Monday, October 17, 2011

The Fit is go.

It turns out that buying a car from the dealership feels uncomfortably like being married to my ex-husband. Everything they say seems plausible but over time, one gets a sneaking suspicion that something fishy is going on.

Let me say up front that I probably made a mistake by going to the Gold Coast to buy a sub-compact, economy car. I should have known that they simply wouldn't have much stock to choose from. But they were the easiest to get to by bus. I also should have walked out when they told me that there wasn't a single basic-model Fit anywhere in the Midwest and I would have to buy the more expensive Sport model if I wanted one at all. How could that possibly be true? At that point, though, I had been there for three hours so although I emailed another dealership and they said that it wasn't true, I think some of my life force had already been depleted and I decided not to fight that battle. I should have also probably challenged their statements that although they had both a used Fit to sell me AND a Fit they were using as a service vehicle, only the service vehicle was available for the test drive because Clark Kent was "being serviced." I definitely should have challenged them when they preemptively warned me after I said I would take it that it was still being serviced and I might not be able to drive home in it. Preemptive excuses make me nervous (see previous marriage).

I am proud to say, though, that I did not succumb to their obvious ploy when they explicitly and repeatedly stated, "I'm working hard for you because I want your business," as if by hearing it often enough and from enough people, I would simply accept it as true. It was pretty clear that when my sales rep was "checking with her manager," they were back there letting me cool my heels. I was also told a couple of times by the manager that he wanted to make a deal for me, for my sales rep's sake so that she could hit her numbers, playing on my heartstrings. How could I deny her making her quota by going anywhere else?

I did get a screaming deal and I was comfortable that was true, especially because I could use their wireless to check Kelley Blue Book. However, their claim that putting the car through the paces to qualify it as "certified" would pretty much cost the same as the warranty I would purchase is probably bogus, especially since when I looked at the warranty, it doesn't cover all the little parts that break like hoses and stuff. I was also totally unimpressed that they claimed the car had 28,000 miles while we were negotiating but it wasn't until I was filling out the final paperwork that I learned it actually had 34,000 miles. That's a pretty significant number to simply spread your hands and claim that the used car manager isn't really good with technology. I took him up on his compensatory offer of calling him if I was at all surprised by the car when I wasn't told until I was buckling my daughter into the back seat that the car only had one key but any copies needed to be made by a dealership service department and they couldn't do it that day because they didn't have the necessary blank in stock. They did give me a free copy two weeks later when they finally responded to the messages I left asking for one. Really. A car from the dealer only comes with one key? Who would even think to ask about that?

So, I came out ahead financially but I had to negotiate hard for that and walked away feeling pretty slimy about all the ways that they tried to manipulate me. I'm sure there were more that I didn't catch. I like assuming good faith exists with folks I interact with and that may be naive but it pays off a majority of the time, which makes my life so much more peaceful. Since Fletcher Jones Honda does not start the conversation with that same assumption, I wouldn't go there again. Of course, the car I was replacing was a '99 Nissan so it might be awhile before I need to put these lessons learned to use.

1 comment:

sara said...

ugh. so sorry you went through all that! it's so frustrating when an experience confirms prejudices. our excellent fit buying experience was probably because all of the other west suburban car dealerships seemed extra slimy in comparison to the super nice folks at good ol' valley honda.

so nice that it was very hard to walk away from the deal they tried to make with us last month on another new car when we genuinely just went in to have a look-see.