Saturday, April 29, 2017

Car Shopping

There comes a time in every car's life when the repairs cost more than the car is worth. And when it's not safe to drive because you just know the transmission is going to fail at any minute, even though the two different shops you took it to can't seem to repeat the symptoms you're describing to them. Well, that just happened to one of our cars. Thus, we recently went through the dreaded process of shopping for and buying a new car. And during this process, we encountered some of the worst and the best people in the business.

We started to visit dealerships after we had narrowed our choices of what we wanted. At the dealerships, we were approached by a sales person as we walked in the door. I think they take shifts on who is on front-line duty as we were only approached by one person in each place. We saw the cars, asked our questions, and took the person's card because we wanted to honor the time they spent with us since they work on commission.

In between these onsite visits, we registered with Costco and True Car program through our credit union. Dealers have agreed to honor set prices for those participating in these programs.. After your online registration, sale people start contacting you either by email or phone or both. What all this means is that we had several dealers contacting us about buying a car, some we had seen in person, and some we hadn't. Whatever the case was, we tried to honor the first point of contact.

And here's where it gets interesting.  At one dealership, we had only spoken on the phone and exchanged emails with Kevin, so we asked for him when we visited. The person who approached us as our front-line contact said Kevin wasn't there that day and proceeded to wait on us. We listened, took his card, and left. Something didn't feel right, so we sat in the parking lot and called Kevin. And guess what? Kevin was at work that day.

On the other side of town at another dealership, our first contact was in person with a very nice young man, Mike. Later we got a call from Barry, who represented the Costco program there. So when we went back, we weren't sure who to talk to. Barry stepped up and started to work with us. However, do you do you know what Barry did? He called over Mike and showed him how to handle the paper work. Also, Barry said that Mike could have all of the commission on this sale. They were both so nice and such a contrast from our earlier encounter, we wanted to buy a car from each one of them.

But alas, we didn't. And we didn't buy from Kevin or his dishonest co-worker, either. We bought from a third dealership where we dealt with a low pressure, friendly, knowledgeable salesman. Turns out he had the best car and the best deal.

So there you have it. How we got our shiny, new car that doesn't surge every time the transmission changes gears. And how we learned there are a lot of nice, honest people out there, but you have to keep your radar on just in case.