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The Joys Of Buying A Car

 A rather amusing email has been doing the rounds recently, and we just couldn’t let it pass us by without posting it for you to read.

“Recently, my wife and I decided that it was time to buy a new car. My own car had grown so dilapidated that I was depreciating our property value every time I pulled into the garage.

So we visited a local car yard – I won’t say which one – to find a replacement.

And we did.

We found a gorgeous replacement. Right beyond the lion’s den of salespeople.

When we arrived at the dealership, it was four hundred degrees outside because there is no ozone layer.

The salesmen were lurking in the shade, so the lot appeared destitute.

 As soon as we started to browse, however, I sensed movement. The way an antelope senses a lion on the horizon.

Before I could say, “Wow, this is kind of expensive,” the lion was upon us.

“Hi,” my name is Steve. Can I put you in this car today?”

Man, I hate salespeople.

I hate their jargon.

I hate the way they write numbers on paper without saying them aloud.

I hate their parents for having reproduced. While appraising my watch, Steve delivered a speech about dual-side rock and onion steering, passenger-side air holes, and other features that didn’t interest me.

Looking at the price tag, I wondered if the car had a part-time job to help pay for itself.

We took the car for a spin anyway because, alas, we liked it.

During the test-drive, Steve tried to gain a sense of who we were, where we grew up, and how much money he could siphon from our pockets. He made eye contact with us only because it was a good sales tactic. He complimented our clothing for the same reason. Everything he said had been printed in a manual.

This man was a predator who had discovered his niche in the workplace: He was a car salesman.

Unfortunately, we liked the car.

A lot.

As we drove the 101, the issue became not how much the car cost, but whether our lives could carry on without it. Could we concentrate at work each day having left this precious machine behind, or would one of us eventually go postal and hold the car dealership at gunpoint?

Steve sensed our predicament. He also sensed a budding relationship with our bank account.

“The nice thing about this car is that it’s safe,” he told me. “The engine is designed to collapse underneath the driver during a head-on collision. That way your wife won’t get injured.”

 Beyond the four hundred degree shadow of a doubt, I detested this man. He was playing my guilt like a Spanish guitar, serenading my wife all the while.

Returning to the lot, Steve suggested that we go inside to talk things over.

Buying a car is not like buying a loaf of bread. It’s not as simple as “How much is it and will you accept a check?”

The price on the car window is merely a suggestion, a jumping off point for negotiations. There would be compromises and credit checks and “favors.”

 It’s a Geneva Summit to discuss the future of your finances.

I warned Steve that we probably couldn’t afford the vehicle, to which he replied, “No, you just don’t have my talent for juggling numbers.” (Or treading b.s. for that matter.)

Inside we were greeted by 13 salespeople according to the manual.

 They smelled our desire for the car and smiled bigger.

 Steve ushered us in like a fraternity pledge with two hot blondes from the local bar.

 In the conference room, he offered me a soda.

 But I knew better.

Anything we accepted at this point could only work against us – a soda, a piece of gum, a handshake. I wouldn’t hear of it. How dare he even offer.

Steve juggled his numbers for the next 40 minutes until we arrived at a tolerable payment.

Somewhere during the arbitration, the word “affordable” had become “tolerable.” Steve had broken us down with the craft of Jim Jones. We were out of resistance. We had no will.

 By the time it was over, I had accepted two sodas and a trial membership to the Spectrum Club.

I had become entranced by the vortex of numbers before me, a psychedelic voyage through feasibility.

Once we agreed to the payment, Steve had to gain “final approval” from his supervisor (anyone remember Fargo?).

When Steve returned, the numbers had changed again and negotiations started all over.

Thirty minutes later, the supervisor came down to finalize the deal. He shook our hands, confessing the sacrifices he had made to “put us in this car.”

He wondered aloud if his kids would eat this month.

I felt like a sweaty pig. I had just prostituted my principles to a revolting game of greed, materialism, and lifelong payments.

But if you want a new car, there are no two ways about it.

Even now as we drive around town, I sometimes see Steve in the rearview mirror. He is sitting in the backseat with a smirk, purring sweetly as he basks in the afterglow of the big sale. And that is a cost you won’t find anywhere in the fine print.”

Well, that’s one reason why Private Fleet exists, to make car buying easy for you.

If you have any similar car buying experiences we’d love to hear form you and we’ll post it on the blog.

13 comments

  1. Ziggy Olivier says:

    Recently we decided, after lengthy research, to buy one of those beautiful big Lexus 4x4s. This was going to be our dream car to explore the country.Finance arranged, max price decided. What an easy sale – so you would think. In we marched to the selected showroom – just after 9am. Quivering with the eagerness of a newly married couple on their wedding night.
    Just give us the papers to sign, hand the vehicle over and we’ll drive off into the sunset.
    Not a soul in sight. No one. After much searching we discovered a distinctly unfriendly young female who regarded us with some disdain. Patiently we explained our innermost desires relating to said vehicle.
    Only to be told that everyone was at an important ‘Sales Meeting’ – someone important had arrived from Melbourne – and could we come back in 20 mins?
    Of course we never did.
    I later spoke to the Franchise owner who never apologised but explained to me that they needed to ensure that their sales people were professionally trained. The irony was never appaarent to this beacon of management talent.

    September 17th, 2009 at 4:48 am

  2. Chris Allan says:

    Quick question…where does Private fleet organise the vehicles from?? Do they do deals with these “shady dealers” on the side??? or do they hold their own dealer licence and buy straight from the manufacturing plant? I see they put so much time into convincing you of the need to stay away from a dealer, but are their palms lined by the Dealer too?

    September 17th, 2009 at 5:19 am

  3. CHRIS says:

    This piece of self important garbage makes me sick. Where does this guy get off with his smugness. Doesn’t he realize that every purchase he makes, every day of his life someone is making money out of him and that the mark up on those items as a percentage of the spend are way more than on a motor vehicle. Profit is not a dirty word, it is the way of the world. You cannot get away from it. There is an alternative, either hide away on the side of a mountain somewhere or live in the real world and deal with reality or shut the hell up.

    September 17th, 2009 at 5:24 am

  4. admin says:

    Hi Chris,

    Please don’t take posts like these too seriously. This story is obviously made up by someone in the US but we just thought it was very well written and a bit of fun!

    We do very much rely on our dealers to run our business – it is through them that we use our tendering system to obtain pricing and ultimately deliver the vehicles.

    I would also like to add that the vast majority of dealers in Australia today are anything but ‘shady’. A lot better than they were in the 80’s, perhaps!

    September 17th, 2009 at 5:28 am

  5. CHRIS says:

    that bit of fun, casts all salespeople (not just cars salespeople) in a very negative light and help perpetuate stereo types that are outdated and frankly insulting.

    September 17th, 2009 at 5:38 am

  6. Simon says:

    Why are all these comments in CAPS. Its really annoying to read.

    September 17th, 2009 at 7:13 am

  7. jason says:

    wow i think chris needs to move on! or is it that he has a guilty conscience?

    September 17th, 2009 at 7:46 am

  8. Leigh says:

    OK.. so I will share my real car buying experiences with the readers.

    My car buying is no rushed event… in almost everyone’s language $50K is not a purchase to take lightly.
    Shortlist made… I went into the lacal Ford dealer to look at the new Mondeo Titanium. The salesman was very pleasent and explained the features of the vehicle. I explained that I would not be able to take a test drive on that day, but I would be back.

    I returned a couple of weeks later, and was I am afraid greeted by an unctious salesman — almost, but not quite, of the type in your article. However, unlike the salesman in your article it seemed that it was not ‘convenient’ for me to take a test drive at that time. 3pm on a Friday afternoon? I was the only person in the dealership.

    It seemed it would all be more convenient if I returned when I was ready to buy. I can promise I will not be ready to buy a Ford Mondeo without a proper test drive.

    So, on the local Renault dealer to look at the Laguna. This time I booked a test drive. Yes, I would be back on the following Saturday afternoon at 1:30 to take the Laguna out for about an hour.
    I arrived on Saturday at 1:20… suddenly they had expected me at 10:30 and apparently had taken another booking for a 1:30 test drive. They promised to ring me back at about 3pm to confirm the car available to take for a drive.

    That was 5days ago. The phone still has not rung.

    I know that Private Fleet promises me that once I have determined what car I want to buy, they will get me a great deal.

    While I seem to be unable to actually obtain a test drive… well I will stay with what I have. I’m sorry… it is a crappy trade and those who ‘work’ in it [note the quotation marks] would not recognise a man with money burning a hole in his pocket if they fell over him.

    September 17th, 2009 at 9:44 am

  9. Greg says:

    Not wishing to enter a debate or criticise but my recent visits to purchase a new vehicle do reinforce those long perceived negative attitudes to car salespeople. They are there to sell and that is understood just that more truth and less spin would be good

    September 17th, 2009 at 10:51 am

  10. Oliver says:

    My wife and I decided to take advantage of the 50% investment allowance from the government and purchase a car on business rego.
    After visiting the dealership three times with various memers of the family we came down to two models.
    The end of model runout and the new model run in.
    With the superceded model we could get all the add ons without any extra charge.
    Unfortunately the safety features were better on the new model so we decided to go for that one.
    The salesman had told us three different versions of the benefits each time and I’m sure had no idea who we were despite speaking to my wife and myself between visits on the phone.
    None the less we let him do an ASIC check on our company details.
    He appeared and before you could say safety pack with after sales marketing plan, tinted windows, scratch and ding proofing, combined with zinc electrolytic antirust engine device. with a contract to sign.
    We wanted a quote from the finance dept. and an idea of the best tax effective contract for making realistic repayments.
    After that we had to sign and then be passed on to after sales and then the finance dept.
    We were told we could have any colour we liked as long as it was white.
    When we realized that we still had’nt test driven the car we had bought we asked if the salesman could arrange this . We then had to go back to the end of the que and wait.
    At this point we decided to do the end of month runout bolt.
    I rang back the next day to see what the situation was.
    I told him we had seen a car we liked elsewhere, and we would’nt be needing theirs, and was told that there was no cooling off period and that the car was on order and to await further notification.
    This was a dealership from which we had purchased three new cars in the past.
    I told them I would get legal advice which clearly showed that the execution of the contract was subject to finance being available. As we had not signed a finance agreement , only the sales contract, the sale was not valid.
    Sometimes these car salesmen forget to engage the brain while their mouths are in overdrive.

    September 17th, 2009 at 12:31 pm

  11. allen says:

    This article seemed a bit self-conscious and very American in its humour, which is not always understood by other English speaking tribes. I have been and was always proud to be a salesman but did not relate to the salesperson pictured so was surprised to note some posts that took exception to the stereotype. However we have another problem in Australia and that is those car salesperson who simply know nothing about motorcars nor for that matter about sales skills. What is he/she doing in a dealer’s salesroom? Good salespeople know not only their own but everything about a competitor’s product as well. Good salespeople don’t talk at you, they ask questions and then pitch their product to meet the needs established through those initial questions. That is not rocket-science guys. However I bought my most recent car (a Mazda 6 Classic) late last year despite encountering one of these salespeople who was a nice enough sort but did not know much if anything about his or the competitors products. The car itself and the financial deal at the time was good enough for me to buy despite this handicap of encountering poor selling skills. However Honda have twice in recent years made it into the final list of cars we were keen to buy, but then to lose the deal on lack of flexibility or a very poor understanding of sales skills. Two years ago we decided to buy a Honda Euro Accord for my wife. We wanted to trade in a Landrover Discovery which apparently required the trade-in car to be taken to another dealer to evaluate which was fair enough. When we came back at the agreed time to finalise the deal (in our minds to sign the purchase agreement) the salesman was busy with another prospect and only when we approached his desk di he acknowleged us and asked us to wait. We used this unexpected free time to head off to look at a competitor’s product and wound up buying that. The car was as good as the Honda but the salespeople far more flexible in every way. The sale literally had walked out the Honda dealership door and the salesman never realised it. In my day as a salesman if I had received the sort of buying signals my wife and I had been giving out, I would have bought the prospects lunch while the trade-in car was out and signed them up on return to the showroom. A similar thing happened when I bought the Mazda. The Honda salesman was inflexible and arrogant and again Honda lost the deal. The appalling Lexus story is another case in point. The sales manager should be fired for that. At no point does one leave a floor unattended even at the onset of Armageddon. Prospects honour you by entering your premises. They may or may not be ready to buy at that point but always return that compliment by dealing with them professionally.

    September 18th, 2009 at 10:51 am

  12. Ray Curtis says:

    Interesting comments some of these. I bought a new car last weekend in Melbourne, I had made a short list of 2 cars from 4 originally, a Toyota Aurion Sportivo V6 and the Honda V6 luxury. I had arranged with a dealer in Heidelberg to test drive the Honda, one hour before I told him I would arrive. He said no problem he had plenty to drive – so we duly arrived, he was busy with a customer, and we waited around 15 mins before another salesman arrived and asked if he could help, I told him I was waiting for Warren…. and we were there to test drive the Honda, he replied he had sold them all and there wasn’t now one to drive. Amazing, this in the middle of a major sales campaign, advertising 08 plated new vehicles $1000 off, 5 yr/140k warranty – 5 year premium roadside assistance, free rego, free CTP, free dealer delivery, and an accessories pack. I knew there were only 5 colours available but this was a good car, it won drive’s car of the year 2008 and all the road reports available on the internet raved about the car, and its technological advances, so being disappointed we just left, thinking what a waste of time, onto the next Honda dealer just a few more k’s down the road in Doncaster, here we were treated very quickly and politely with a situation on what was available, in the colour range, and within 10 minutes they had got 2 valuations from their “wholesalers” which tallied up with what I knew to be about what it was worth, and they had a bottom line changeover all done within 30 minutes, here was my first price and trade in benchmark, all done with a minimum of fuss and no pressure at all, we tried 2 other Honda dealers on this nice saturday, but what quickly became apparent was that there was so little 08 plated stock around the dealers, made us wonder why they bothered to have a sale, last weekend and again this one, at the last dealer I was looking for a gold beige car, who 2 hours earlier had plenty, but now could only give me a black one, but if I wanted to wait, I would get one next January, not wanting to wait and getting the phone run-a-round from 2 other dealers, I rang back to the first Honda dealer in Doncaster, and asked about the demo they were selling in my second favourite colour, which I now actually like more than the first, and over the phone we did a number, and the deal. Took delivery last thursday, and went to Albury and back this weekend, great mileage, did 530k’s and only took 44 litres to do it, this V6 shutting down to 4 then 3 cylinders does make a litre of petrol go a long way, most of the kilometres were done on the hume highway with the cruise set around 115kph, very impressed both with the car and the dealer

    September 20th, 2009 at 10:18 pm

  13. Lee Noonan says:

    Well, some great stories there.. and I think it may be the salesman/woman who makes all the difference in a sale…
    My Wife and I are looking at buying a new car.. something with good economy and My Wife hates how low she sits in Our current CE Lancer.. so something She sits in a bit higher.. So far We haven’t driven anything… We wanted to drive a Mitsubishi Colt automatic [CVT] but there aren’t any about… We were told at a very large multibrand dealership an hours drive away, the salesman wasn’t at all interested in selling Us anything in 35C heat, so We decided as we looked at other new vehicles on his lot, that If We found something We liked We would go elsewhere to drive/buy it . Next at a Toyota/Mitsubishi dealership We couldn’t find anyone to talk to… so from a Mitsubishi colt to a Hyundai Tucson – Kia sportage -Suzuki swift – VW POLO … It seems We will have to travel about 90 minutes to find some nice salesmen who have phoned after I sent emails…
    Who are interested in selling Me a new vehicle…
    Its Not easy when all You have locally is a Mazda/Honda dealer..

    Lee

    December 7th, 2009 at 9:28 pm