Monday, June 11, 2012

Car Wars Episode I: Wheels and Deals

(Episode II)

I bought a car last week.

Yeah…I know.

At least I think I bought a car.

It feels more like I’m sitting in a space capsule on my way to Mars.

But the good news is…I think I get HBO!

It’s not even a very fancy car.  I was never the type that needed to tool around in an expensive dream machine that essentially does the exact same thing a reasonably priced dreamless machine does…namely, roll you around from here to there.

I don’t need the glitz and glamour of a prestigious hood moniker to announce to the world how cool I am.

I use Twitter for that.

So I buy your basic automobile with four tires and a steering wheel, which I always insist they throw in for nothing.

And now I get HBO!

You probably can’t tell, but I don’t buy cars very often.

Mostly because it’s stressful.

Like divorce, unemployment…or even death.

Actually death is less stressful than buying a car.  There’s very little negotiation in death.

Plus you don’t have to worry about interest rates…or whether or not you should pay 50 bucks for a cargo net.

So I try to go to the car dealer about once every decade or so.

And believe me, it wasn’t an easy decision cuz I hate to lose my “Impeach Nixon” bumper stickers.

This time I did my research online before I bought.  And since I’ve been buying pretty much the same car for the last 20 years, it doesn’t take me a lot of time.

I even asked for a quote from my local dealer, figuring once they started calling me with offers I would have no choice but to go in.

So I get an e-mail price quote of $19,121. Not bad I guess in terms of car buying where you can spend $30-40 K on a basic family soccer car.

But let’s not kid ourselves; to most people—freelance writers, especially—that’s still a lot of money.

I mean I can hire someone to do terrible things to at least two people with that amount of money…especially if I use a coupon.

And, after buying a car, there are always one or two folks I have in mind.

So Z and I drive over to the dealers last weekend and meet with Gabriella, the woman with whom I was talking with online. I had already told her I was ready to buy and knew exactly what I wanted. She greets us with a pretty smile and asks us to have a seat, whereupon she huddles in the corner with a couple of guys who occasionally look back over their shoulders to sneak a peek at us.

Eventually, after a series of rock paper scissors—two out of three—a jovial fellow, named Barry, trundles over to us and announces it’s his “pleasure” to assist us today. He further goes on to say that since we know exactly what we want he is going to make this process as easy and pain free as possible. Then he proceeds to write a number on a piece of paper, to which I ask, if that’s the combination to his locker….

Barry stares at me, blankly, for an uncomfortable second or two and then begins to laugh, perhaps a bit too much, suspecting that I had made some sort of a joke.

As the number on the piece of paper was considerably less than what I was originally quoted, I was immediately put into a buying frame of mind. 

However, since I didn’t fall off the turnip truck yesterday…for once…I elicited a few concessions, such as making sure that no other unreasonable fees or dealer add on would be attached other than the mandatory tax and motor vehicle registration costs. I had also been told by my initial contact, the smiling young woman, that I was eligible for a “Loyalty Discount” since I already owned one of their cars.

So all in all, I’m feeling pretty good about the sweet little deal I’ve slyly negotiated for myself.

The only proviso that I had to concede was to agree to buy a car from their in-house inventory, which limited my choice of preferred colors.

Barry mentioned he had a particular grey model in mind that he wanted to show me, which gave me pause, since grey cars always reminds of me of a bad experience I had when the government agents stopped by unannounced that time.


Z and I huddled ourselves and worked out our own low key strategy, because the last thing you want do is appear overly enthusiastic, when car shopping. 

You really want to exhibit as much of a “I can take it or leave it” attitude as you can muster.

So, with poker faces in place, we’re ready to see my car in waiting.

This particular dealership is pretty small as dealerships go, so Barry asked us if we wouldn’t mind riding over to their service building up the street.

We said of course not, but had second thoughts once we arrived and were led down into a dark cavernous storage facility. 

It’s not that I minded the dingy garage like conditions so much, but the odd whimpering noises coming from behind some of the closed doors made me second guess pushing so hard for the free car mats.

I’ve been prattling on here for a while, and since my market research shows at this point you probably need a break from all this tension, I’ll stop here and pick it up next time.

When I continue this tale, I’ll let you know if we ended up with a new car or not. 

Okay…I can’t wait. 

We did…but when did water boarding become part of the trade in process?


Car Wars Episode II: The Dealer Strikes Back


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  1. Sixty years ago we bought our first house at $ll,500. Now cars cost a whole lot more than that. What color is your new car? Mine is red, and I can always find it in the parking lot, for most cars are either black or silver or white. It's awful to forget where you parked your car. Especially when pushing a supermarket cart. Through the snow. At dusk.

  2. I bet 11.5 K bought a lot of house though in 1952. My car is a little darker than silver and a little lighter than grey. Like just about every 8 out of 10 cars I see now.

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