Sunday, August 20, 2006

Ditching the Albatross (Warning. This is a bit of a rant)

Back in April, the Mazda Tribute seemed like a great idea. We needed something with lots of space that had lots of safety features. I really liked the car, it was four-wheel drive so Kate would not have trouble driving all the way to Grosse Pointe on snowy days, and (at the time) it was predicted to have a decent resale value down the road. But since I am not making the money Aflac "guaranteed" me, let alone deli-boy wages, it became a financial burden. We did not fully realize how much of a burden it was going to become until I started taking it to car dealers to get appraised for trade-in.

Now, (I would like to think, at least) I am not ignorant about the wheelings and dealings of automobiles. I know full well that a car's value rapidly depreciates as soon as you buy it. I also know that dealers will not give you as much on a trade in as if you sell it. But I did not expect indifferent car salesmen with beyond insulting offers.

According to the various Blue Book type resources online, dealers should have offered around $18,500 for the Mazda. So I went to a Mazda dealer, since we really like Mazdas, to test drive a Mazda 6 and to see what kind of a trade in we could get. I told the salesman what I wanted to do, and he went to talk to the car appraisal guy. He returned shortly with a grin on his face proclaiming, "Ah, this is why I got into this business." I took this as a positive sign for me. I should have known better. Rather than just telling me the number, he had to do that salesman thing where he slid the pad of paper across the table and tapped the number with his pencil. (God, I hate care salesman.) It said $11,000. This was a full $9000 under what a used one is supposed to retail for. Sickened but not daunted, since I knew there were other dealerships to visit and I could always sell the car on my own if I had to, I suggested that I test drive a new Mazda. "You know," he said, "we really don't have what you want in stock." Did he think I was an idiot? I had walked through the lot before coming in and they had six almost identical cars like I wanted. I pointed this out to him. "Oh," he replied, "we probably would not be able to work out a good deal for you. Here is my card if you have any more questions. Thank you!" For the first time in my life, I had a car salesman that really did not want to sell me a car.

Apparently, Mazda stopped making Tributes right after we bought ours and came out with a completely new SUV. That plus various other bizarre reasons meant that our car was pretty much worthless.

The next dealer had a similar trade-in offer. This salesman, though, wanted to sell me a car anyway. So much in fact, that when I tried to leave after he ignored me for twenty minutes (I'll be right back!), he ran in front of my car and just stood there. I talked to him a little longer until the owner/manager (?) came out and started insulting me--no joke. What is with Ann Arbor car salesmen? Should have I worn Birkenstocks or Earth Shoes with socks? Would they have been more willing to deal with me, then?

To wrap up an already long story, we eventually found a dealer willing to work with us. After some of the worst salesmen I have ever run across, I ended up with the absolute best. Of course, I am not sure when Phillip Seymour Hoffman quit acting and started selling Subarus in Ann Arbor, but I guess the Oscar attention was just too much. I am not exaggerating. This guy looked and talked just like Mr. Hoffman. At any rate, he was really nice and helped us out. The dealer gave us a way better offer on our car than I think we could have gotten anywhere (including selling it on our own), and we were able to work out a decent lease on a new Subaru Impreza Wagon. It is small, but it is a really nice car. But most importantly, we got rid of the Tribute before we had to pay someone to take it.

Okay, I am done ranting now.


Emily said...

Where's the picture of Jack riding in the new car? ;-)

Tina R. said...

You're like Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman when they wouldn't let her shop. =) Glad everything worked out though!