Still Obesessing over Cars…

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I may have mentioned I’m currently looking at buying a different automobile, and letting the kids take charge of the Mitz.

I also may have insinuated the general feeling of contempt I generate when face-to-face with aggressive used-car salesmen. Well – the other night I got a full reminder of just how close to the surface my irritation comes when faced with a pushy one.

Actually, I met with 2 such arrogant stuffed-shirts, but the first one decided early on I wasn’t worth his time, and actually SLAMMED the door of the car he was trying to get me into.  I could almost see the frustration swirling around him as he stormed across the pavement in a huff – ‘How DARE I openly display dislike of his select combustion-engine box-cabin???’

Imagine, if you will, a ramrod-stiff back, stuffed to the brim with righteous indignation; one arm and two fingers upraised and a contemptuous “two hundred a month!” snarled over one shoulder.  That’s my final impression of salesman #1.

Well, sugar, offering me a deal I don’t want, on a car I’m not interested in, with an aggressive tone of voice and body language that screams ‘f*ck you?’  Yea…I can see that tactic working WELL in your future…

Salesmen don’t like me, because I will not be bullied into buying more car than I require or can afford.  I also refuse to be blinded by bling, swayed with options, or seduced by all-leather interiors.  Granted, I’m not fond of salesmen of any kind as they are the public face of the consumerism I rail against – but I’m convinced there’s a special little hell-hole that pukes out the used-car guys…

I will fully admit that by my fourth step onto any given a used car lot I’ve developed a huge chip on my shoulder, a set price in my head, and attitude oozing from every pore.  It’s my natural reaction to walking into such a hostile environment.  I automatically prepare myself for the attack on my sensibility, my intelligence, and my wallet.

I’ll also admit my job plays a large part in my touchiness over automobile purchases, as financial myopia is a common side-effect of an accounting career.

At the second dealership, I’m offered a firm handshake and a smile.  I swiftly enter the opening salvo – what type of vehicle I’m looking for, how much I’m willing to spend.  I am absolutely, bluntly honest about my price (NO tact – NO sugar-coating   –   money is a brutal business) and that there will be -NO- financing entertained.

He suggests the two cars on the lot that are under my price point.  Both 4 door sedans.  Not interested.  I turn to go.  No sense wasting my time and his.

He then points out a small SUV, which I am interested in, but mentions a price well above my line in the sand.  Again, I tell him no.  He suggests putting money down to hold the vehicle, giving me 30 days to finalize the deal.  I repeat my no – I can’t raise an additional $2k in 30 days.  I reiterate my top price and absolute refusal to finance.

He offers cookies, coffee, a soda.  Allow him a chance to view the particulars on this car, get some information – all that damn contact stuff – and maybe we can make a deal.  I need to use the bathroom, so…OK.  I’ll go in.

**The crowd goes wild as the gladiators enter the arena!

Directly after getting the name, contact info, blah, blah blah – he goes for the numbers instead of meaningless small talk or a push for a test drive, which is an unusual tactic.  I have yet to be up close and personal with the vehicle he’s trying to interest me in.  I haven’t walked around it, touched it, heard it run or smelled the interior.   I LIVE the numbers game 40+ hours a week, though, and detest small talk…so I’m curious to see how he plays this one out.

**Here’s an interesting maneuver from the Champion…a quick retreat to keep the challenger off balance!

He bounces back and forth between his ‘manager’s’ office and his desk a few times during the numbers segment of negotiation.  Only once does he get within $500 of my line in the sand.  There are undertones of ‘finance’ in the air, soft insinuations, but nothing I can really call him out on.

**Our champion shows off his impressive footwork – trying to get inside the challenger’s defenses…

I don’t budge from my line…this is what I have available to spend  What he doesn’t appreciate (or realize) is my bluntness over money matters.  The price I quoted him IS what I have available – there’s no room for me to go up.

**The challenger continues to stand firm…alert and defensive – batting away the attacks…

After the third run to the manager’s desk, he returns with keys – insisting we go for the test drive.

**Ohhh – the champion strikes out with a devastating mental attack!

The psychology behind automobile sales is obvious in its simplicity – Get the client into the product.  Let them feel, touch, smell and drive the product.  Let them play with the product, fantasize about the product, imagine themselves with the product.  Allow the client to bond with the product.  Once the client has mentally sold themselves on the product, you just mop up with the appropriate paperwork, and hello! commission!

To that end, he spills out a story while we’re on the test drive about how the SUV is a one-owner trade in, and he knows the previous owner personally.  It was his trade, and the other owner was sorta reluctant to give up the vehicle they had owned and loved for almost a decade.

**Bad choice for our champion, choosing a mental spell constructed of freshly-extruded fecal material!

I have to admit – it was a nice vehicle.  The interior appeared to be clean and well-maintained; the engine was clean; the body nice and shiny, without dings or obvious touch ups in the finish.  Brakes, alignment, tires, climate controls, everything worked the way it was supposed to.  It test drove very well.

While on the test drive, I mention the kid’s dying car to our erstwhile salesman.  I’m figuring if the dealership gives us only a few hundred for scrap value, it might be enough to meet at an agreeable number.  He immediately goes into info-gathering mode, pumping them for as many details as he can on the potential trade-in.

**The challenger attacks – and is deflected!

The test drive over – the salesman once again takes the desk, writing down all the details of the kid’s car.  He gathers all his documents in one pile, fleeing once more toward the shadowy ‘manager’ hidden somewhere within in the building.

**Our champion charges  – war cry on the lips…

The offer he brings back?  To their credit, this offer finally had a number at the bottom, instead of only price plus TTL (which is easy enough to figure with the calculator in my iPod) on the other offers.  It’s still $500 above my line in the sand – even with the extra $200 offered on the kid’s vehicle in trade.

In short – it’s the exact same offer given before the test drive – worse, actually, as now they’ve factored in a trade in vehicle credit while still coming up with the same price as before.

**Oh no!  The champion has tripped on his own shoelaces!

I’m no longer curious about his sales tactics – now I’m irritated.  Maybe a little insulted.  I’m tired of repeating the amount I have available, I’m tired of his face, his posture, and the mental struggle to put his accent into understandable sentences.  I’m tired of the increasing pressure to agree to a price above my available funds.  I switch to a more aggressive mode – stabbing the dollar value at the top of the offer with a stiffened finger.  “This,” I tell him, “Is what I have.  This is what I will pay.”

gladiator-2000-51-g**The challenger goes for the killing blow…but the champion rolls  at the last minute!

 

He mutters “Well, now you’re getting emotional…”

**Ooooo – right onto his own weapon!

And just like that, I’ve had it.  He just got personal.  I’m done.  I stand, coldly thanking him for his time.  My outstretched hand is a challenge in itself.

gladiators copy**The challenger’s weapon is set on the champion’s chest.  ‘Yield!’ is the growled demand…

“But,” he insists, “I have two cars that will come in under your price…” He’s slightly panicked at this point – I can read it in his eyes.  I think he FINALLY realizes I’m serious about the amount I’m willing to spend on a car; realizes how badly he misread things; realizes how badly he bungled this potential transaction; and is now attempting a Hail Mary to salvage his sale.

judgement copy**They both look to the king – thumb horizontal – for final judgem…where’d that football come from???

Seriously?  I’ve been in the dealership for over an hour, and he wants to start fresh with a different vehicle?  One that I was dismissive about at the very beginning?   I give him a firm no – that I am done with shopping for this evening.

**OMG – what an incredible game – but it’s all over with a tie score!  No winner for the Superbowl this year!

I really, REALLY hate car shopping…

Auto-Obsessions

Someone took my license plate literally

Everyone loves the feel, the handling, the smell, and the looks of a brand new car.  I had the opportunity to rent just such a noble steed a couple of years ago when I was between vehicles (never saw the guy coming and he totaled my car…) and it was amazing.

The thing had 25 miles on it when I drove it off the lot.  It smelled wonderful – new plastic and fabric and cleaning products, with no hints of body sweat, emissions, or bad drive-through food.  It had a full options package, and it flowed down the road like a dreamy flying carpet (albeit with less wind).  It glistened in any available light like a bright red shiny Christmas bauble.

In short – it did it’s best to try to seduce me to the dark side.  If there had been cookies, this might be a different story…

It was kinda sad to return it to the rental place and start driving the 13 year old, dull white (but very serviceable) Mitz I’d selected based on consumer reviews and what the insurance company was willing to pay…But I was mobile, alive, unharmed, and didn’t go into mountains of debt to be so.

I have a decidedly un-Murikan! view on debt – less is miles ahead of more.

Some people aren’t so resilient (OK…I’ll say it…bullheaded) – and get sucked into the black hole of “New Mania” – seduced into buying a new car every 2 years or so – building their debt to the point where they canNOT imagine life without an increasingly large car payment.

Granted, they leave their ‘nothing wrong with it’ trade ins on used car lots sprinkled across every nook & cranny on the globe for the more sensible of us to pick through when we need transportation – but what happened to buying a quality product, and then utilizing it throughout it’s usable life?

Consumerism really irritates me sometimes…

Next, let’s talk about the Government involvement in the automobile industry.  I’ve been racking my brain for days trying (and failing) to come up with a bigger tax scam.  It’s a HUGE revenue builder for the states.  Every time that automobile changes hands, the state gets to collect sales tax.  They get to charge licensing fees.  They get to charge clean-air fees.  I’m sure there are other fees and dues I don’t have to pay, as every state plays by a different set of tax laws.

Every.  Single.  Time.

There isn’t another common consumer good out there following this scheme. I can go out and buy a recovered bicycle from a police auction, and ride it all over the roads without attracting the attention of the tax man.

I can buy a couch, a bed, a lamp, clothing, jewelry, dishes, yadda… at a rummage sale and not have to offer up sales taxes.

I can buy baked goods in a Church Basement and nosh away without any additional cash required before that first sugary-sweet bite.

Sometimes, I get to barter with only goods changing hands while the tax man froths in impotent rage.

This is about as ‘open’ as a house can get…

But Motorized transportation?  Every Single Sale – public or private – HAS to be recorded, reported, taxes and fees collected.  And if the end-user doesn’t want to pony up them dollars, that shiny new toy becomes nothing more exotic than the world’s largest paperweight…with bucket seats.

I wouldn’t recommend parking a Buick on your desk, however…

Why, you may ask, am I grousing about the automobile industry?

I bought the White Wonder around 2 years ago, and there’s nothing wrong with it.  The Mitz is a very dependable little set of wheels, and has given me no trouble outside of requiring new tires and regular oil changes.  As long as I keep up on the maintenance, it should provide the same dependable service for years yet.  I haven’t fallen to the dark side of consumerism (no cookies have been offered…) and I’m not tired of the car.

Unfortunately, I find myself in need of a second car because the kids’ car has croaked out its last exhaust-laden breath.

Graveside Services are Next Tuesday

Seeing though I’m the one that can afford a car…finance a car…and add a second car to my insurance to drop the policy rates on both cars…I’m the one who has to buy the second car.

So the kids are going to give me what they can for the Mitz – and it will be their car even though the paperwork lists it as mine.

Family ties can still trump the tax man 😛

So I’m off to find me a different set of wheels.  I shall gird my loins for this dawning test of fortitude upon the battlefield of the used car lot.  My opponent – the trickster and his brethren – welcome me into their hazard-filled arena.

HearseWhat atrocities shall I behold?  What weapons shall they employ?  And what wonders shall be paraded before my left-seeing eyes?

I really hope the last guy who sold me a car is doing better.  Just last week, he got to weave a basket…