Monday, April 4, 2011

C is for Cars, D is for Debt

This weekend MJ and I went car shopping. We test drove a few cars, poked around the used cars, and were having a pretty good experience until that terrible moment at the end of visiting a car dealership where they bring out the big guns.

Do they do this everywhere or just in Virginia? You look at some cars, you talk to a salesperson, you take a test drive, and then they're like "Oh, real quick, let me grab my sales manager to give you the hard sell until you wish you'd never thought of buying a new car."

This sales manager was a particularly interesting case. He talked loudly and excitedly without making eye contact.  He flipped a pen between his hands as he talked at us, asking how aggressive a deal he'd need to make for us to buy a car today, and asking the same questions repeatedly.

At a key moment in his spiel, he told us, "Look, I will give you twenty percent off a car today. That's unheard of. That's such a good deal, it's an investment. Tell me that's not an investment."
I tried to stop myself, but...well... he asked. I said, "Well, it's not an investment. By definition, an investment is something that appreciates in value. This car is going to depreciate. I'm not trying to be difficult, but I'm getting my Master's in Finance and - that's just not an investment."

"Okay, okay," he said. He repeated his spiel over again, and then finished with, "Tell me that's not an investment!"

You know what happened next.

I'd feel badly for this dude, who is just trying to do his job, right? And here I am, unable to resist the impulse to define key financial terms for him.  But when we were test driving the car, the dealer told us about how many young kids from the nearby base come in and buy sports cars. He didn't know how they could afford them.  And, having spent lots of time with young Marines and their financial troubles, I'd have to say they can't.

But maybe someone convinces them it's an investment!


Anonymous said...

This doesn't sound like a wonderful experience. Thank goodness I haven't had to deal much with car buying in my life, and haven't run across any salesman like this!
Ann Best, Long Journey Home

KarenG said...

Buying a new car is never an investment! So funny that you paired car with debt. LOL.

Trisha said...

I frickin' hate car salesmen. You never REALLY believe the cliche until you meet one, do you? :P

Summer Frey said...

LOL...that's a great mental image.

Sorry you guys are having difficulties getting a new car, though. Hopefully you'll find the right one soon!

Cheree said...

I haven't had that experience yet. I looked at new cars, but chose to actually save up the money first. My father's a mechanic and he says he's the one who says what car I'll buy, which saves with the "big gun" sales person because he doesn't take crap.

Hopefully you'll find a new car soon.

Ellen Brickley said...

Tee hee, brilliant! So glad you put him in his place politely and gently. Well done :D

Old Kitty said...

Glad you were on your guard with the sales spiel!! I don't think he even heard your correct definition of what an investment truly is!!

Good luck with your continuing search for an honest car deal! Take care

Cruella Collett said...

I adore people who use their professional competence to prove a point (well, perhaps except when I'm at the other end of the discussion and the person is just a nitpicker...). My sister has a degree in chemistry, and she finds it very hard to avoid retorting when sales people in hair salons and such tell her that this and that shampoo is "completely natural" and "free of chemicals". Well, no, it isn't. Water is a chemical.

N. R. Williams said...

That was funny. I loved that you told him the truth. Now we must question if the guy was brain dead since he didn't learn from your explanation. We buy used cars from Enterprise Car Sales. We do this because they don't work on commission and because as a former employee, I know they never sell the lemons. LOL
N. R. Williams, The Treasures of Carmelidrium.

Nicole said...

As Karen mentioned the car and debt pairing already, I want to say that it was a useful one that so many of us need to pay more attention to when making purchases.

I find it rather rude that he continued to claim that the car is an investment, even after you pointed out to him that it was not.

Did he not believe you?


Was it that he just wasn't listening because he was more interested in getting through his sales pitch so that you could buy, buy, buy right there at that moment?

Either way, this is a good lesson that many more people (both young and older) should understand when buying cars.

I'm not expert on finance or cars but I do know that such a purchase is not an investment.

Isn't that like common sense? Especially since they talk about this all the time on television (like, when consumers are urged to by used instead of buying new, in many circumstances, especially if they are trying to save more or lower their expenses)!

The Madlab Post

Michelle said...

This would make a great scene for a novel. (But I'm sure you saw that already?)

I really enjoyed reading your last few posts. You have a lively way of writing!

Deirdra Eden-Coppel said...

I love your site and as I browsed your blog I decided to award you the Powerful Woman Writer Award.
Go to and pick up your award.

Chris said...

The hard sell immediately makes me stop wanting whatever it is I was going to buy before. Which is good, in that it saves me money.