In December of this year it will be my 10 year anniversary that I’m with my company. I can’t believe how fast 10 years has passed. It’s been a great decade working with all the people who have come and gone over the years. It was a company I had always wanted to work with because of their great reputation, honesty and integrity, and my dream came true.
In December of this year it will also be my 10 year anniversary that I have been making car payments for my 2003 GMC Envoy. WHAT???? Yes…that’s right…I believe I am now going to be inducted into the Guinness Book of World Records for the longest pay off on a car. Or maybe I am going to make a world record for the stupidest loan documents ever signed by one of the stupidest customers who ever bought a car. Those sales people must have been laughing their asses off when I walked out of that showroom. Maybe that’s why I had 5 salesmen helping me by the time I left. One by one they kept coming over…I’m sure because they couldn’t believe someone would actually pay the price I paid, and wanted to share it with each salesman. They wanted to witness the dumbest deal ever made by a car buyer.
I believe as I drove off the lot, my car depreciated over 50% because I’m quite confident I paid double what I really needed to pay. I probably paid the equivalent 10 years ago for a mid range SUV that someone today would pay for a small Learjet. Yup…35 years I’ve been in the negotiating business and a fine job I’ve been doing.
Why is it I can negotiate the rate down to where I need it to be for my job (albeit fair), but when it comes to negotiating for my own personal needs…rarely do I hold out. In fact…I don’t even wait to hear the starting price…I just offer up a rate and go from there. And I’m pretty sure the sellers absolutely adore me because I start way higher than they even were expecting to get. Yup…35 years as a negotiator. I would fire me if I wasn’t me.
My daughter’s lease was up on her car a couple of weeks ago. Over the last few months she’s been talking about what car she wanted to get, but the problem was she was way over her miles; there was a ding in the bumper; and the interior had some blemishes. I told her as long as you turn it in and lease another…it shouldn’t matter. They can roll the excess cost into the new lease. We weren’t sure if we could turn in her Mazda to a Honda dealer, since she wanted a new Honda, or if we had to turn it into Mazda. But we decided to go to Mazda first to see if there was a car she may want there, assuming we would get a better deal. Can I please tell you who my most hated negotiations are with? I was angry at the salesman for trying to rip me off before I even got on the lot. I had already conjured up in my head what he was going to do and say, while I was on the ride over there. By the time we drove up and the vultures were upon us, froth was coming out of my mouth. I was seething, ready to pounce......and up strolls the nicest car salesman I would ever have the pleasure of dealing with. At least that’s how he appeared. Not too pushy, not too scuzzy, almost normal. And almost normal for a car salesman, in my book, is like dealing with Mother Teresa.
I had warned my daughter not to act excited if she saw a car she really wanted. If they think they have you hooked, they’ll never negotiate. I also told her not to question anything I say, even if she knew it to be untrue. It was all part of the negotiation. Just let me do most of the talking and it should work out great. I know what I’m doing. I had 10 years to rectify my mistake. You can tell him what you’re looking for but nothing about price. Leave that up to me. And if we have to walk away, we will. They’re desperate. We would get a call later from them offering a better price.
"Hello ladies…how can I help you?" After I got done being creeped out, I contained my hiss, pulled in my claws and went through the whole spiel about the terms of the lease and if we had to, we would simply convert it into a loan so there won’t be any penalties, unless we could get a good deal on a new car and blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. Great way to start off our venture into sleaze-dom because he then knew he wasn’t dealing with a couple of ditzy ‘broads’ who didn’t know anything.
‘What size engine are you looking for?’ Huh? ‘Do you want a 4 cylinder or 6 cylinder?’ Huh? ‘Do you need 4-wheel drive?’ Huh? ‘Do you want automatic or manual?’ Automatic please (whew…knew that answer.) ‘What size wheels do you want?’ Huh? [Aren’t they pretty much all the same?] ‘What color would you like?’ NOW we’re talkin’. White, preferably.
After approximately an hour or so spent with the Mazda guy, we asked him, sheepishly, if we were able to go to Honda to turn in our car. He amazingly was honest and told us we could go anywhere we wanted to and turn it in. He didn’t act upset after spending the last 60+ minutes showing us the new models, going for a test drive, then losing the business. I was quite impressed. I have to admit…our local Mazda dealers have been nothing but gracious and very uncarsalesmanlike. Good for them! Unfortunately for them, they still didn’t get our business.
Thank God it was too late to head over to Honda. Even though it wasn’t a totally unpleasant experience at Mazda, it was still draining. Any time you have to deal with salespeople, it’s ad nauseam. But I had the next evening to look forward to with our Honda dealer. If they’re anything like the latest commercials…I probably will puke. They need a new ad agency.
The anticipation of doing that all over again pretty much ruined my next day. But hey…what are moms for? And since I AM a negotiator by trade…who better than good ol’ mom to work the deal? After a day of hard negotiating with my TV ad salespeople, why wouldn’t I look forward to a whole evening of it with the car sleaze-people, too?
"Hello ladies…what can I sell you today that you can’t afford?" Once again…the whole explanation of the lease, and turning it into a loan, etc. But this time we knew what we wanted. It was the car she had wanted so badly for the last couple of years, and there it was...exactly the one she was looking for; right model, right color, right everything. Now it was a matter of whether they could meet the monthly payment my daughter could afford. I was ready to haggle. I was ready to spar. I couldn't have been more prepared to break this guy down and get everything we wanted and then some. I gave my daughter the look of ‘remember what I told you. Don't say a word.’
"What kind of payment are you looking for?" And without hesitation, I opened my big mouth and said "We’ll take it!" And that was the last time I will EVER be allowed to go with anyone to buy a car again.