Nora finally retired her PT Cruiser. It was her second one and she took it pretty hard.
It’s a terrible time to buy a car, especially a used one.
But buying a new car just seems profligate, so Nora hit google, looking for something about the same size as a Cruiser, but with a manual transmission. Stick shifts are more fun, are much less likely to be stolen, and it’s a good way to severely limit the net you cast. Like with the college search, you need some way to narrow the field.
The Kia Soul ticked all the boxes, so Nora started sniffing around. We used to buy exclusively through Craigslist and friends of friends, but our last car purchase was from CarMax and we appreciated the no-hassle (and no-haggle) approach.
CarMax had Souls, but the sticker shock sent a jolt through us, so she kept looking. Eventually, she found a 2018 with 37,000 miles in Glen Burnie. It was being offered for $17,000 online. Or $4,500 more than we have ever paid for a car before. Chalk it up to a combination of inflation, supply chain whatevers, and it being the youngest thang we’d ever flirted with.
We showed up, test drove it, and fell in like. It was a first date, and we wanted to be able to ghost her if her parents weren’t cool.
Put Through the Wringer
What’s the opposite of cool? That’s what we experienced next.
I was expecting some minor additional costs and negotiating, but we were floored when they came out with a contract for $21,500. It had the internet price plus a $2k improvement fee, $1k titling fee, and on and on.
It was Nora’s search so I let her take the lead, while I hit the lounge, then the carousel:
Nora to the Sales Kid: “I have a budget of $17,000. If you can’t meet that, we’ll look somewhere else.”
Kid: “Let me talk to my boss. I’m sure there is something we can do for you.”
A too-long wait, then he returns with a big smile and a “I think you’ll be very pleased with what we are able to do for you.” The bottom line offer now read $19,800.
Nora doesn’t like to negotiate and I could tell she was starting to get annoyed: “It sounds like we are too far apart. We are going to keep looking.”
Kid: “Wait wait, let me talk to my boss. I’m sure we can make you happy.”
He disappears and I ask Nora what she wants to do. I can tell she wants to hightail it out of there, but she doesn’t want to abandon the Kid. “It’s only good breeding that keeps us here,” she says.
Coincidentally (?), around the same time, this B2B sales tactic pops up in my LinkedIn feed:
One of my connections commented: “I mean no offense, but this is why people hate and don’t trust salespeople”
Back to the Dealership
After another long wait, a mammoth guy lumbers out of Hollywood central casting. “I hear you want to see me.”
Nora, under her breath: “Not really, but let’s see what you got.”
He presents a “fantastic new offer” for $17,600. She gives me a look, then surrenders. “It was worth $600 not having to do this again,” she told me later.
We are ushered to the business office where they are irritated we are paying in cash. “Verify everything is correct before you sign it,” the loafered accountant drones.
Nora reviews everything, cocks her head, and calmly announces, “Looks good, except this says $14,500 and we agreed to pay $17,600.”
The accountant suddenly comes to life, swivels decisively to his phone, and intones into it, “Kaden, I need you to come to the business office RIGHT NOW.”
He hangs up and swivels slowly back. “Thank you,” he says, “You probably saved someone’s job.”
You know how sometimes you take a yummy bite of something, then a nasty aftertaste hits you? This was the opposite. We suffered through a few hours of obnoxious obfuscation and hard-nosed negotiation, but then I had the pleasure of seeing Nora doing the right thing and being validated for it.
I love Nora’s shiny new green car. I love Nora even more. 🙂