Monday, March 31, 2008

Notes for a car dealer

One of the things that my mom wanted to do while she was here in Colorado was buy a new car. So for the past couple weeks, we've been researching cars ... more specifically small SUVs.

My mom needs an SUV, or at least a car with all-wheel drive, simply because of the conditions she drives in in California and here in Colorado. She also likes the cargo room that SUVs offer.

The first step in the mom's-buying-a-car process consisted of going to the dealerships and sitting in the cars. Sitting. That's all. Not driving. We sat in the driver's seat, the passenger seat and the rear seats. Then we inspected all of the cars' nooks and crannies.

It was then that we got to meet some car salesmen.

I have some advice for car salesmen: Women are not stupid and do not need to be talked down to. Just so you know.

I mean, the world of the Internet has opened up a plethora of information and all we really need of you, dear car salesmen, is to unlock the doors. We can deal with the rest.

Things we liked in cars (not considering safety — because all cars are pretty safe these days — and fuel economy — which was very important to my mom) is a place to put your purse while driving. As women, we take our purses with us most of the time and it has to go somewhere.

After going through the "sitting in the car" phase, we moved on to the "drive the car" phase. This is an important step. We learned a lot about these cars.

Probably one of the most important things is seat comfort. All those safety features 'n' shit are important, but if the seat is uncomfortable it's going to suck driving that car. We found that several of the small SUVs have small seats. Seats designed for regular to small people. We are not regular to small, we are big people and therefore big seats.

Also, while leather seats and millions of doo dads are nice, my mom wasn't really interested in that. She was interested in comfort, reliability and fuel economy.

After driving many cars she finally decided on the 2009 Subaru Forester. Yes, in March of 2008 we were looking at the 2009 Forester. She sat in the 2008 Forester and found the interior too small and confining. The salesman was quick to comment that Subaru had redesigned the Forester for 2009 and they just happened to have a couple.

She finished test driving the other SUVs pretty much knowing that she wanted the 09 Forester in blue ... with the sunroof that she didn't want until she saw how big it was in the Forester.

And she was right, she liked the pep of the Subaru four-cylinder better than the other and the Subaru's interior was head and shoulders better than the domestics. She had made her decision. Now came the negotiation.

Here's another piece of advice for car salesmen: If you make with a customer, be on time. Twice my mom had to wait for a salesmen when she had an appointment.

One of the times was when she was going in to actually buy the car. So she was already annoyed and when the dealership wouldn't negotiate and were uncertain when they could get the exact car she wanted, she walked.

My mom's awesome that way. She walked out of the only Subaru dealer in town, despite the fact that she really wanted that car.

So we took again to the Internet and I found her car ... in Longmont.

My mom called the Longmont dealer and the dealer in Glenwood Springs. And because my mom was going to write a check for the car, she held all the power.

The Glenwood Springs dealer didn't have the blue one, but they said they could get one. The Longmont guy had the car but was 200 miles away. The Longmont guy agreed to my mom's price AND to drive it to our house.

Then the Glenwood Springs guy agreed on the prise and promised the car would be at their dealership the next day.

My mom told the Longmont guy we were going with the Glenwood Springs guy; he offered more money off.

Now she was just having fun.

After weeks of research and getting treated both bad and good by dealerships, she was the one with the control. Then she started feeling guilty. I told her that this is they way that the car dealerships made it with all the bickering and dealing and bullshit. She had the power and she should take advantage.

She told the Glenwood Springs guy of the Longmont guy's additional discount and he matched it. And it was done.

We drove the next day to Glenwood Springs and bought her car. But not before she got calls from other dealers offering more money off other cars.

So we learned a valuable lesson and one more bit of advice for car dealers: We're on to you. We know how you deal and we don't trust you no matter how big your smile. We're going to wait you out until you call begging to give us a better deal.

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