Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Beaches 1, Honda 0


Well, we bought a Honda Accord, so I can't really say that Honda didn't get anything out of the deal, but a 6-hour ordeal at the dealership today was pretty interesting.

Now, Jon and I use USAA bank, which is an all-military, uber-convenient, love-them-more-than-members-of-my-family bank. We do everything through them: bank, insurance, mortgage, investment. I hope they never go under, cause then....we'll be effed. Anyway, after months of discussion, we decide this is the week to get a new (to us) car for me to use. Something big enough to cart a kid or two around in. Jon set off on a research/test drive mission and came back to report that he thinks we should get this Honda. I was so relieved to not go shopping. I hate car shopping, mainly because I hate salesmen.

So, this morning, I called USAA and wrapped up some last minute finance and insurance details and Jon took the afternoon off so we could wrap it all up. We got to the dealership around noon, I drove the car to a mechanic, and he checked it out for an hour or so, giving it the all clear. We drove it back to the dealership, haggled for about 30 seconds, and decided on a price. We're happy, they're happy cause they are selling a car, and then....their internet goes down.

Now, I'm not sure how the internet going down affected us sitting in the financial manager's office, but we ended up there pretty quick, and he asked us what rate we were getting for our loan. Biting back the "none of your business, dude" that was on the tip of my tongue, we told him, and he assured us that he could "beat that all day long." (Really? Necessary to use that phrase?) So, we asked what he could give us. He quoted a much lower price, but alas, their internet was down, so he couldn't verify that. We tossed some numbers back and forth, and while financing with them would be less expensive in the long run, the convenience and ease of continuing to be USAA customers was worth some extra cost to us, and we told him so.

At least, I think that's what we told him. We might have told him that we drowned some baby kittens in his kitchen sink, because that's the face reaction we got from him. Complete depression. He walked out of the office to get some paperwork, and I expressed my concern to Jon that he might be fashioning a noose out of decorative car-dealership balloons. He comes back. The internet is still down, so there's really not a lot we can do to buy the car outright today. We're cool with that, because we're not in a rush. He's cool with that, because in the next hour...or two...he can talk us into financing with him. Seriously relentless. He seemed comforted by the fact that their internet was down, and as long as it was down, we were still considering financing with them. (We weren't). I guess we gave him too much hope by telling him that if his rate went down even farther, it might be up for discussion, but we weren't hardballing him, we were just being honest. And he ignored that anyway, and for some reason decided that if he could just fill out all the financing paperwork with his rate, we would sign it. (We wouldn't.)

We told him he was welcome to run credit checks on us and tell us what their bottom line rate was, but assured him, and the other guy he called it to good-cop us, that the rate they were quoting, albeit lower, was not enough to change our minds. He heard the exact opposite. He assured us that by going with USAA, despite what USAA told us earlier, there was no way we could get the car today, that it might stretch through the weekend before we got the car. Lots of trailing off ensued. Sorry buddy, still not incentive enough.

Then, while he was restarting his computer, praying that would restart the internet, Jon stepped out to make a phone call. I thought it was for work. It wasn't, it comes into play later.

So while I'm stuck in toolbag's office, he tells me that even though the internet is down so he can't tell us their bottom line rate, he's definitely going to print out the Honda finance paperwork as though we are going with Honda for the rate we had already rejected. "Go ahead," says I. Kill a few trees senselessly, if it makes you feel better. I kinda felt bad for him, and probably gave him hope. I sure as hell wasn't going to sign anything he put in front of me. So he's clicky-clacking away, Jon returns, he prints out paperwork, and another 40 minutes or so goes by (it all kinda meshed together) when my phone rings.

So, I step outside to take a call from my best friend, Justin, relaying the story to him, and listening to his story about his new brother-in-law's wife. It's a good story. I'm on the phone for about 20 minutes or so. I come back in to see Jon looking kinda smug, car guy looking a combination of pissed/depressed, and the USAA paperwork in progress. When he turned his back to us, I mouthed "What did you do?!" to Jon, who only smirked and winked. With the internet down, he assured us the paperwork would be finished the next day, that we could pick the car up on Thursday, and a couple of handshakes and we were outta there.

So, what happened while I was gone? Apparently, Jon's phone call was to USAA to see if they would lower their rate more. They did. Jon, being a decent guy, went back in and was hoping that the internet would be down, we'd leave, and then call the guy later once we got their bottom line, let him know via phone that USAA was giving us a rate we wanted, and that we were staying with USAA. This saving paperwork and a bit of face because we weren't turning him down sitting in his office. BUT, no such luck! While I was on the phone, he kept pushing, filling out his own finance paperwork with a rate we had already rejected, so Jon pretended his phone was buzzing and stepped into the hallway, clearly visible from the guy's office. Jon then proceeded to have an imaginary phone call with USAA about the lower rate they were offering. He hung up, went back inside and told the guy "USAA called, they lowered their rate, and we are going with them." The guy started manually ripping up the paperwork he had prepared before Jon had even finished the sentence, he was so pissed.

A few lessons here: I guess we really weren't getting our point across that the rate they were offering was not going to cut it. They hinted around at a rate even lower, which might have actually been attractive to us, but when it came time to do paperwork, went back to their original rate. It was a great rate, but we had already rejected it a couple of times, so pushing and pushing wasn't going to make us change our minds. Perhaps we should have been clearer, although it would have bordered on rudeness had we been much clearer. A lesson for them: As Kenny Rogers said, you gotta know when to fold 'em. I'm sure you'll get the next guy.

Now, please make sure the car is cleaned and gassed up for us on Thursday afternoon.

1 comment:

The Mobile Ms. T said...

Ugh. I hate car salesmen. Remind me someday to tell you about the time I got chased into the parking lot and drove away with a salesman pounding on my window...where do they find these guys??