You are buying a new car. Your Facebook feed has read your mind and is notifying you of cars slightly above your budget, but still within your reach if you cancel cable and tell your kids they can’t play hockey anymore. FOMO is messing with you too, because your neighbor bought a Tesla yesterday and you decide it is time to keep up with the Jones’. Although you can’t afford an Elon Musk creation, you figure you might as well drain the college funds and upgrade your lifestyle the best you can.
It is an arduous process if you’re trying to pay as little as possible for a new car. You send out a form letter to every dealer within 50 miles of your house stating, “I will buy the [make and model of the car] this week, give me your best price.” Then you start the ground assault. You walk into the dealers who responded with the best prices to your email. You tell them, “I don’t need a test drive. I will buy a car tomorrow from the dealer with the best out-the-door-price.”
Sending an email blast is a mundane and straightforward process. When you walk into the showroom and face the slick salesman acting like a wolf wearing grandma’s cloak is when the car buying experience escalates to a higher level.
You never hear, “How can I earn your business?” at McDonald’s when ordering a McRib or at the movie theater paying for overpriced popcorn. At a car dealership every sales guy wants to “earn” your business. Why can’t they sell you a car and send you on your way? Other absurd phrases you hear include: “What is it going to take me to get you into a car today?”, “I wish I could go that low, but I’d get fired”, and “I gotta check with the tower.”
Some salesmen don’t realize you are living in the twenty-first century where information advantages are neutralized by the internet and women can hold office.
One dealer, wearing a denim shirt, tries asking for $5,000 over the sticker price . Keep in mind, you are looking for a family car and not a limited edition Italian sportscar. When the offending dealer calls you the next day, you take immense joy in telling him you are sitting in a different dealership waiting for the porter to finish up the detailing of your new car. This is your version of Julia Roberts in the shopping scene, “Big mistake. Big. Huge.”
Another salesman refers to your wife as “the little lady” and asks her about exterior color choices. He mansplains to you incentives, warranties, and his strategies for trading corn futures and gold options. You do not buy a car from him because twenty minutes into his sales pitch, your wife points out he is showing you the wrong model car.
One car jockey suggests you check out the “pre-owned and cheaper” inventory. Yes, sometimes when you get dressed in the morning you pull clothes out of your laundry basket instead of your closet, but you looking like a bum doesn’t mean you can’t afford a new vehicle.
Your trade-in car was built in 2014. Your old car feels as technologically advanced as a Ford Model T compared to a new car. Driving a car made in this decade makes you feel like Will Smith flying the alien spaceship in Independence Day.
“What type of tech package do you want?” an Apple watch-wearing car dealer asks.
Did you walk into a Circuit City looking to upgrade your Dell computer? This salesman has an Alfred E. Neuman grin. He doesn’t talk about the 10-gear transmission, dual turbochargers, and 0-60 times. Instead, you hear of 29-way seats, quad sectional heating, and iPhone interaction. Then there are all these safety devices like stay-in-your-lane, auto-braking, and cameras for every angle of your exterior. If you want to road rage and tail a guy because he is driving like a turtle in the ultrafast lane, it is your right. You don’t need a car overriding your driving abilities. You are a licensed Class D driver as declared by the State of Illinois. Look out world. Your car goes vroom.
Through grit, determination, and haggling with every dealer in the Lake Michigan area, you convince yourself you found the best deal on the new car. You discover a dealer who is struggling to get his first car sale for the month. With the month half over, any warm body with a reasonable offer on anything in the store, be it office furniture, rock salt, or best of all, a car, would get a deal. You guess you won. Did you? You don’t know.
As your fast-depreciating asset sits in your garage, you take a bath in a mixture of lye, bleach, and toilet bowl cleaner to remove the buyer’s remorse and new car dealer smell.