The first blog I ever wrote for The Daily Record, in August 2007, was about the first time in more than 26 years that I bought a new car from a non-family member.
So this weekend, my wife and I ventured into the used car arena.
One word: Oy.
The salesman at the first place we stopped was a complete dope. After telling him what we wanted to spend ($10,000), we admired a 2006 VW Jetta. The prices weren’t posted on the cars (which bugged me), so the salesdope had to run to get his price sheet. The Jetta was $15,000. I told him I was skeptical that he could get to $10,000, but he assured me he would check with his manager.
At the salesdope’s insistence — and against my better judgment — we test drove the car before he got the real price. And finally, about an hour later, he came back with the real price: more than $13,000. We walked out.
At the next dealership, things actually went well, up until the end. We found a Kia Spectra that we liked, that fit our budget (a little bit more than $10,000, but not 30 percent more). We struck a deal.
Then came the paperwork. And the paperwork showed a $750 “reconditioning charge.”
I didn’t think I had “sucker” stamped on my forehead.
I told the salesman I was very close to walking out. That we had a deal. He trotted out the, “well, I gave you the Internet price when you walked in, and we’re not making any money on the deal” line. (Does anyone actually believe that line?)
I told him I didn’t care. That he gave me a price, and that’s the price I would pay.
He offered to cut the reconditioning fee in half. I offered to walk out the door.
The reconditioning fee disappeared.
No names of dealerships here (although I thought long and hard about it). Not even any locations or brand names.
So is this typical? Am I just discovering what everyone who doesn’t have a relative in the car business already knows?