Monday, March 23, 2009

Question of the Day

After my relatively painless adventure buying my “new” car this weekend — I went in well-armed and fully prepared to walk if they tried any of the old techniques that car dealers are reputed to try — I’m curious…

What was your worst car-buying experience?

See mine below the fold.

In 1998 my partner, Allen, found the car he wanted in a local Ford dealer’s newspaper ad in Albuquerque that said they had “new Mustangs for $14,995.” When we got to the dealership, we said we wanted one of those. Nothing fancy, just your basic Mustang coupe with a manual transmission and standard equipment. They said Sure, then led us to a row of Shelbys and GT convertibles that started at $21,000. Very nice, but where’s the one for $14,995? We practically had to drag the salesperson over to the car. It was what we wanted, and it was affordable on our budget. We then proceeded through the ritual fire dance of back-and-forth with the manager, the finance manager, the “suggested” add-ons like the service contract, and on and on, each time each person was relentlessly cheerful to the point it was like the Attack of the Osmonds, and after every meeting we were left alone in the office while someone said they would “be right back.” There was no food; the vending machines were hidden somewhere, and at one point I almost grabbed the salesperson’s phone to order a pizza. Finally, six hours later, we had the car. We stopped at KFC on the way home.

Of course, a week later we got the inevitable customer survey from Ford. We wrote it in red ink and used words I hadn’t used since I’d read Beowulf to describe our frustration.

FYI, my experience yesterday wasn’t like that. It didn’t hurt that I was the only customer in the place most of the time, but it still took four hours, which included waiting while the car was detailed. And they had free pizza.