Looking at New Cars

Years ago I talked to my grandmother who had just bought a new car. (Don’t ask me what it was…Bob knows.) Anyway, she was excited about it as she had a big trip planned. Then a few days later I got a letter from her complaining that the salesman must have drugged her because she got a letter showing her signature and agreement to pay $300 a month for some extended length of time. Those who knew my grandma will be nodding their heads–grandma was eccentric and had some reality issues. I dismissed her problem as just that until yesterday.

Now I think I might have inherited some of her genes…at least the one with the inability to “just say no”. There I was with a simple mystery shop at the local car dealership.

My mission was easy enough: go for a test drive, get a price and get out. Bob had his doubts about this shop…I never, never go when he buys a car. He excels in dealing (in fact I remember Rebecca pleading to go in to the “sweat box” with dad). To me it’s like haggling in Mexico. Why can’t we just pay a reasonable sticker price and go home? But I assured him I, an educated woman, could handle the job. Wow! Was I wrong!

Oh, at first it seemed easy enough. There was the nice young man just waiting for me as I drove in. “Park here,” he invites and then politely waits until I am out of the car. “How can I help you this wonderful day?” Well, I should have known then that I was in trouble. But I smile and we head off to look at the cars. I have a specific vehicle to check out. “Oh,” he tells me, “What a great choice! This car has all of these terrific features.” He shows me all of them and then sneaks in the, “You really should take this car out for a test drive.”

“Hey, this is a pretty nice car,” I think. Then I remember and tell myself to focus… We take the car out for a spin and I decide the car is as nice as the salesman. As we get back in the lot he asks me if I’d like him to just run some numbers. Part of my evaluation is to get a price so I agree.

It all seemed so innocent. “This will just take a few minutes…” and then, “Are you interested in trading your car?” And before I knew it the salesman was back but he brought another guy.

“We really want you to be happy,” they say. “How about a $750 a month payment?”

It seems pretty steep to me so I think I can easily get out of here with a quick, “No, thank you. I’ll need some time to think about it.”

Apparently, I was only fooling myself as the salesman’s pal stands up and says he’ll be right back. He returns less than 30 seconds later with a better price. I again remind him that I’m not ready to make a deal and he leaves, returning this time with no less than the store owner. “What can we do to make you happy?” asks the owner, a very nice man.

At this point I start to think about my grandmother. It feels like there might be some fog setting in as it’s getting harder for me to think. Thankfully, the owner steps back out but the sales pal comes rushing back in. “You have such great credit! You could finance the whole car!” They’ll give me twice the value for my current car. AND THEN… here comes my salesman…with a tray of fresh baked COOKIES!

“Yikes!” I say to myself. “This is much harder than I thought.” So one more time I say no, this time more emphatically. Sales pal guy feverishly scratches out all the other numbers and with each “NO” he writes something lower. I think, “If I don’t leave soon, they’ll be giving me the car!” And once more I remember my grandmother getting that letter listing her new car payment. I have to get out of here…now!

Fortunately for me, I manage to drag myself to my feet. And even more fortunately, the salesmen allow me to walk out. As I prepare to write my report I can’t help but think that this time Bob was right. I’m not really cut out to just look at a new car.

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