Car Buying

I’m trying to sell a car. If I sell it, it will be the fifth car I’ve sold which is a pretty good sales record for someone who knows nothing about cars. Sales in general are shady business and car sales are the shadiest. I don’t mean any disrespect to car salespeople, including my brother if he’s reading this, but car sales just make most people uncomfortable.

Even when you’ve done your research, there’s always that nagging sense that you were had, that you paid too much, that should have played harder ball. Imagine if every purchase were as difficult. Credit card debt would be cut in half.

Let’s say you see a nice cashmere sweater at the store. The price tag reads $150.00.
“Just this?” the saleslady asks.
“Yes,” you say.
“What a beautiful sweater,” she says.
“Yes.”
“That will be $400.00.”
“What?” you say, louder than you expect. “The price tag says $150.00.”
“That doesn’t include Seller Preparation and Additional Dealer Mark-Up,” she says.
“That’s ridiculous,” you say and demand to see the manager.

The manager comes out, all smiles and handshakes, and agrees to take off the Seller Preparation. “But I can’t do anything about the Additional Dealer Mark-Up,” he says. “It’s a very popular sweater.”

You thank him, feeling semi-victorious as he disappears back into his office, and the saleslady continues. “Would you like shrink-proofing on this sweater?” she says. “I recommend it to preserve your investment.”
“No thanks”
“What about fabric sealant? Protect your investment from accidents and stains.”
“No.”
“Sweater theft is one of the fastest growing crimes in this city. Cashmere sweaters are at the top of the list. If your sweater is stolen, our tracking system can help you and the police locate your sweater within hours. Without it, your sweater could be across the border before you know it’s missing.”
“No.”
“How would you like to pay for this?” she asks.
“Credit,” you say, pulling out your card.
“Would you like insurance with that? Insurance will pay off the credit card company for the cost of your sweater if you die,” she says.
“No,” you say, reminding yourself to drive carefully.
“Let’s look at your warranty options.”
“I just want to buy the sweater.”

The saleslady persists. “An extended warranty will cover costs if any part of the sweater breaks down under normal usage.”
“Like if my new niece spits up on it?”
“That’s not covered,” she says.
“Like if I spill a glass of wine on it,” you say.
“That’s not covered either.”
“What is covered?”
“All costs if any part of the sweater breaks down under normal usage,” she says.
“Give me an example.”
“If the sweater falls apart when you’re wearing it, for example.”
“Does that happen a lot?” you ask.
“With an extended warranty, all your costs would be covered.”
“Can’t I just return it?” 
“How about an alarm?” she says.

This is probably when you’d walk out of the sweater store but buying a car is different. You stay. Why? Because you’ve already invested three hours into the purchasing process. You’re broken down. Your defenses are weakened. All you want to do is end the process. This is how torture works too.

I suppose my success in selling four cars (soon five, I hope) comes from a more straightforward approach. No hard sell, no add-ons, no pressure. I have a bottom price in mind and I’m looking for the seller who agrees.

It’s like a joke my boyfriend tells. He doesn’t remember if he heard on television or saw it on the internet, so I don’t know whose it is, but it goes something like this:
A guy tells his friend, “I just sold a million dollar dog.”
His friend says, “How do you know it was worth a million dollars?”
The guys says, “Because I traded it for two $500,000.00 cats.”

That’s the true essence of a good sale. You get what you want on both ends.