International Writers Magazine - Our 20th Year: Consumer Issues - From Our Archives
a new car
There are many "life experiences" that are rather unpleasant
and that most people try hard to avoid. Going to the dentist is
one that comes to mind immediately. You really have to be a masochist
to enjoy having your teeth drilled. Another is attending funerals.
This is especially true if you really didnt know the deceased,
its the middle of the winter, its a cold and snowy Sunday,
and your team is in the playoffs on TV. My usual response is "send
a card and make a donation."
Most men will do
just about anything to avoid being dragged to a bridal shower, engagement
party, dance lessons, or a house warming. In situations like this, even
a visit to the dentist is preferable. Women, on the other hand, find
all kinds of reasons not to go on camping or fishing trips - "honey,
you go with the boys
youll have much more fun." What
they havent said is that before hubby crosses the state line,
theyll be off to the mall for a "shopping experience."
Then theres the "buying the new car" experience. For
most of us, it occurs about every five to six years (or 115,000 miles,
whichever comes first). This is one of those life experiences that can
fill us with joy and anxiety at the same time. First, theres the
happiness that comes with buying a new vehicle - the new car smell,
the new features and dent free fenders. But first theres the anxiety
that comes with facing the auto dealerships high-pressure sales
tactics, stalling practices and the hackneyed phrase "Ill
have to run this past my manager."
Nevertheless, for us that time had arrived. Its been over thirteen
years since we bought a new car. True, we did purchase two trucks during
this period but they were, well
trucks. Not that they were inexpensive
when we bought them; they did have cruise control, electric windows,
and a tilt steering wheels. But recently we decided to buy a new vehicle
that was not a truck, so we began a series of visits to various auto
dealerships. Our criteria was simple; it had to have a comfortable ride
(we drive from New Hampshire to Florida), seat at least six people with
ample leg room, have four-wheel drive and be able to tow at least 5,000
pounds (our boat). Oh yes, I also wanted a few of those nice little
"do-dads," like a navigation system, moon roof, surround sound,
keyless entry and a hands-free cell-phone calling system.
So our search began. At the first dealership the salesman informed me
that they didnt have anything on the lot similar to what I wanted
because they didnt have much call for that expensive a vehicle.
Expensive? "Well, if you did have a vehicle like the one Ive
described, what are we looking at in price" I naively asked. The
price he quoted was more than the combined amount I paid for my first
two houses! After the shock wore off, my wife reminded me that no one
pays the sticker price; that all the dealers wanted to move their stock
out to make room for the new models and that perhaps we could find a
used or demo car at a lot less than half the national debt.
So off we went to the next dealership, where we found what appeared
to be the perfect fit
a nice ride, plenty of leg room, hands free
cell phone calling
but wait, theres no navigation system;
only the drivers seat is electric, and theres no moon roof.
Sorry; for the cost of a full year at Harvard University I want a little
more. Our odyssey continued.
Several dealerships later, I saw "it." It was b-i-g, jet black,
covered with chrome and I could hear it calling my name. The test ride
confirmed it - this was "the vehicle." It had a navigation
system, a rear sonar system (so you can see what youre backing
into), a power-sliding sunroof, and eight way power seats (with built-in
warmers of course), gas and brake pedals that adjusted to the drivers
leg length and when you turned off the key the drivers seat slid
backwards for ease of exit. But what really got me was when the salesman
pushed a button on the door and the two side-view mirrors folded in
against the car so you can squeeze into narrow parking spaces! Now all
we had to do was negotiate a reasonable price.
Im the first to admit that "bargaining" is not my strong
suit. My thought process has always been that he has a car he wants
to sell so hell offer to me a price thats reasonable and
that I can afford. After all these years, I should know better. Fortunately
for me (and my checkbook) my wife, one of the kindest, gentlest people
on Gods earth, upon entering an auto dealer ship, is immediately
transformed into a cross between Attila the Hun and Ivan the Terrible.
Once she has decided what she is willing to pay, nothing the dealer
can say will change her mind. They sell the car to us for that price
or we walk.
Ill make a long story short; we got the car for the price we were
willing to pay. Now if only I could turn my wife loose on the gas companies,
they would be paying me to fill up the tank. So if youre about
to buy a new car and need someone to negotiate the price
© Jerry Slafsky Oct 18th 2009
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