My daughter needed a car. I hate, detest, despise, buying cars and haggling over prices The sleazy salesmen always wear me down and talk me into buying an overpriced car regardless of whether the payments are affordable or not.
But the fact was, my daughter needed a car. I, of course, am the one with a down payment and good credit, so I had to become a part of this unsavory deal. I delayed the inevitable as long as possible with excuses, such as, “It’s too cold to look for a car today.” or “You can make it just one more week, can’t you?”
My daughter didn’t take the hint. She began to suggest places we might look. A brand new car was out of the question unless we stopped by the hospital and got a transfusion for my purse on the way. So, we “compromised”. We decided to buy a former rental car, only a year old, all the extras included, and best of all NO haggling – the price is the price!
It seemed simple enough. Find a car you can afford. Buy the car. Unfortunately, the only place we could find selling previously rented cars was on the other side of the world. After driving for an hour, passing it twice unbeknown, we finally had to call for directions. Big mistake. They knew we were coming. Gerald was waiting for us outside when we arrived.
“Are you the folks that called,” he asked, rubbing his hands together with drool practically foaming out of his mouth. We had to admit that we were. “Let’s discuss your needs,” he suggested. What he meant was, “Let’s discuss your financial abilities.”
He went into a prerecorded barrage about how they price their cars at giveaway prices, wholesale out the dogs, and keep only the best of the fleet for their sales lot. “We want to make your car buying experience as pleasant as possible,” he said, as if there was any way to sign away half your assets and have it feel pleasant.
My daughter went into the particular model and features she was looking for. I interrupted, “Something economical,” I said. Gerald got my drift.
“I have several that are just what you want,” he purred. “Let’s go out to the lot and look around. He led us straight to a sporty little gold number. My daughter’s heart jumped out of her jacket as she totally forgot about what she used to want. Dollar signs flashed in Gerald’s eyes. We looked around the lot as Gerald explained the features of other cars that were available, but my daughter’s eyeballs remained fixated on the gold car.
Finally, we made the enormously difficult decision of buying the first thing we saw. Back to the office we went to fill out the paper work and see how anemic my purse was going to be for the next five years or until my daughter finds a job, whichever comes first.
“I don’t think I came very prepared,” I said, looking at the application, which asked about home ownership, loan balances, and monthly mortgage payments. Good grief, I thought was buying a car, not a condo. “All we need is where you work and your salary,” Gerald said. “Don’t worry about the rest of that stuff.”
He whisked the paper out from under my pen and sped to the back room, where I presume the credit bureau was being contacted. He returned after a time with a smile like a cat that has been dating the canary. “You have great credit.” The pupils of his eyes flashed digital numbers as he calculated the commission in his head.
The payments were only about half of what I expected, but I didn’t flinch a freckle. My daughter was outside in the driver’s seat blowing the horn. We completed the deal without bloodshed, though it was close when he was talking me into buying the extended warranty for a mere $20 per month extra.
Finally, we drove out of the parking lot, proud owners of a sporty, pre-owned, golden chariot, complete with full gas tank, certificate for emissions check, and promise of an extra set of keys. In the rear view mirror, I saw Gerald out on the used car lot standing by a silver car and grinning at a new customer like an alligator who has cornered a wildlife poacher.