Monday, January 14

My life is a haggle-free zone

I mustered up the huevos to visit Covington Pike today, just to look around at new cars to see what might strike me (it is hard to get a feel for cars just by doing internet research) as being "me."

Within two nanoseconds of my feet hitting the pavement at Dobbs Honda, a salesman — Larry — was on it, up in my grill, wanting to know if I wanted to take a new Honda home with me. Uh, yeah, I sure do. Are they free? That's a hell of a promotion.

Anyhoo, I was sizing up the new Civics and asked Larry if they also sold Fits. He led me over to a row of them, both the basic and the sport models. Damn, they are cute. I peered at the stickers in the window, and then into the window. I have no idea what I was looking for; all the interiors were identical. But that's what you do — look into the windows until you think of a question to ask. Larry and I were running out of things to talk about, so I asked if I could get into one. He went and got the keys for me and hopped into the passenger side as I slid awkwardly into the driver's seat and fumbled to adjust it to accommodate my short legs.

I asked him what bells and whistles the standard model came with, and he turned the car on and pointed out all the -dometers. I love a car that has an instrument panel that looks like a space ship. It appeals to my inner dumbass because it makes me feel like I'm doing something complicated that a monkey couldn't do.

Larry asked me if I wanted to take it for a drive, and I said suuuuure! and drove veeeerrrry slowly around the other cars to get out onto the highway. God, it sucked driving with Larry watching. Despite the stupid number of wrecks I've had (three that were my fault, one that wasn't), I maintain that I'm a pretty good driver. But I rarely flex my driving muscles for complete strangers. It weirds me out. I feel like they're judging me, silently ticking off minor infractions and wondering what podunk DMV let me onto the road (Hardin County, thanks). Just like the driving test I took when I was 15, we made four right turns and ended up right where we started. Except I had to back the thing back into its parking space. Which was easy! Because it's tiny.

Only not annoyingly tiny. It's way more roomy than you'd think. Granted, I didn't get out and roll around in the back seat to see how roomy it is, but I could tell from looking that it would seat friends or gobs of random crap equally as comfortably. The seats fold totally down to fit more cargo. Even the front seat folds down if you need to haul long things. I don't do a lot of hauling, but I do like the idea of hauling crap.

The driving itself was pretty smooth. I had read reviews/threads complaining about how the Fit will, if you stop accelerating, kind of jerk and slow itself down instead of coast (I'm sure this has a name), and I did feel that periodically. Kind of annoying. But overall it was a smooth ride and I didn't crash into anything, so there's that to be happy about.

I've decided, though, that when I venture back out to the car lots to look at my next round of cars, I'm going to have to invent some kind of persona to put on. I just can't be me around these car salesmen because THEY WILL EAT ME ALIVE. They ask polite questions and I get diarrhea of the mouth and give them the full story. Larry — who, to his credit, wasn't aggressive at all — knows all about why I HAVE to buy a car now, and fast. As I was telling him about my situation, I was wincing on the inside. Pokerface, pokerface, pokerface! Don't got one. I was just making conversation in that silent car. I suppose I should have turned on the radio, to check it out. But I was terrified of crashing the damn thing if I took my hands off the wheel for even a second.

So, next time, I'll be shopping as Tammy, the young single mother who has raised ten kids in nine years and who chain smokes, has tattooed knuckles, worked on cars at her ex-boyfriend's body shop, wears tapered jeans, and does not take shit from anyone. I'll start working on my accent now.

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Blogger nashgirl said...

I know the feeling. I just bought a new used car and had to drag my entire family along as backup from the dealership to the bank to the car lot. But it was relatively stress free, once I had decided on a car I liked.

Tue Jan 15, 10:46:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You should just look the dude squarely in the eyes and say, "I work in sales. I'm not buying today. I'll let you know if I need anything so I don't waste your time. And no you can't have my number. Good day." That'll send 'em along back to their coffee and their list of people to bother.

Tue Jan 15, 12:03:00 PM  
Blogger Lighthouse Pilot said...

You should also do the math yourself. Take a good look at the sticker that bad boy down, go home, calculate your tax and figure out what your monthly note is going to be. Know your maximum, but don't tell them. Give them a lower figure. Car salesmen use this tool called the four square which has different numbers in it. The total price, their cut, and some other crap I forget. They can talk down one square while talking up another and keep an eye on their profit the whole time. They act like you're getting the best deal, but instead they're just moving figures around to suit their bottom line. They figure out the maximum you're willing to pay each month and they also figure in how much profit they want to make. Don't let them talk you up ANY higher than you're willing to go. I did the math beforehand and when the salesman tried to tell me it was going to be just under $300 I corrected him with my figure of $230 something. There was nothing he could do. He knew I was right and he couldn't sneak in his other crap. Sneaky bastards. Also know what you want and don't want. If you don't want an extended warranty...don't let them talk you into it. Most extended warrenties aren't worth it.

Tue Jan 15, 12:17:00 PM  
Blogger Chris and Kate Lareau said...

First, really excellent post. Loved it. Second, I am a complete pushover and I bought my current volkswagen at a heckuva price because I, too, pretended to be someone else. I hadn't developed my persona as thoroughly as you have w/Tammy, but it still worked. Rock it.

Tue Jan 15, 02:14:00 PM  
Blogger ml said...

I just bought a Nissan Versa. I needed a car fast and I thought I was getting a deal. You might want to give one a test drive.

Tue Jan 15, 03:36:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Having your own financing up front is a great way to get the upperhand, I've discovered, too. If you know how much you want to pay for the car and get a check from your bank for that much, it makes the haggling a lot easier. But it is exhausting; when I bought the Civ it only took about an hour to settle on a price (but I really, really loved my car salesman. I know that sounds weird, but we actually had a good time buying from him--he was hilarious), but I felt like I had worked a 12-hour shift. My body ached.

Wed Jan 16, 07:59:00 AM  

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