I visited my sweetie in Seattle this weekend. Boy, I missed him!! I flew in Saturday morning--got up at 3:15 NYC time for a 6:00 am flight, landed at 10:20 Seattle time, and my sweetie took me immediately to the car dealership.
You see, we've been discussing the purchase of a car for some time. My sweetie takes the bus to work, but in order to take advantage of all Seattle has to offer (like mountains!), you need a car. Living in NYC, neither of us had a car. In fact, though both of us had owned hand-me-down cars before coming to NYC, neither of us had ever bought one before. Yes, we are 37 and 43, why do you ask?
So there we were Saturday, together for the first time in six weeks, sitting in the car dealership. And let me tell you, for our first experience, it was everything you've ever been warned to look out for when buying a car. It was very...educational.
1) We had looked at several cars, and even test-driven one, over the course of a good hour at the dealership, and had yet to hear the price of a single car.
2) We were asked what we were prepared to put down before we were told the price of any car.
3) When we refused to tell until we knew how much the car was, we were given the "best price." Then we were asked what we were willing to put down and what we wanted our monthly payment to be before we were told anything about financing.
4) The moment at which they lost me: they wrote down our suggested down payment and our preferred monthly payment range on a piece of paper and asked us to sign it. To agree, you see, that if we were given that monthly we would buy the car.
5) When we flatly refused to sign this without knowing what the rate was or the term, the salesguy left to "work some numbers", leaving his colleague to chitchat with us and also ensure that my sweetie and I did not get to talk privately. We circumvented this by going outside to "look at the car again." Once there, we quickly agreed to get out of there as quickly as possible.
6) It took us another hour to extricate ourselves. We were asked repeatedly what they "had to do" to make it work for us. I spewed some garbage about being tired from the plane, about being nervous about buying a car after so many carless years, etc. I played the helpless indecisive woman to the hilt.
7) At one point the salesguy asked, "What if I sold you the car for $10,000?" and I scoffed, "You're not going to sell us the car for $10,000." This was apparently my sweetie's favorite moment. I guess I wasn't completely convincing as the helpless indecisive woman :-).
8) They even pulled out, "I'll give you a deal; we've only sold one car today." Which, OK, I feel sad for you, but that's a lot of money to spend to make someone I don't know feel better, you know?
We finally fled, and went to another dealer, where we were treated with respect, where the prices were posted on the cars, where there was much more selection and we felt much more comfortable. We bought a car. We call it "Car-y" :-).
It's a used Subaru Outback, with a mere 13,000 miles on it, and still plenty of time left on the factory warranty. It was a far better deal than anything we saw at the first dealership, and we felt so much better for having walked out.
We were also happy at how well we worked together on this one. Despite the fact that we had to communicate hastily and in secret, we were totally on the same page and presenting a united front on our first major purchase as a couple. Even though we spent seven or eight hours in the two dealerships, me on three hours' sleep, we felt it was a very good day.
Of course, the next day we tooled around in our new car :-).