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October 6th, 2005

Our Car Buying Escapades

As Pingers can surmise, we’ve been looking at cars recently. Our 2001 PT Cruiser was doing fine, but we were worried about the mediocre gas mileage and wanted something that felt a little more solid – something like a Toyota Matrix or its twin, the Pontiac Vibe.

We had seen a Pontiac Vibe we were interested in that was out at a dealer called Jacobs Twin – which is a little ways away. The price was fantastic, and the car had everything we demanded: power everything, cruise, automatic, a/c, et al. No moonroof but we could live with that. Thing is, there was a closer dealership, Grossinger, which had the same car with higher mileage for $3k more. Really.

After talking about it the plan was this: we?d go to Grossinger, show them the Jacobs price and car, and ask if they could beat it. If they could, we?d buy there (to avoid driving all the way out to Jacobs). If not, bye. Of course things didn?t go exactly as planned?.

We were taken in by a fellow named Mark. My wife and I brought the printout from cars.com on the specific model we wanted. Specific. Mark sent a colleague to go get it. In the meantime he started talking a little about the 06 Vibe (new), which we weren?t interested in because it was out of our budget. We said no. He said okay and left.

We were left alone for about 30 minutes before I asked the guy at the tower (who turned out to be the manager) to page him, because it felt like a damn long time. We already felt abandoned. Some other sales guy walking by found Mark outside, so we went out there.

We really just wanted to get the price out there and see if they could beat it, and Mark was having a hard time ?finding? this car – at one of the (allegedly) largest used car dealers in Illinois. Then his colleague came back and pronounced the car found! But, it had been sold. ?Yeah, that woman came in – she was interested in it,? he said to Mark, ?so she came in and we replaced the bumper. We got the deposit today.? We were saying, ?Seeya? when Mark started to talk price. So we showed him the cars.com printout from Jacobs, and pointed to the price.

Mark said a word that rung out through the night air, and is steeped in our brains: ?Impossible.? He said there was no way they could be selling that car for that price, so he surmised it was a bait-and-switch. ?You know,? he said, ?Some dealers – they do that.? He knew all too well, as it turned out. But he kept talking. He first threw out there that Jacobs Twin must do business in an unscrupulous manner, but Grossinger doesn?t. After all, they?re so big! We talked about our highest ceiling, our financing and then he asked the magic question: ?Do you have a trade-in?? We did, so we said yes. Both he and his colleague lit up like Christmas trees. ?Oh! Well, then it?s all okay!?

He asked us what the trade was, and we told him, and he said, ?Oh yeah, there?s no way you?re upside down in that. Tell you what. We have a number of 05 and 06 Vibes. With the 06 we can get you into it at your price. I just want to work with you on this.? We agreed in part because Jacobs was so damn far, so we went inside. He got our insurance and driver?s licenses and said he?d return with a car for us to drive. Then, we waited.

Ten minutes.

Twenty.

Twenty-two.

Or so.

Finally, we?d had enough. Mark came back in – without a car! We both were ready to lay down the law, but it was my wife’s turn to share her wrath – so she did. She told him it had been over an hour, and we had seen no car, had no pricing, had no idea what they had, and this was a giant waste of our time. Mark just kind of nodded and then said, ?I understand. Well, listen. I have an 06 Vibe in service that has everything you want except for power windows. We can put them in here though.? That?s what set me off – I don?t want your stinking aftermarket power windows! ?And we can do it for [your ceiling price].?

Me: ?So with tax, title, and license, you can do it for [ceiling]??
Mark: ?Well no, tax, title, license – those are separate.?
Me [to my wife]: ?OK, that?s it.?
My Wife: ?Then we?re going to leave. Thank you.?

But then Mark suggested we look out on the lot at the ?many? Vibes he had. On the lot. Walking. No! We were tired and pissed. Mark was losing his sale. My wife asked, ?Do you have any Vibes?? ?I don?t know.? ?You don?t know? Don?t you have this on a database?? ?I don?t know.? Right, bub. This was the end of it. He also tried to get us into another car, like a G6 (yucko) or a Ford Focus (please).

This wasn?t the end, for he did the whole ?Well I need to tell my manager you?re leaving, blah blah blah? and the Mrs. said, ?We?ll meet you at the front door.? We got over there and waited a minute or two, and Mark came back with another offer – as I was cautiously expecting, given these dealerships we?d visited yesterday.

?I spoke with my manager and he told me that we have the Vibe you wanted.?
Us: ?What??
Mark: ?He told me to sell the car.?
My Wife: ?How can you do that??
Mark: ?Well, the car is here – it can be sold.?
both of us: ?But? you took a deposit on that car. Doesn?t that hold the car??
Mark [befuddled]: ?No. The car is here and she isn?t, so?.?

At this point we were both thinking that there was no way we would WANT to do business with these people! I mean, here they were allegedly selling a car someone ELSE had put a friggin? DEPOSIT on! After that, my wife and I were ready to lay it on the manager. She took her turn this time, and we ended up leaving.

The good news? We went to Jacobs. We bought the car. We drove it home. It wasn’t “impossible”. On the ride home we drove by Grossinger. We both stuck our hands out our respective windows and flipped them off. ?Impossible,? I said. ?Suckers!?

Posted in Cars

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