Wherein buying American is not an option
I will freely admit it – I’m an impulsive buyer. I get an idea into my head and it just cycles through the gears and synapses of my grey matter until I am finally forced to act upon said impulse. I’ve learned to temper and control these impulses recently but sometimes I can’t talk myself out of a purchase. My first car back in 99 was a Pathfinder. Oh how I LOVED that car. The memories I have of cruising around with my friends and the shenanigans we pulled will be something I treasure until the day I die (or I lose my memory, whichever happens first).
After about 5 years and 75,000 miles on the Pathfinder, it started to break down. First it was minor things but then suddenly I was in the shop on a monthly basis paying $500 each time. My transmission fell apart and I ended up shelling out close to $2200 if I remember correctly. The next month was $500 struts and shocks. My mechanic then commented that he’s never seen what happened to my shocks happen before. He also then informed me that it seems that it’s not just my Pathfinder breaking down. Everyone who has the same model/year of my car was experiencing the same problems. I just seemed to be the first and he could count on at least 5 more people bringing their car in. At that point I realized I could buy a new car and pay less a month than I was for the repairs. I got an ad in the mail for the Scions. I checked it out and the car was uncomfortably, ridiculously small. I ended up wedging my knee in between the steering and pedal. I seriously couldn’t move it at that point and I’m not even that tall. I’m average height. I ended up checking out the other cars and because they gave me a great deal, I ended up going with the Toyota Camry.
I will state for the record that I totally hated the car. While it was reliable, it had nothing desirable. It had no cool features, it had the same body style since 1992 (which my mom had) with a minor tweak here and there and a poorly designed interior. There was so much empty space and poor designing that it aggravated me every time I got into the car. Going from the Pathfinder to the Camry was a serious step down. I wanted the luxury edition of the Camry but I wanted the 4 cylinder as I was looking to save money gas. The gas prices at this time were hitting $4 a gallon and the hybrids weren’t so great for an option at the time. The dealer at that time told me that I can’t get the luxury package on the 4 cylinder as it was only available on the V-6 so I settled and purchased the 4 cylinder. I drove the car for a little over 5 years. It was reliable, but it didn’t excite me or particularly enthrall me in any way shape or form.
Recently I got it in my head that I should get a new car. It was one of those thoughts I cast aside as it was just not feasible with the apartment situation and the job and the commute I was doing. The thought would come back up periodically. I just wanted to drive something a little more exciting. I helped my friend move and drove his Infiniti to his place while he drove the truck. It was a totally different experience than my Camry or Pathfinder. The strangest part of the experience were the two or three cute women who waved at me and smiled as I drove past in his car – something that had never happened to me before in any car I’ve been in.
Fast forward a about a year and I moved back home. I did the commute to work again and it was horrible. The drives were over an hour and a half and with traffic up to 2. Then came the new job unexpectedly. It let me work from home and I went into the office only occasionally. Then out of the blue, the idea cycled back into my head. I ran it by mother because it was a large purchase and I wasn’t sure if I should do it. She surprised me with “Do it. You should be driving a better car than a Camry.” which totally surprised me. So I did research and looked at different brands. There was no major need for a new car since my current one ran fine so I wasn’t pressured to actually buy something right away.
I narrowed it down to these cars (in the order I wanted them originally):
- BMW 328xi
- Ford Taurus 2010 Select
- Ford Fusion Hybrid
- Chevy Camaro Transformers Edition
- Buick Lacrosse
- Hyundai Genesis
- Nissan Maxima
I started off with the Ford primarily for 2 reasons – the first being that with the terrible economy, it made more sense to me to support America. Secondly, they have two cars that I am interested in – the Ford Fusion Hybrid and the Ford 2010 Taurus. The cars had appeals for me in totally different ways. The Hybrid was great because it ran up to 47 mph on full electric (What limitation did they run into that they couldn’t bring it up to 55 I wonder?). The test drive was impressive. I hit the button and my friend and I looked at each other and I shrugged because nothing happened. I restarted the engine and the salesman was like “The car’s on Bro. It’s hybrid, it doesn’t make any noise until the gas kicks in.”
Needless to say, both my friend and I were seriously impressed. We test drove it and drove it and it handled fairly well, but it was nothing extravagant or special though. It was a practical ride with some luxury. For a technology buff such as myself, it was a fun toy. Then I test drove the Taurus and to sum it up, Ford finally got a car right. The Taurus was impressive in all aspects – design, handling, speed, power, space, features, and safety. It felt a little underpowered compared to it’s weight when I test drove it as the acceleration was a little slow. It turned out that it was a safety feature that parents can use for their kids to limit how fast they go through a governor. I decided I wanted the car and asked for pricing.
Things started off lousy when they told me the Taurus had 0% financing but the Fusion doesn’t. They wanted to steer me towards the more expensive car. I totally get it – however, I dislike being jerked around, especially when it comes to business. I told the sales manager “Listen, I don’t need the car. I have a perfectly fine car sitting outside. I want a new one. If you’re not going to give me a good deal, I have no problem walking. I just dislike wasting time.”
The sales manager replied “Sorry, that’s the deal we have going on now.” to which I replied “OK, thanks for your time. If I’m interested, I’ll come back.” to which they replied “Wait, let’s see what we can do.” They talked for a while amongst themselves and came back and gave me a price which was higher than MSRP. I said “OK, when you get your act together and are serious about doing business, call me.” and got up and walked out.
I got home and called two other Ford dealerships and requested quotes both via email and phone calls. One guy returned my call and told me he’s heading home but would get the quote out the next day. I told him if he gets me a good price, I’d be in the first thing in the morning to sign the deal. He said he’d get a quote out to me. Of course, I heard nothing back from them. I told my parents about my decision to buy a Ford and the reaction was a typical Indian parent’s response. Summed up – “NO FORD! NO AMERICAN CARS! THEY’LL KILL YOU!”
I took my mother with me to check out the car as my dad was so against me getting it that he didn’t even want to see it. I got to the same dealership and the same salesman saw me. “Ready to sign bro?!” I said “I want to show my mother the car first. I need to convince her it’s a good car.” I’ll admit, the next part shouldn’t have shocked me, but it did. “BRO! You already test drove the car! You don’t need to drive it again. I got five clients coming in today, I don’t have time for this.” I’m looking to buy the highest end car you have and you don’t have time for me? Even though I called ahead and told you I was coming in?
I stood straight up and said “Alright, I understand. I’ll just go somewhere where they have time for me. Thanks.” and turned to walk. “WAIT, WAIT! I’ll get the keys.”
He had already made a poor impression on my mother and she wasn’t thrilled with spending more time there but she waited it out. We got in the car and took a look through it. She was impressed by the quality, comfort, and space of the car. She still wasn’t thrilled with buying American but if I wanted to spend the money on it, it was mine to spend. Then we went to negotiate and it turned into a huge runaround ending with the guy arguing with me that the car on the lot was the model I wanted and me arguing it wasn’t. I wanted the 303 package and the car was the 302. “BRO! IT’S THE CAR YOU WANT!” “It’s the 302 package. It’s different from the 303 and is missing features I want. It’s not the same car. Here, look at the printout from YOUR website and compare. It’s missing seven features.” “BRO! IT"S THE SAME CAR!!”
I finally said “Are you seriously going to sit here and argue with me after I’ve proved it’s not the same car??” to which he responded by calling his manager over and said “Tell this guy that this is the car he wants. He won’t believe me.” The manager seemed puzzled by the request and said “Well what are you looking for?” to which I replied “I want the 303 package.” The manager glanced at the paper and said “The car we have is the 302, it’s different from the 303.” The salesman piped up “No, it’s the same car!” The manager looked at him and said “No, the 303 is a different package. It’s premium and costs more.” to which the salesman went quiet and turned bright red. “We don’t have the 303 in stock though. Is that what you’re looking to sign?”
I replied “Yes – if you can give me a good deal on it.” to which he replied “OK, let me see what I can find.” and walked away. The salesman walked with him and my mother quietly asked “Are you sure you want to do this? They don’t seem to know what they’re doing.” I was certain until this crap all happened. I had already been there 1-1/2 hours and haven’t even received a quote. I said “15 more minutes and we walk.” she didn’t say anything else. Then the salesman came back, sat down, and said “My manager’s looking into what we can get. You excited about this car? It’s a real beauty!” With a sinking feeling, I said “We’ll see. It all depends on the deal you give me.”
The manager came back and said “I got one located. Here’s the deal I can give you.” and handed me the paper. I looked at him and said “Seriously? This is the best you can do?” I can’t remember the exact cost now but it was something like $20 under MSRP. I said “This isn’t even a realistic starting point for discussion. let me know when you get a real deal to talk. I’m going to check out other cars now. I’ve wasted enough time here.” and got up to leave.
The salesman said “Bro, time is money. I’ve spent a lot of time with you and it’s only fair you give me a chance to get your business.” to which I replied “I already gave you two. By the way, good luck with the other five other clients you had coming in since none of them are here and you close in one hour.” and left.