I confess I never purchased a Saturn vehicle but I sure liked that company’s no hassle price, especially after spending five and a half hours at a particular dealership.
The first rule of used car buying, I was told by a former used car salesman, is to go in knowing what amount the bank or credit union will lend you. I had been through Edmunds and Kelly Blue Book so I had a ball-park idea in my head, but I did not head out on my car buying excursion with a note from the credit union in hand. I knew what was out of my price range.
I bit on a flyer for a small 4-door at $85/month. (My bad, of course there was only one at that price and it had already sold… although it did lead me to the dealer’s Website to check out a few cars; also already sold. Heaven forbid that someone update the site.)
Car dealerships, at least this one, do things a bit backwards these days: There is no sticker on the window giving cost and mileage and data because, we were told, “car prices change constantly”.
My fiancé and I were greeted by a finance guy rather than a salesman. “Do you have an appointment?” “No.” Since when do I need an appointment to buy retail? This is not a Rolls Royce or a diamond from Tiffany’s. He invited us inside to his desk then asked me what I had in mind.
“Low miles, well-maintained. Used.”
He inquired what I could afford in between telling us that he had been in finance for nine years, had been upside down in multiple houses in Detroit and lost them all and now he was traveling with this clearance event.
I am annoyed. “I don’t want to talk about finance until I see if there is anything I like.” Off we go to the lot.
At this point, please begin to keep in mind that I was not born with the shopping gene.
Of course, my eyes were drawn to the blue car. A Ford Focus. 2012. Ah well. No Ford 500 to be seen, a Sport Trac that is tricked-out and is beyond my price range, Chevy’s version of the PT Cruiser is cute, a Ford Ranger truck with low miles, but mostly 2011 or 2012 models. I look up a few on my iPhone app. I tell my fiancé that I am not seeing anything that floats my boat, this was a bust and we should leave.
The finance guy comes over and tells me that an ’11 or a ’12 looks better to a bank. But it is out of my price range. I tell him, “I know from researching online that I need to go ’07 to ’09, maybe ’10. Leave me to look and come back if you have something.”
We part ways.
I go back to look at the red Ranger. 18,700 miles and an ’06. I was not thinking truck, but wow the mileage is LOW. The sticker in the window reads “consignment” and it has wheelchair plates from Louisiana. Probably a single owner, came out here to have his/her family take care… this might be it.
Meanwhile, the finance guy is back driving by with what he says is an ’07 with low miles. I ask my fiancé to deal with him, please, while I run Kelly BB on the truck. Under $11 k without anything special. Turns out the car is a 2011.
Finance guy is not listening and wasted my love’s time. STRIKE ONE.
I want to know about the truck. (We figured out later that this was not one of the vehicles brought in for the liquidation sale, so finance guy probably was not keen on selling it.) We go inside and sit down. He goes off and returns with a price of nearly $20,000. Do car salespeople not realize we have technology in our hands now and they can’t BS us? I am irritated. It shows in my voice. If he had looked at my sleeves he’d have seen the beacons. “I understand you have to make some money but no way am I buying that truck until you come close to Kelly’s.”
He keeps talking. “What would it take for you to buy it?”
STRIKE TWO. You moron! “I just told you.”
He turns the finance paper over and begins to write, “I will by this—”
STRIKE THREE: By?!? You have been selling cars 9 years and you can’t spell buy?!
“I don’t need you to flip a piece of paper over and write I will buy this truck at such and such a price. We are done here.” He keeps talking. “We are done here.”
My fiancée and I walk out. The manager chases us down. Gets an earful. Convinces us to test drive the truck to lunch. We come back and it takes our new finance guy three and a half hours to “almost” do the deal. (When we walked in we were one of two customer, when we left we were one of four.) I say almost because at 4:10 I get an emergency call from a client and I need to be back at my computer an hour away to fix it. Twenty minutes later, there is still no paperwork in sight so the dealership lets me take the truck home and the fiancé manager came to me the next day and I finished the paperwork.
I am happy: I have truck and my daughter gets my car to drive for college.
However, as I am leaving, Mr. Moron Finance comes over and asks me how much it would cost to write his life story as a movie script.