This was the fifth or sixth time Ben had gone to “talk to the guys in back” about my possible impending purchase of an automobile. I imagined guys dressed like stock brokers surrounded by receipts and studying my facial expressions through a camera or one-way mirror.
I had just told Ben that his dealership advertised a brand new car for what he was asking for a two-year-old car.
“No, that is impossible,” he said, dead serious. “Look, I want to give you a good deal. I want you to be happy. But I don’t know if the financial guys can make it work.”
Do I look like I’ve been living under a rock? First he pulls the “guys in the back of the room” routine like I’ve never seen a movie before. Then he assumes that neither I, nor anyone I know, understands how to use the Internet. But I decided to go with it. Use the innocent look to my advantage. I had no choice. I was in the game. Ten minutes later he returned.
“Weird. They told me that you CAN get the new car for that price. That’s so weird that I didn’t know that.”
“Wow, that is weird!” *slices room with sarcasm*
I ran this news by my Dad who happens to be a Car Guy, a guy who understands these mechanical things that we sit in to go places. I had him on the phone. Which brings me to my first Tip For Buying A Car.
TIP #1: Bring a Car Person. (Or keep them on the phone).
If you don’t know any Car People, then bring some testosterone. Testosterone? What?! Yes. If this sounds sexist, well, try working in the high levels of anything. A thirst for blood and dominance rises to the top. Despite all rational thought, I wanted Ben to like me. I wanted a positive relational experience. He was willing to eat me for dinner.
I held out for two hours. I wrote numbers down on a piece of paper and slid them to him. Finally, he gave in to my terms.
“The guys in the back said we can do it.”
He said it would be a few minutes and offered me some coffee. It had already been four hours and I was starving.
TIP #2: Bring some snacks. It’s going to be a long night/day.
And then I made my first mistake and reveled in my victory.
TIP #3: You’re not out of the woods. You’re never out of the woods.
“So, have I told you about the Pro Pack?…it comes with the car.”
“No, thanks. I’ll pass. I’ll just take the basic car.”
“You have have no choice. They put it on all the cars. It’s in the MSRP.”
(It’s not in the MSRP).
TIP #4: Get a hard copy of the MSRP.
“Why didn’t you just make that part of the final price of the car?! That’s FALSE ADVERTISING.”
“Let me talk to the guys in back and see what I can do.”
Fifteen minutes later he came back.
“For you, we can do it for $600.”
TIP #5: Refuse to pay for the Pro Pack!
And here is when my resolve began to break down like a styled coif in a hurricane. I was hungry. Dehydrated from too much Keurig coffee and into my fifth hour of playing telephone with “the guys in the back.”
TIP #6: Buying a car is a war of attrition. Bring reinforcements.
Clearly, they had primed me for this moment. Away from food, rest and friends and worn down by the effort of using my poorly developed negotiation muscles, I began to lose my footing. Had I been in a better state of mind I would have refused to pay for the Pro Pack on the sheer basis that I still did not know what it is. But I just wanted to get out of there. Another hour later I signed my life away. But not before Ben gave me a hundred different options for an extended warranty.
“It’s normally $2,000 but let me talk to the guys in the back and see what I can do.”
TIP #7: Stop talking to “the guys in the back.”
“I’m too tired to make a decision. Can I decide later?”
“If you want the deal, you have to do it tonight.
TIP #8: Say no to everything that has to be decided TONIGHT.
Finally, I drove the car home. I soon realized that the car didn’t have car mats, but I was too tired to care.
I woke up in the middle of the night in a panic. What have I done? WHY DID I GET THE PRO PACK? The next day I drove back to the dealership and Ben introduced me to The Guy In The Back.
“You got a very good deal.,” said a beefy looking guy with a crew cut. “Just do a some comparison pricing and you’ll see. You should be very happy. You could have said no to the deal.”
SHIT HE’S RIGHT.
“But it was bad customer service.”
TIP #9: When you’ve got nothing else, pull out the “bad customer service” card.
“How about we get you some car mats?”
They bought my forgiveness with car mats. (BTW, they cost $190…yes, I know you can get them at the car wash for $19.99 but these car mats are made out of “leather.”)
I think Ben was secretly sad when I left. We’d been through a lot together in the past 20 hours. I drove home so happy to have a car that’s safe and new and to not have to speak to a car dealer for at least five more years. I’m pretty sure drug trafficking is more regulated than car shopping.
TIP #10: Let it all go and be happy with your car.