sara Jean and I began looking for a replacement.

I've owned several new cars in my life. She has not. I decided to treat her and buy her a new toy!

We started looking around at cars we liked. I like the utility a Station Wagon provides.....you get most of the benefits you get with a Minivan without having to drive a "mini-school bus".

The wagon would seat 8 people in a pinch. None of the Minivans would seat more than 7. Minivans are "draggy".....they push a lot of air in front of them. The wagon design is more aerodynamic and gets better gas mileage.

The wagon did better than any of the vans in safety tests.

She made it known right away.......she wanted no part of wagon OR minivan!. She wanted to buy a car she could drive with pride!

She came home one day and announced, "I saw the car I want today!"
"Great! What kind of car was it?"
"It was green."
"Uhh, okay. I'll buy you a green car!"
(Tim Allen sound here.)

So I had to quiz her.
Where was the car?
Dark green or light green?
Remember anything else about it?
I made a special trip into town to find the car. When I saw it, I had to agree......it was a nice ride.

But we couldn't afford it. It was about $5,000 more than I had planned on spending. I started looking for used versions of the car.

By chance, I stopped at a dealer about an hour away from home to see if he had any in his stable. As luck would have it, the owner of the dealership had been driving one as a demonstrator and was ready to sell!

Considering my trade and my down payment, I found we were still about $2,000 from agreement on the price of this car.

I gave the salesman my business card and walked out the door.

The phone rang the next morning. "What do we have to do to put you into this car?"
Don't ya hate that? I had made it VERY clear to this bozo what I needed the night before!

The calls continued for two weeks. Finally, the salesman called and said they were ready to agree to my requirements.

So I gathered up my checkbook and the title to the wagon and drove the hour to the dealership.
The sales guy brought the car around....clean, shiny.........seductive. He knew exactly the effect it would have on me!

We took a test drive. It had 7,000 miles on it, but it looked and smelled like a new car.
It was a dream to drive....it had an outstanding stereo, and bells and whistles I'd have to get the book out to learn how to use!

But when he brought out the sales contract I noticed he had dropped the trade-in value of the wagon by 2 grand, and had hidden this fact by scrambling the numbers in the loan agreement!
So again, I walked out the door.

If anyone wants to know why car dealerships, and particularly used car salesmen, have bad reputations, they should take a look at negotiations like these!

To be continued.........

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