A New Car- A Tale of Woe or is it Whoa!

In theory the idea of purchasing a new car is very exciting but navigating the pitfalls and challenges of it can be quite taxing. It takes guts, determination, tenacity and the ability to just roll with the punches because the car manufacturers have developed a strategy in which they try to wear you down so that they can suck as much money out of you as possible.

If you are not prepared it can almost make the idea of repairing your old car seem more palatable. Actually the reality is that sometimes that is the smarter move, but not in all situations. Sometimes it does make more sense to repair the older vehicle and keep that running a bit longer.

In my current situation I am not willing to do that, I hate the idea of plying this vehicle with any more money than it has already received from me. The car reminds me of a girl I dated in college. It takes and takes and takes and then when I am ready to walk gives just a little and then it is back to the same old song and dance.

Fortunately in college I learned how to do more than chug beer and function on three hours of sleep and one day I just might share those things with you, but today is not that day. Today I am here to share a little bit about my most recent experience with the car dealer. It is the condensed version. It was another Honda dealer that I had been to once before to test drive an Odyssey.

I returned because the salesman was low key, did not try and pressure me, had all of his teeth, and seemed to be more like a real person than a hyperactive muppet. Just for kicks I’ll try including photos of the outside and the interior.

I am so glad to see that it worked because it is nice to know that when you work hard at something you can get it done. Because the time at the dealer made me wonder if I’d ever see the sunshine again.

Part of the challenge/problem with this car purchase nonsense is that unless you are willing to subject yourself to having a hot poker shoved where the sun don’t shine you cannot figure out what the price of the vehicle will be. Oh sure you can find a ton of information online and get a sense of what the MSRP and dealer invoice is not to mention the calculators you can use to determine what the monthly payments will be, but you still don’t find out what YOUR vehicle will cost until you sit down at the desk.

So we sat down and dickered and then waited for the salesman to return. I looked around noticed that there was a phone with an intercom system and wondered if the room was bugged. Since I am a playful sort of fellow I tried testing it out by making some colorful comments about the people around us and the salesman. It must have been turned off or they were very good actors because there was no response.

After a good 10 minutes of waiting our salesman returned and placed a number down in front of me and said I was going to be very happy. Here is a little of that exchange:

Them: Jack, smile you are about to drive off in your new car.
Me: I don’t smile when I don’t know why I am smiling.

Them: You can smile because I got you a fabulous price.
Me: Don’t take this personally but you didn’t get me anything. That guy wearing the obnoxious Hawaiian shirt is making the decisions here. As soon as we sat down you got relegated to flunky status. I used to sing a song where I said “Don’t you take me to Flunkytown” but people thought that it was obnoxious. Ok, it is obnoxious but the point is that you are not calling the shots here.

Them: No, I really am a much bigger part of this than you think.
Me: Good cop, bad cop won’t fly with me. I am a salesman and I play this negotiating game all day long. Let us save some time, ask him to come over here. I’ll tell him that you are a great salesman, but we all know that you cannot make the call. So let’s cut through this.

Them: (Nervous giggle) I’ll see what I can do.
Me: Ten minutes later he returns to say that the boss man is tied up. I remind him that I can see him and the boss man through the amazing glass doors in the office.

Them: What would it take to earn your business today?
Me: A much better offer than you have made. You said that it would be X and I am at Y. Can you get there? If you come back with an offer that is not within 20% of what I want I am walking.

Them: Why did you say 20%?
Me: Because I don’t want to be the only reindeer that doesn’t get to play the reindeer games. Why should you be the only one who uses obscure mathematical formulas.

Them: (He leaves and returns and hands me an offer)This is close to what you are looking for but unless you put more down we cannot do better.
Me: Sure you can, I am trading in a Honda Accord. Give me more for the trade-in

Them: Ok, give me your keys and we’ll evaluate the car. He returns and offers a $1,000.
Me: Sorry, it looks like we are at an impasse. We’re going to leave.

Them: Please don’t go, I can ask if he can do better,
Me: Fine, but if takes you more than five minutes to get an answer we’re done.

Them: I can give you $2,000 for the car. If you take that and give me X in addition as a down payment we can hit the mark you are looking for.
Me: Later on I am going to be blogging about you and this experience.

Them: What is a blog?
Me: It is short for weblog and the it is the place where millions of people will read about whether I enjoyed this.

Them: How many people read you each day?
Me: Untold numbers, it is the Net we are talking about. Don’t forget that I count among my readers some exceptionally popular and powerful bloggers such as Citizen of the Month, Treppenwitz, The Shmata Queen , PsychoToddler and Toner Mishap which I should add is known throughout Los Angeles for the biting commentary of The Misanthrope, On The Mark and B2

Them: Who are these people, especially that PsychoToddler.
Me: They are highly sophisticated and affluent consumers who write columns that other consumers read. It would be good to keep me happy and in return them. It could provide you with a huge boost in your sales.

Them: Really?
Me: Yes.

Within 30 minutes of mentioning these powerful consumer blogs the price had dropped again and we were very close to a deal. The original salesman now had assistance from a manager who was trying to close the deal. I had trouble focusing on the manager because he had the thickest unibrow I had ever seen. It is not nice to say this, but it looked like there was a catepillar stuck between his eyes, Each time he spoke he would furrow his brow and the catepillar would move.

Just as we were nearing the end it became apparent that they had returned to the tactic of trying to wear us out, so we upped the ante and walked out on them. They tried hard to keep us from doing so, but I wanted to make a point.

So I reminded them that the original price had consistently dropped by fives and 10s and that if we looked at things we would see that on a monthly basis it was $80 less than when we had started. I expressed my displeasure with this because they could have save us time by just doing that in the beginning.

A short time ago they called to try and convince me to return. The new offer is about $20 a month than I want to spend. I am going to sit tight and see if they budge. In the interim I have emailed 5 other dealers to see if any of them will beat their offer. This process like this post could be condensed into a much smaller container.

But I have to admit, I kind of enjoy this.

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  1. Jack's Shack July 19, 2005 at 8:10 pm


    Whomever you are, that is a fine confession.

  2. PsychoToddler July 19, 2005 at 1:50 pm

    Ok, here’s a True Confession (TM):

    For the purchase of my Geo, I got someone to “stand in” for me with the dealer. My “I don’t want to pay tax on this” wife took her friend’s “I won’t take crap from a salesman” husband to go negotiate for the car. He pretended to be me.

    We got a good price on the car!

  3. Jack's Shack July 19, 2005 at 1:31 pm


    I am not bothered by it in the slightest. Some sales people are horrible and the car business out here is home to many of them.

    It is not constructed with the consumer in mind. I am not fond of them either and if you ever saw me negotiate with them you could see that I am very tough on them because they are unnecessarily difficult.

  4. treppenwitz July 19, 2005 at 10:29 am

    Jack… I know you’re a salesman and all so don’t take this the wrong way…

    …but with the exception of my present vehicle, every single time I have gone into a dealership to buy a car I have ended up wanting to hit the salesman in the face until he is dead.

    I know, that sounds a bit harsh… but I can’t stand the shell game they play with numbers and the out-and-out lying about what is and isn’t possible/who is calling the shots.

    I have walked out of more dealerships than I can count. I have called car salespeople ‘lying sons of b*tches’ and ‘f*cking *ssholes’ to their faces before doing so. Even when you get close to the price you walked in looking for these slimy people still make you feel like you’re the mark at a three-card-monty table.

    Here in Israel there is no negotiating for cars. Each manufacturer has one representative in the country who holds the monopoly on that make. The price is the price. Between the monopoly and the 100+% taxes on vehicles it costs a fortune to buy a car here. But for the first time in my life I was smiling when I left the dealership with our new car. Why? Because for the first time I knew for a fact that I hadn’t been singled out to be screwed!

    Did I mention that I’m not really fond of salespeople? 🙂

  5. Jack's Shack July 19, 2005 at 4:45 am

    Why didn’t you tell me we had such power. Crap. I just bought a new car too.


  6. The Misanthrope July 18, 2005 at 11:33 pm

    Why didn’t you tell me we had such power. Crap. I just bought a new car too.

  7. Jack's Shack July 18, 2005 at 8:07 pm

    Whoa, so many people commenting I am not sure where to go or what to do. Ask any salesman I deal with and they’ll tell you that I am a little off kilter. I kind of enjoy it that way.

    No worries about paying sticker price, if you show that you have done some homework these guys buckle a bit.

  8. Stacey July 18, 2005 at 6:48 pm

    Mrs. B. is so right. That’s pretty much how I got my steal on my Honda Odyssey.

    All of my friends who have Toyota Sienas told me that you can’t negotiate on Odysseys, because they don’t stay on the lot.

    Uh, wrong. I waited not just until the end of the month, but the end of the year. I went in on Dec. 30th and got $2500 off sticker. Woohoo. I told the husband to sit there and look handsome and I’d handle it. And we drove it home that day. The exact color I wanted, too.

    Hold out for what you want to pay, not a dollar more. And yes, mention the holdbacks.

  9. PsychoToddler July 18, 2005 at 6:29 pm

    Cool! I just cross posted with my wife, and she still managed to insult me!

  10. Mrs. Balabusta July 18, 2005 at 6:20 pm

    Never ever take the PT Car buying unless you want to pay the sticker price.

    there is a number on the bottom of the sheet that is invoice. If you know where to look, you can find that too.

    then you say these words in exactly this order – “I know you can give me this car for 2000 under invoice and still make money on the holdback.” I don’t know what a holdback is exactly, but it makes car salesmen nervous that you think you do.

    Also, the Odyssey is the hottest minivan out there and they don’t have to deal on them, people are paying sticker price without financing. They may very well sell the car you want. I would take their latest offer, or wait until the end of the month, when the dealer has to make payments on each car left in his lot.

  11. PsychoToddler July 18, 2005 at 6:19 pm

    All quake and tremble at the sound of the mighty PsychoToddler!

    Is this true, btw? Did you actually mention blogging during your negotiation? Because if you did, you automatically got catalogued as a crackpot by this guy. Unless he’s a blogger. And then he’s reading this right now.

    Hi! Hi Mr. Car Salesman! I’m the mighty Psychotoddler! Don’t mess with my friend Jack. That’s probably not even his real name!

    Also, whatever price you end up with, they will tack stuff on afterwards to bring it back to what they wanted anyway. I remember negotiating the salesman down for my van to a monthly price of 250 or something. And by the time we were done with extended warrantees, and insurance, and Gd only knows what else, we were back to close to 350.

    One last thing (says Columbo)…

    I love new car brochures. I think I still have the one from my first Plymouth Voyager from ’89.

  12. Jack's Shack July 18, 2005 at 5:52 pm


    So I am quickly learning.

  13. B2 July 18, 2005 at 4:53 pm

    I hope that dropping our name helped; we have that effect sometimes.

  14. Jack's Shack July 18, 2005 at 5:10 am

    Nah, he was a native Angeleno, but the guy he works with is from cleveland. Not only does he wear dentures but he has numerous mental/emotional issues from being forced to drink the Cuyahoga water.

  15. Stacey July 18, 2005 at 5:08 am

    “had all of his teeth”

    If he had all his teeth, he must not have been a native LA’er.

  16. Jack's Shack July 18, 2005 at 4:50 am


    My apologies.


  17. ClooJew July 17, 2005 at 10:39 pm

    You forgot, lulei demistafina, to include me in your list of dedicated readers.

  18. Karen July 17, 2005 at 10:01 pm

    Good luck – I hope it works out! 😀

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