Friday, August 01, 2008
As if earning a master's degree and finding a job that puts me in a tax bracket that may require me to understand terms like "itemized deduction," weren't enough, I now have a VERY adult responsibility. An actual new car, with a real loan. With quite a bit of help from my grandfather (who LOVES to help people shop for cars online), who found a dealership and told me what kind of car he thought would work for me, I bought myself a brand-new Chevy Aveo (the hatchback model) And when I say new, I mean new. A comparison: When I parked at the dealership, my old car had 247,006 miles. I left in a new car that had 36 miles. The entire process was interesting, but way too time consuming.
The first car I looked at cost about $3,000 more than I wanted to pay (actually, I test-drove two, but the second one I drove was way more expensive, so I only asked seriously about one) -- in the most cliched move EVER, the salesman made a big show of writing down the price and terms on a piece of paper, then sliding it across the table to me. That's when I said "Well ... I like the look of this model better, but I'd be much happier with the number on the other model. Why don't I test drive that?" He tried to talk me out of it, but I took the other one out anyway. And I'm glad I did, because I loved it. The first car I drove, I could have lived with, but I really loved the second one.
The negotiations were also helped by my grandfather, who called me in the morning before I went to the dealership and told me about some great deal he found down in the Bay Area and he would pay cash for that car and have me pay him back, but it would have to be delivered. This was not a scenario either of us really wanted, but he suggested using it as leverage. So I did. That little game, plus my time on debate team probably helped quite a bit. I was laughing inside at how cliched the entire process was. "Well, I really want your business, and I want to take care of you, so if I can get that number down, can I get you to drive away in this car?"
When I decided on the specific car, again with the total "salesman" move, "You're going to love me," he pushes a piece of paper across the table with the price on it. I agreed to the total price and thus began THREE HOURS of waiting around to talk to the finance guy, then sitting there while he did something that eventually got me a much better APR without me having to ask for it. Quite a bit of the finance guy trying to talk me into these extra deals they have and doing a lot of "let me ask my boss if I can do this for you ..." that just seemed a little too staged in a "I'll pretend that I'm only doing this to be nice to YOU, but really, it's what I do for everyone so they'll think better of the dealership" sort of way. All of the men who helped me were very nice, though, and I would recommend the dealership. Seriously, if I do and you buy a car they'll give me $200. If you live near Seattle, ask me about it.
All things considered, though, I think I handled things very well. It was great to have my grandfather's help because he'd personally talked to the salesman before I came down and told him what I wanted/needed, and he made me promise not to buy anything without asking him if he thought the price was a good deal (he told me I did "very well" when I told him the final terms). It was awesome to have that to throw into the conversation, but I do think that I negotiated better than I thought I would. I'm quite proud of myself.
Anyway, I'm now a very happy owner of a car I like very much. I gave up on a couple of extras (AC and a stereo with an iPod hookup) to get the price I wanted, but I love the car. I must admit, though, that it's kind of sad to part with the old one. They couldn't take it as a trade-in (I didn't expect one) because it's in my parents' name and we lost the title. So they're holding on to it for me until I can find the title and donate it. Yes, it was very old and getting to be rather unreliable and scary to drive through the mountains, but I've been riding in/driving that car forever. It's an '89 that my parents got when it was about two years old. There have been many fun road trips with my dad in that car. I learned to drive in that car. All it's little quirks and the need to explain to all my friends and mechanics how to use the car really gave it some personality. I laughed at it, but really, it was a pretty good car. Driving that car was like having a friend who you disagree with about everything but keep around because fighting is so fun. I felt a little guilty driving away from it, leaving it sitting there looking so sad and alone.