We are in the market for a new car. By new car, I actually mean “new to us” rather than an actual new car with no previous owners. Procuring a real life actual new car would be simple. We’ve pretty much decided what features we want, we know what our particular deal breakers are – so waltzing into the local car dealer and saying “Gimme one of those. In white.” would be so easy, done, dusted and we’d be driving away, no more to pay in our new car.
But both of us are the relatively frugal types who object to handing over several months’ pay for something that will lose half its value in less than three years – neither of us is sure where this frugality in relation to cars comes from, as all of our parents drive spangly new cars that have replaced other spangly new cars, and will undoubtedly be replaced by other spangly new cars, assuming they live long enough to upgrade to another set of spangly new cars. And neither of us is particularly frugal in any other way. However, neither of us can see the point of effectively forking out an extra $20,000 for a smell, when you can buy one of those dangly smell thingies called “new car smell” for about $2. I digress.
Car shopping for us thusly entails trekking about car yards, sniffing about in other people’s prides and joys; and the copious trawling of carsguide, carsales, carpoint, gumtree and the perennial fave – ebay. So far, we’ve had some – shall we say interesting experiences. Now, we are after a seven seat vehicle with stability control, preferably one that doesn’t drive or look like a bus or a truck. Bluetooth and a reversing camera would be nice, and we’d really prefer any colour but black.
Most of the time, we’d get the hemming and hawing and “does it have to have seven seats?” Polite, albeit not particularly helpful.
After test driving a couple of cars, I decided I needed to try out another sort to help me make a decision so we pulled up at a likely looking car yard and wandered into the yard. After several unhelpful but polite discussions with a vast number of salesmen, I was not prepared for what happened next!
A stand-up argument ensued – with a used car salesman telling me in no uncertain terms that I didn’t NEED stability control on my vehicle of choice; it was a complete waste of money and it did absolutely nothing. He’d done all the crash test courses so he knew it was a joke. And there was NO CHANCE AT ALL that I would be able to get the car that I wanted for the money I had to spend. The expectations of some people.
Let’s back track a little. This is a used car salesman ARGUING with a potential customer and telling the customer that she doesn’t know what she wants. A stereotypical used car salesman, complete with blue tooth ear piece (and they *always* remind me of that episode of Doctor Who where everyone gets upgraded to be Cybermen), he was a red faced, overweight middle aged man.
And me? I was the Customer. Cold hard cashola in her hot little hand. Wanting to buy a car.
It’s all garbage, the government is ripping you off. That ad where the guy goes “pick that car that car that car don’t pick that car”? Well, he got PAID to appear in that ad.
Crikey. Who’d have thought it? Actors get paid to do commercials? Who. Would. Have. Thought? They’re not real people so they’re not telling the truth? You’ll be telling me that Omo won’t get my clothes whiter than white next. And that man in the toothbrush ad isn’t really a dentist.
So, I was supposed to be impressed by this, and bow to his superior manly knowledge (and walk out of there with the keys to a ten year old Hyundai Excel, one lady owner, only driven to church on Sundays). This was also the kind of chap who insisted that because he’d done several driving courses, he would be just as safe driving a car with no seat belt. Quite frankly, I would have liked to see that. Particularly the moment where he lost control of his car (because you don’t need stability control); and catapulted through the windscreen (because seat belts have nothing to do with counteracting the effect of physics on a moving body).
Instead, he insulted my intelligence; I insisted I was correct, he insisted I knew nothing. I did refrain from calling him a complete fuckwit to his face, but according to the Husband, the subtext was more than clear. After my exit, stage left, the man tried some more bluster with the Husband, only to be told we wants what we want. If we didn’t know what we wanted, he’d have more chance of selling us that Hyundai.
And we also know exactly where we will not be buying a car.
Pah. A pox on every one of his 35 alleged car yards.
Of course, this is only to be expected when one sets out to look at a car without sufficient caffeine in one’s system.
A second foray into the used car dealerships in a slightly bigger town (and slightly more caffeinated) lead us to being met with considerably less derision and much more of the “what was it that you wanted? Anything you don’t want? Let’s see what we can find…” and a lot less of “the little lady doesn’t know what she’s talking about” (at least to my face, anyway).
Yes, the customer is in fact always right. And we almost walked away with a car that met almost all of our specifications, too… It was already a bit over budget (we are frugal), and we weren’t prepared to raid the kiddies money boxes for that last few hundred dollars; and no way could the salesman move on that price…
Guess who called us today?
Still out of our league, and hey, the kilometres were a bit high for a three year old car.