Ten Reasons Why Purchasing an Automobile is No Fun
Isn’t it? Why not?
I have seen many commercials during January, so far, that are advertisements for cars. All of my information is anecdotal, my opinion, but I believe that everything I write is true.
Multiple commercials on my local television channel have caught my attention by showing me gleaming, beautiful, new cars, and mostly trucks. These commercials offer fabulous deals, savings, and discounts. If you buy a full-sized Ford F-150 truck (or any brand — they are all advertising), this week only!, you can get up to $10,000 dollars worth of savings! Ten. thousand. dollars. That sounds magnificent. I do not have ten thousand dollars in my savings account, today. Nor in my savings + checking accounts combined. I want $10,000! Who wouldn’t?
And that brings me to my point. Every car commercial is bullshit. You know it, and I know it. How will I save 10,000 dollars if I buy a new truck, this week? It goes something like this. The truck costs 40,000 dollars. But they’re giving me 1,000 dollars off, so it’s 39. But there’s a dealer incentive for 5,000 dollars for 1st time Ford buyers, so that’s six. There’s an upgrade package the dealer has added to the cost to bring the price up to the exorbitant figure of 40k on a truck that has a listed MSRP of 28,000 dollars. To make a long, long story short, there is a version of a Ford pick-up called Lariat that costs about 50,000 dollars. It has four full-sized leather seats in a full-sided cab (the 28k model has only two seats), and a 5.0 liter turbo-charged V-8 engine fitted on a 4WD offroad suspension system. It is like a Cadillac (I’m old, so I call an expensive luxury car a Cadillac, like when I was a child in the ’60s, JFK was riding in a Cadillac when he was killed on TV). So it’s something the President would ride in.
Anyway, if you go into a Ford dealership, they can somehow show you on paper, or on a computer screen how if you buy a car from them for 30,000 dollars, you saved 10,000 dollars. It doesn’t make a lick of sense.
To me it is exactly the same as saying my car, which right now is a Jeep, costs a million dollars! But if you buy today, we will give you a discount of 970,000 dollars, and you pay only 30,000 dollars! Hooray! That is what giving 10,000 dollar discounts accomplishes for me, as the buyer. It points out the fact that the price of a truck doesn’t mean a damn thing, if you can just chuck 10k off the price and sell it to me, and still make a profit. It must have been over-priced by 10,000 dollars. I’m not going to open a car dealership and buy a car wholesale for 30,000 dollars, discount it 10 thousand and sell it to you for 20,000, losing 10,000 per unit! I would be out of business the first month.
That is why buying a car is so unpleasant, I believe it is, for everyone. The number one reason:
1. They will not tell you the price of the vehicle. Bottom line, how much does it cost? Then I’ll make the decision whether or not I can buy it. But automobile salespeople are trained on a script, like actors. Giving you simple information, for example, we paid 20,000 dollars for the vehicle, we shined it up and added extra equipment, plus we make a thousand dollars to pay the staff, so your cost is 25,862 dollars. Isn’t that simple? That is all I want. I WANT the salesperson to make a commission (even better if they just paid them a living wage and did away with commission system entirely, but that is not “sales”). I could just hand the person five hundred-dollar bills if he’d cut out an hour of this stinking drama, and get to telling me the actual out-the-door price. Handing them cash is not allowed either. I have asked that, too.
I have never gotten that, except when Saturn was a car company. They were part of General Motors, everything that isn’t a Ford or Chrysler (plus they’re all paired with European brands, too, now, I think, Daimler-Chrysler, etc).
Saturn is the only place where they told you, a loaf of bread cost a dollar. Then, if you went across the river from St. Louis, MO, to Illinois, and shopped for the same Saturn hatchback model, you would see, it was also 20,000 dollars, like the other dealer told you. The price was the price. At every dealership, from every salesperson. There were some differences: one dealership where we ended up buying a Saturn once, gave us “free” oil changes for the life of the car. All regularly scheduled maintenance such as brake service was covered for 36,000 miles, or whatever it was, but oil changes were always free, even if you went over 100,000 miles (which we did). Another dealership had a slightly less attractive version of the maintenance package — so it could be said that there was SOME difference, but not much, not like with every other modern dealership/or brand.
No other car dealership, or motorcycle dealership has ever done that for me, and that is why I find buying a vehicle such an awful experience. It is like asking a person in the grocery store, how much is this cart full of a week’s worth of groceries? And they answer, “how much do you want to spend”? You’d probably say, what the fuck are you talking about? and walk out. I would. And that’s what I want to do, every time I buy a car or motorcycle. It has never been a good experience. And that is really too bad, because I enjoy driving; I enjoy having a nice vehicle, and customizing it to make it even better. I maintain it, and I usually keep it clean, in between mudbaths, in the case of my Jeep. In between trips from Mexico to Canada or from the Pacific to the Atlantic in the case of my motorcycles — even then, I wipe them down at the end of each day before I go to bed, during the trip.
But buying them all has just been a shit experience. All I really can do is look online, get a sense of the facts, before going in for the torture session(s). During my last experience, I found out that a Jeep Wrangler had an MSRP of something like 22,375 dollars, but you couldn’t actually get one off the lot for less than 30 grand. They’re sort of a hot item, with one of the highest resale values, in America. I also knew that, from my online research. You can regularly look on Craigslist, or Autotrader.com and see a used model with 100,000 miles on it, and they’re still asking 20,000 dollars for it. So I know all of this going in. I also educated myself that the four-door Sport version of Jeep Wrangler Unlimited (the word Unlimited means it has 4 doors, otherwise it is called just Jeep Wrangler) is the base model. If they add any other words, if I saw the word Sahara, I know it costs more, and if it said Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon, it cost even more. There are a couple of other expensive models, a Willys (pronounce “willis”) version that looks vaguely military, like it may have a big star on the hood, there is a Hard Rock version, and Polar version some years — but these upgraded versions really have some nice equipment on them: leather interior, backup cameras, and online systems for navigation and Sirius satellite radio. And the stuff I like the best is maybe hardcore offroad equipment, side steps or rock guards, Dana 44 rear axle or Dana 30 front axle on the 4 wheel drive drive trains, even push-button lockers activated by onboard air-compressors! (you can lock the front two or back two wheels (or all 4) so that they turn in unison, upgrading traction ability in certain circumstances off-road) different gearing in other words, that may enable the trained driver to go over more interesting obstacles, get out of messier mud-puddles, and still drive you to work and back without looking like a monster truck. All of that costs money, thousands of dollars for the Rubicon over the Sport model.
So I went in looking for a Sport. I told them the MSRP and the salesmen within hearing actually laughed, “where’d you hear THAT number?!” Uhhh…Jeep.com? Ever been there? Take a look. It was like a Seinfeld episode where Elaine breaks up with her boyfriend, Putty, the car salesman, and Putty starts adding thousands of dollars onto the price of Jerry Seinfeld’s car, on an old-fashioned adding machine with a paper ribbon feeding out; it’s funny! He’s talking as the ribbon of paper grows longer, well there’s tax title license, Jerry’s nodding, like okay, I get it, then, there’s the key charge two hundred dollars, the wheel charge, three hundred. Jerry stops him, hey wait a minute Putty, what’s the “Key Charge”?, come on! “You gotta start it, don’t you?” and he keeps adding.
The MSRP for a Jeep doesn’t include wheels or an engine, apparently, because for a 2015 JKU (that’s what Jeep people call a Jeep Wrangler Unlimited), I could not get one in my zip code, at any dealership for under 30,000 dollars. It is hard to find the original factory MSRP — I might have to contact Jeep and ask them for historic information, but I just looked for it, and all I found were used ones in my area. A used 2015 model like the one I bought, with 15,000 something miles on it is 31,000 dollars.
I long for the old days of Saturn. They torched that division during the great depression of 2008. They tried selling it to Penske, and other places, Korea was going to buy it, but everything fell through, and by Fall of 2009 Saturn ceased to exist. Production of the final car had ended earlier that year. I still see them around. They were good cars! I’d like to have one of those Skye 2 seater convertibles! I see those in my town every week. They still look new, to me. It was a good product. The only car that ever was really “no haggle”. Now, I like Carmax because they also have no-haggle pricing.
If you need to sell your car, and you go to Carmax, they will evaluate it. You’ll have to take an hour or so, and a mechanic will drive it and look at it as part of the evaluation, then they’ll write you an offer that is good for 7 days at any Carmax. Same when buying. You go there, it says 15,000 on the window, and that is the price, no more, no less. They are the only company I know who does that.
We sold our old car to Carmax, in California. My wife was unfortunately in an accident, someone else’s fault, and she received a check for her car. We took it in to a Carmax here in our new town on the East Coast, and bought a car for whatever her payout was, plus we added a couple grand, I think. But the price was the price.
Now if only ALL car dealerships could do that. That is all I ask for! Nobody likes all the bullshit you have to go through to buy a vehicle, nobody! Do NOT ask me what I want my monthly payment to be! Do not ask me what I’m looking to spend — I know, that is your training, that is the script, to only talk about monthly payments, the customer’s budget, anything but the price.
Tell me the fucking price, I’m begging you, PLEASE.
Until then, I will buy another car. I will buy another motorcycle. I will go through the same bullshit as every other time. The sticker says 30,000 but if you put 6,000 down and buy, this weekend only, we can take off 1,000, and give you another 1,000 in dealer incentives, and throw in 24 hour towing service and oil changes for a year for only 25,999!!! Whatever the fuck all that meant.
Will you car manufacturers and dealers just finally someday get it? I only wish we could identify all of you. Whenever you went to the movies, we’d offer you deals on the ticket prices. When you shopped for groceries, we’d offer you one-day-only sales on loafs of bread, usually 2.00, today, only 1.99 if you pay cash! And clothing, Levi’s on sale, only 30 dollars, but for you, if you get credit through our company and put six dollar down we can get you the pants for 24 dollars!
You could never go grocery shopping, buy clothes, or go out to dinner with your wives, because you’d have to go through an extra hour of bullshit for every single purchase you make, and you would BEGIN to know how we feel, those of us who buy motorcycles or cars from dealerships, because of those bullshit sales scripts you train your salespeople to use. Especially for us old people (in my 50s) who have been doing this for over 30 years, you could begin to get an idea how disgusted I am to feel like I’m being treated like an idiot every time I need a vehicle. You know, adults understand interest rates, down payments, how much interest you pay over a period of 60 months at a given percentage rate. We learned math, in school. Did you know that? You do not treat me like you know that.
But I know, because I have tried. I could ask a salesperson to read this essay and then tell me the price of the car I’m interested in, and she or he would still not deviate from the script — I swear you must hook them up to car batteries and shock them if they talk off-script. They’d read this and answer with, “the price? Well, it depends; how much do you want to spend? What do you want your monthly payment to be?”