Thursday, September 11, 2008

...a Consumer: Why I'll Never Go to a Car Dealership Again

Because we're expecting our third, we realized that one of our cars, a Jetta Wagon, would not fit two boosters and a car seat. We weren't entirely sure our other vehile, a 2000 Ford Explorer (Eddie Bauer edition) with low miles, would either, and with all the advertised discounts, thought it might be a good idea to check out the SUVs at "Employee Pricing". Which sounds like a great deal, right? Yeah, not so much when you look at the numbers. But, that was fine as the crossover we were most interested in, thanks to an article that touted its ability to fit three seats, will not, in fact, fit the three seats that we have. In fact, it was 2" shorter in hip room than our Jetta.

But, the young man we're working with says he's got this great Trailblazer, an 05, with 21,000 miles on it, previously leased "by a woman who takes incredible care of her vehicles", third row seat...ok, let's test drive it. So we do, it's nice, decent enough price (so we think) and ask to discuss numbers.

The first payment offered is waaaay to high for us, plus they're offering a pittance for our trade- 2,000 less than it should be. So, they "work up" some more numbers, break it down weekly for us (really?) and when it's still too high, he goes to talk to the manager, and comes back with the owner (who my husband knows because he taught his daughter a couple of years ago). The owner then knocks the price down another $15 and then says (not kidding) "If I can do this price, would you sign the papers tonight?"

I actually laugh. "Uh no, I can't make that kind of decision on the spot" not to mention at this point, we've been there an hour and a half, we still need to go grocery shopping and I need to eat. I think my poor husband is going to pass out from hunger. Despite having said as much a good 20 minutes ago, the owner then starts to go on and on about the Certified vehicles, what a great deal this is for our family (oh- so you really know us?!?) and then breaks these numbers down by week. Holy god- my husband is a math teacher and just because the bank says we can afford it doesn't mean 1) we want to pay that much for a car and 2) that we really CAN afford it- uh, hello, mortgage crisis anyone?

So, FINALLY we get out of there. We talk about the car, which we proceed to do over the next couple of weeks. But during this time, we get approximately four more phone calls. At least one every few days. At this point, I say to my husband, I bet if I called and told them what I wanted to pay per month, they'd agree to it. I'm betting we're the ONLY people who've looked at this car since it's been on the lot."

We get another phone call. Guess how much the "payment" is down now? A total of $45. Almost exactly now the amount I joking said we should offer to pay. Guess what else I've learned? The cost they originally had on the car is $3000 more than book value (however, I'll add in around $1500 for the Certified Used Vehicle value). So the original $3000 off only brought it down to book value. They came up on our trade-in value- but it's still really not a great deal. I don't think they're losing any money on it at all. They'd still end up getting near the book value.

I don't mind the wheeling and dealing to a point- and we're honestly not playing any games with them- we really just don't know what it is we want to do (and I really hate car payments). Our Explorer, as it turns out, fits all seats perfectly. I just can't believe how many times we've been contacted about this "great deal"/"perfect for our family"/"certified used vehicle"/"we know the previous owner personally- she takes great care of her cars"/"incredile deal" Trailblazer (did I mention there was an e-mail too, which, apparently my very nice response to, prompted the manager to call and repeat the same things over again?). I'm 100% positive they're hot to get this off their lot. Even though we've decided to wait before buying anything right now, and I've told them this much twice (so we'll see if that makes a difference), I'm ever-so-tempted to call and say, here's what we're will to pay each month for it, and see if they bite.

We'll see what happens when they call next week.

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