Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Nurse the Hate: Hate Car Buying

I am currently buying a car.  This is one of the most frustrating experiences currently available in America, slightly ahead of having cable TV installed or trying to clear up an insurance snafu.  It isn’t the fact that the game has been set up that the car dealer tries to completely fuck you with a nod and a wink.  It isn’t the inherent dishonesty in the entire process.  It is the joy of being ripped off by low rent punks that don’t even attempt to conceal the fact that they are laughing at you all the way.

There is arguably no better time to be a consumer in America.  The sheer amount of information and disinformation available to a potential car buyer online provides more than enough ammunition to defend yourself should you foolishly wander into the pack of wolves that are most dealerships.  There was once a time when the buyer walked in like a little pink baby crawling through broken glass in a snake pit.  There was no chance of emerging unscathed.  As a car dealer once told me with wistful nostalgia, “It was like clubbing baby seals man.  People would come in looking for a blue car, leave in a pink pickup truck thinking they were the luckiest motherfuckers in the world.  Meanwhile I’m high fiving my way down the hall cause I just made $10,000 off this dumbfuck.”  Ah… The good old days…

There are good dealerships.  There are bad dealerships.  Without question the ones serving the lowest common denominator are the ones with “special sales”.  There is a huge population out there that is under the impression that there are BIG SAVINGS to be had with a “tent sale”.  Why would a retail operation discount their profit margins further after they have already spent an additional $3000 renting a big circus tent and the $20,000 in advertising telling rubes that there is a $3000 circus tent chock full of savings set up?  Does that make any sense?  But people go…

It never ends.  Example.  Hey!  It’s a 72 Hour Sale!  There is no reason that a sale that lasts three days, seven days, or a hundred centuries would offer savings.  The price is the price.  Margins have been set.  They have the same bottom line the day before the sale as the day of the sale as the day after the sale.  That 72 Hour Sale! crap is just to get the rubes attention.  “Holy fuck Marge!  That sale is going to be over on Wednesday!  We will never get $3000 trade in for that pretty pink pickup truck unless we get in there right fucking now!!!!”

This inevitably leads to the “$5000 Minimum Trade In” deal.  Anyone with half a brain realizes that if a car dealer is going to give $5000 for a $1000 1983 Buick LeSabre, that they have probably raised the price of the vehicle they are selling to make up that $4000 difference.  Yet, there are hillbillies white knuckling a ride to a dealership in a death trap car to some sort of “Push, Pull, or Drag” event where they think they are going to get over.  And that, really, is the entire point…

As Americans we must like the fact that the whole thing is an unwinnable game, like Vegas Strip blackjack.  We like the culture of Arab horse trading.  There is no other industry where we would put up with a culture of deception like this one.  Can you imagine walking into Sears to buy a grill and the experience was the same?

“Mr. Miller, I see you looking at the Weber, but have you looked at the Grillmaster 4000?  It received a 5 star rating for the American Grilling Association.”

Well, I really wanted the Weber… I read online that it’s a good one for the money and..

“Mr. Miller, it’s not that the Weber is bad, it’s just that the Grillmaster 4000 is an amazing value.  With over 14 feet of grill space, seven burners, a deep fryer, and popcorn maker, it’s all the grill you will ever need.  Let’s fire up a steak!”

Can I just get a price on the Weber?  I see that you have it listed for $1750 here in the store but everywhere else online I saw it was $500…

“Well Mr. Miller, I’m sure you understand that we do a five point safety inspection on all of our grills, and that is reflected in the deluxe price.  I’ll tell you what… Let me talk to my manager and see what I can do.  First, can you give me your license so I can make a copy of it for your convenience?  It’s our policy.”

Well, I guess…  Is this going to take long?

“No sir!  I’ll be back in just a second!”

(25 Minutes Later)

“Mr. Miller.  I have some great news.  I was able to talk to my manager, and he allowed me to discount the price of the Weber to $1748.  Also, just for the heck of it, I had him give me a price on the Grillmaster 4000.  You’d better sit down… He has authorized me to offer you the Grillmaster 4000 for just $129 a month.  That’s the best grill on the planet for $129 a month.”

But I want the Weber…

“Mr. Miller?  Are you really going to turn down the greatest grill in America for only $129 a month?  For just about $4 a day, you can have the 5 star rated grill that I myself bought last year.  I couldn’t be happier.  So… What will it take to get you in that grill today?”

I really just want the Weber at the $500 I see everyone else sells it for… Can I get my license back so I can leave?  I’ll just get it somewhere else.

“Mr. Miller… What if I were to offer you a set of steak knives if you were to buy that Grillmaster 4000 right now.  No extra cost.  Steak knives and the best grill on the planet.  Right now.  Can I get you to commit?  Right now?”

I think I want to leave.  Can I have my license back?

“Of course.  I left it with my manager.  Let me go get it for you.  I’ll be right back.”
(35 Minutes Later)

“Hi Mr. Miller! I’m Chuck, the sales manager here.  I understand you want your license back so you can leave, and I am absolutely going to give that to you, but first can you do one thing for me?”

What’s that?

“Can you fire up that Grillmaster 4000?  I would feel it would be a crime for me to let you leave without tasting a steak cooked on this baby!”

(The shot fades to me lugging an enormous grill to my car while those two asshole sales guys are laughing at me through the store window in their cheap short sleeve dress shirts and name tags.  The Weber sits alone in the back corner among a huge showroom of cheap quality Chinese Political Prisoner Built Grillmaster 4000s.  I will pay $129 a month for 72 months and feel shame every time I grill a hot dog from that point on.  It will be the symbol of my failure as a man.)

I don’t know how this whole car negotiation is going to go.  I am doing my best, but let’s face it, I am probably up against an adversary which has no soul.  The best I can hope for is to get “kinda fucked” instead of “really fucked”.  All I know for sure is that if you see me in a pink pickup truck, do me a favor.  Tell me you like it and nod with appreciation when I tell you “I got a good deal!”.        


At May 1, 2014 at 3:33:00 PM EDT , Blogger Rhonda Burgess said...

Yep. I guess one just has to be wise and tread carefully when going through these places to get a car. I mean, the form can be very deceiving: it looks nice on the outside, but apparently is faulty in so many ways. And with stuff as fragile as cars, it only takes the most miniscule details to create the biggest mishaps. But the buyer is armed with the right information, it could easily be spotted and avoided.

Rhonda Burgess

At May 2, 2014 at 9:14:00 AM EDT , Blogger Greg Miller said...

You should see the badass pink pickup truck I just bought!

At June 23, 2014 at 2:15:00 PM EDT , Blogger Sarah Erwin said...

Hi Greg! Have you posted any update about your pickup truck? I understand the stress you experienced, which was brought upon by car shopping. I really hope you're satisfied with the results. While other never loved the tough process, it’s still best to focus on the car that you’ll drive in the end, right? Take care! :)

Sarah Erwin @ Baldwin Subaru


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