I needed a car. That’s the start of this story, I needed a car. We are on THE LAST payment for Syd’s Mini. In two weeks, if sitcoms have taught me anything, that bitch will spontaneously explode in flames the second the last check is cashed. This frees up a little bit of money for me to get a car. A car! A CAR! Later, when I have more time and energy, we shall discuss the frustration that is living in Michigan sans auto.
Short Version: If you live in Michigan and you have no car, you aren’t even a second class citizen. You barely exist. There are few options for the carless in MI.
But the Mini is going to be paid off (and then hit by a meteor) and we can use the amount of money for Syd’s car payment to get me a car and some insurance. Not a huge sum of money, but enough to keep up the payments. So we thought we’d look around a bit.
Short Version: Honda didn’t want to sell a car.
We walked in, and no one even looked at us for ten seconds. It was twelve before anyone actually spoke to us. When you are in sales, you learn that the first seven seconds are crucial. People like to be acknowledged. If you ignore them for more than seven seconds, you’ve failed as a salesman and you will not get a commission. I’m guessing the 5 guys on that floor are salary, because they eventually admitted we were there after half a minute and dained to speak to us.
We told the guy who eventually sauntered over our requirements, and as soon as it was clear we wouldn’t be getting a CRV with all the toys and extras, the guy shut down. I guess we’re supposed to be glad he didn’t spit on us, or slap us or something. His attitude clearly stated that we were supposed to kiss his feet for not beating us to death with a chair leg. I very much got the feeling of “Oh, how common! I can’t believe we even LET people drive on the roads if their cars cost less than fifty thousand.”
There was a model that might be in our price range. So we asked him to get a car for us to test drive. We wait … Time Passes
A full ten minutes goes by and several times I contemplate just leaving. They clearly didn’t want to sell a car today. However, a car comes around and we get in and I can’t move the damn gear shift. You don’t squeeze the button on a Honda, you have to come from underneath and raise the button in a way I was utterly unfamiliar with. You would have thought it was grab and squeeze, I’m sure you would, but I couldn’t figure it out. I turned off the car, wondering if there was something wrong and re-started it.
Or at least I tried.
The car would not start. I went inside, about to just toss the key back to the guy and tell him that we were done, but I found another salesman and asked him if he could help. He looked sort of superior and smug over the fact that I couldn’t get the car to start, and then he couldn’t get the car to start. He looked up at me and I gave him by best and most loving smile. You know the one, the one where I look over my glasses and give the impression that I don’t need a knife, that I can tear your throat out with my teeth. He failed to start the car, got a look at my friendly smile, and then looked sheepish before he announced the battery was dead.
Allow me to remind you, this was the demonstration model. This was the test drive! This is the place that can make or break a sale. Syd has said that in retrospect we should have listened to our instincts and run when they went to get the jump-machine. They jumped the battery, and we drove down the road a mile. I wasn’t thrilled with the car, I didn’t like it much, but I figured I was pissed and I wasn’t being fair to the car. The attitude of the salesmen had gotten to me, and I wasn’t giving this thing a chance and I should see how it drove and what the handling was like and just try to give it an opportunity to wow me.
Then it stalled. It stalled and, of course, it wouldn’t start again.
A mile from the dealership, while snow was falling, and there are no sidewalks because this is Michigan… the car stalled and had to be left in the street. Half a mile up the road was the Nissan Dealer. I sent Syd there and walked the rest of the way to the Honda guys, told them where their car was, and left in the Mini. I did not swear, I did not bitch. I did not rain hellfire or explode with rage. I explained where the car was, gave them the key, and calmly left. I should mention, at no point did anyone attempt to apologize for this experience, or even acknowledge that this was kind of a sucky situation to find myself in.
It was just as well, Honda did not want to sell a car today anyway. I can tell, because they did everything wrong. You could write this up as a text book example. The only explanation is that they didn’t want to sell a car.
Nissan however, DID!
The kid at Nissan appreciated the fact that we told him up front exactly what our budget was. He worked hard to find a car that would fit the budget, and we picked out rather a nice one. As a joke, while on the test drive (which the salesman came with us) I showed him the exact spot where we died in the Honda and told him it was make or break time for his company while I stopped for a moment and then drove over the spot and continued. He seemed pleased that the car did what it was supposed to do and that the spot was not actually cursed or anything. Actually, I think we should always shop in the winter, driving around the various parking lots of the Troy Motor Mall gave me several different versions of ice and snow test how the car would react.
Then he went the extra fourteen yards and worked the system to find some extra deals for us (Seems Syd’s company is on a list that gives her a discount) and the upshot of this story is I’m going to lease a Nissan Sentra for the next three years. Yes, the Versa was a shade cheaper, but I think I’ll be happier that I was talked into the Sentra in the long run. I’ve driven Sentras before, when they were more compact, but I have had good luck with Nissan as a company. So on Monday, we sign the papers, hand over The White Elephant and I get a bitchin’ new ride.
Because Nissan wanted to sell a car today.