Just so that you know I am sitting on the floor in front of the SAAQ – the equivalent of the DMV, (not to be confused with the SAQ – alcohol society of Quebec), typing this on my laptop. It opens at 9.30, I have been here since 8.30 and am about tenth in line. Have to keep my spot. Everyone else is standing – my high heels are killing my back, plus I have important stuff to write.
Have you ever bought or leased a new car? What were the specifications you needed for it to have? Did you even care about half the stuff that the car salesman told you about?
The lease on my cherry red 2005 Chevy Venture is up at the end of the month, and I needed a replacement vehicle, obviously, what with 4 kids to ferry around and a lot of highway driving coming up in the next little while.
So while on honeymoon, in between visiting the schools in Monsey and stuffing our faces and doing husband / wifey stuff like groceries and laundry…. we were researching minivans. My criteria – low price AND ability to get me from A to B and back again without too many white knuckle moments. Oh yeah, and heated seats so my poor back doesn’t have to suffer too much on long drives. I am a car salesman’s dream. Take me for a test drive, if I like it I would probably buy it without haggling. Thank G-d for my husband. KoD is the kind of guy that researches everything – extremely thoroughly. Consumer reports, online reviews, comparisons, etc. We went from dealership to dealership, spent so many hours on figuring out the best deal, the best price – the best bang for my buck. The fact that many of them were offering zero down zero percent financing didn’t hurt either. No wonder there are so many layoffs – they can’t be making much money on car sales at all. At least at the end of the payment period I will actually own the car and not have to give it back after paying years worth of lease payments.
I have to say that as much as it was mind numbing – all this persnickety detail – I actually learned a lot. I wanted a red van again – that’s an extra 200 bucks whereas silver doesn’t cost any extra whatsoever. (I went with the silver). I learned the difference between a 3.8 engine and a 4.0 (more valves, better compression ratio, more torque and, of course, more horsepower…ooh don’t I sound knowledgeable…). KoD showed me totally how to deal with these salesman who are just trying to make a living but want to squeeze every last red cent out of you that they possibly can. Watching him in action was awesome. I just sat back and watched him negotiate for me. He was polite but firm. What really helped was knowing what we wanted when we went in, and what price WE were not willing to go above.
The car dealers are suffering recession too – and in I walk, recently married, and totally jobless (yep, I am suffering the effects of the doggone recession too – was let go just before the wedding. It’s really for the best anyway, I have so much else that I need to focus on right now – the move, immigration, schools for the kids, etc….) so I want them to give me a car for free, or as close as possible. Truth is we were given thousands of dollars in rebates – I could not have got a better deal, and for all the stuff that we loaded into the car, I got a total steal.
We were very lucky. We went into Chrysler and had this great young salesman who impressed the heck out of us, eager, not jaded, not yet a greasy salesman! We spent time there, I test drove a Town and Country Touring – she handled amazingly well. So many gidgets and gadgets that my head was spinning. (when KoD and the car dude were talking accessories and stuff – that’s when my eyes totally glazed over. I remember the days when we took a car trip and we all had to suffer listening to the kid’s sesame street cds. Now we have a van that has not one but two DVD thingies and satellite radio – I like it, don’t get me wrong, but life used to be so much less complicated).
We didn’t sign there and then. Funnily enough the sales manager sent us an email afterwards asking what happened, how come we didn’t buy the car that day. They are desperate for business. That’s when we went to other dealerships, made phone calls and did all the research. When we went back we dealt with the same guy, and when they gave me the price that I was ok with, it made his day. But you so have to check the fine print! We bantered back and forth, and finally agreed on a price, but when the contract was written up there was a $100 discrepancy – in their favour. Personally I probably would never have noticed it – but KoD to the rescue once again. He wouldn’t let me sign anything without checking it through thoroughly. I have no patience for these things. Again, I am a salesman’s dream. Now the hundred bucks could have been an honest mistake. But one wonders. So they fixed that….then I signed.
Now, naively, I thought, you decided you want the car, you sign a form or two, tell them how you will pay the monthly installments, and bam, Bob’s your uncle. Noooooo. Not so fast, lady.
You have to have your credit checked. And until they approve your credit, you are in limbo. I gave them all the necessary info and then we left. It was a looooong couple of hours to wait for the phone to ring to say whether or not I was approved to get the vehicle. Of course your mind goes through a million and one scenarios until you get the phone call. “What will I do if I am not approved?” – “I have good credit…..how can they not approve me?”, and then you start to doubt the fact that you will get the car, and it starts to eat away at you. We sat down to eat lunch, but I had no appetite…..
Finally the phone call came telling me I was approved, and that the van would be ready for me to pick up later that day. Yes, I cried. It’s a huge investment, second only to buying a house really, and it was something that I absolutely need. But the relief that it would work out the way I wanted it to was awesome. A huge load came off my shoulders. This way also I wouldn’t have to prevail on KoD to drive me back to Montreal, I could drive myself back.
So we showed up at the dealership for the third time, our guy was out back prepping the vehicle. We sat down and he walked us through more forms (oh joy), I signed away everything, probably rights to my first movie too, and then we went out front to learn, hands-on, just what my new Silver Minivan could do. It’s awesome. BUT we were promised a full tank of gas – and it was only ¾ full. That was again caught by the eagle-eyed KoD. They would have let us drive off with ¼ of a tank missing. They filled it up for us. He showed us how to hide the seats in the floor – why I would want to do that is beyond me, but it was one of the important features. I am leaving it to KoD to work out how to use the two DVD players, which came with wireless headphones – kids have it so easy these days! I even have a back up camera thingie – don’t my mirrors work? Technology…..
So I drove it back to Montreal and it handled like a dream. I drove at 55 mph all the freaking way because apparently according to the manual there is a break-in period of 300 miles on the car, and you shouldn’t exceed speeds of 55 mph so that the engine doesn’t overtax itself or something. The guys in the dealership said this wasn’t the case, they had never heard of a break-in period. KoD called the service manager to make sure – and he said that indeed there was one. I had never heard of such a thing in my life. Let me tell you, I felt like a little old lady driving up the I-87 at such slow speeds.
I listened to the free for one year Sirius radio on the way up – comedy all the way. It was better to be laughing while driving, instead of crying at being parted from my husband for ten days.
The little princes are in HEAVEN – they love love love the new van and cannot wait to be driven in it. Right now I am still driving my old piece of crap van – until I give it back tonight I may as well use up all the gas in it….
Yay, they are opening the doors to the SAQ – catch ya’ll later.