I got the call that my truck was ready on a Friday, and I was at the dealership the next day to take delivery. My faithful 2012 Ford F150 looked tired and worn as I drove up to the dealership. It was as though she knew it was time to take a rest.
I got to the dealership at 1:45 pm allowing two hours to sign over the old and take possession of the new before I had to be at a dinner party. I wasn’t borrowing any money from them, so I figured it would be pretty straightforward. Well, Old Habits Die Hard, as they say, and the auto industry, if this dealership is any indication, has old processes for buying a car no matter the circumstances.
The first thing I noticed when I walked into the showroom was that the floor was EMPTY, save one lonely black SUV. At 1:45 in the afternoon they said they had sold everything they had on the floor except for that poor little black sheep. I wondered what was wrong with it, that it hadn’t sold either, but I was more interested in my truck, which I spied in a glass showroom bay. She was a beauty.
Chris, my salesman, happened to be Asian, too. It turned out he was a graduate student at St. Thomas working on his MBA. I had taught the intro to Marketing at the St. Thomas business school, so we had a lot in common in addition to our ethnic roots.
There are so many features on these new vehicles that even Chris didn’t know them all. Of course he was a relative rookie to the business and sold the entire product line—I only focused on my truck. (Which could be the first an area of improvement—having salespeople specialize between trucks and cars, since there is significant differences between the two.) They wanted me to take my truck for a drive. It has a hybrid engine, and the power assist is fabulous! It punches like a sports car. We returned from the drive and I thought at this point I would say, “Yep, this is what I ordered. Where do I write my check?” and then, “The keys, please,” and I would be on my way. Hah!
They showed me to a table in the middle of the cavernous showroom where I sat. Chris disappeared, and the sales manager showed up. He had to take another look at my trade in vehicle and was running through the numbers again. We had made a deal back in July, so I didn’t think there was going to be any dispute, although the number they had given me on my truck as a trade could have been disputed, since I had put on about 2500 miles and it had turned 125,000 miles. I was ready to dig in my heels. The sales manager said, “I was able to keep the truck price the same for you, and your trade-in value comes in at $xxxxx,” which was $1500 less than I had been quoted in July.
Was it because I was a woman, I was alone, and I had touched and fondled my new truck that they thought I would fall for that bait and switch? Of course the sale price should be the same. They knew their costs when I ordered it. We agreed on the price of the new vehicle. But $1500 for the trade was a lot of money to me, and I was ready.
“No, the deal was $1500 more, and I expect you to honor that,” I said. He tried to argue, but he saw the resolute look on my face, and turned.
“I’ll have to go back and run the numbers.” They had me sitting alone again. What’s with all the waiting around? I wondered what happened to the refreshments—no one had offered me as much as a water. My salesman ghosted me. And I was getting worried about making my dinner date.
Of course he came back with the original trade number. They were going to make a killing off my old truck. After all, a little old lady was the only driver for the past four years. I figured all I had to do at this point was write the check.
I told them I had an appointment at 4:00, but that didn’t seem to faze them. I had gotten into their black box process, and I couldn’t escape.
Neither the salesman nor the sales manager could take a check. It had to be handled by the “Finance Department.” That’s where I could get my loan if I wanted one. WTF? I already told them I was paying cash and wasn’t going to finance through them. The sales manager acted surprised that I wasn’t going to finance through them, and gave me a little price break because I was paying them cash. I was appeased for the moment. I waited for the finance manager…
Keep in mind all the while the place was almost empty. There were guys behind the counter just waiting around. A few customers walked in, but it was a rainy day, not very inviting to buy a new car.
At this point I knew I was going to be late for the cocktail hour before dinner. Luckily, I was bringing dessert.
Finally, the finance manager finished his game of Solitaire and took me back to his office. He had closed on about five deals, and there were three finance guys, so I figured they sold or delivered 15 vehicles that day.
I was ready to write the check. Again. Usually I’m not that anxious to part with my money, but I was late! And he had to make sure I didn’t want the “lifetime warranty” or the “partial lifetime warranty” or the “exterior protection package” or the “interior protection package.” If you go online, all the advice is not to buy the extended warranties under the pressure of the closing and that there are other warranties out there that can be purchased aftermarket. The only warranty I bought was the “lifetime drivetrain warranty” offered by the dealership for $87.00 so they did hook me on that.
I had to transfer the title of the old truck, which added another level of complexity because it was in my late husband’s name. I had the death certificate, so that process, which took 10 minutes to make copies, was relatively painless. I had already contacted my insurance company. I had to decide if I wanted vanity licenses plates—no. There was this strange discussion with the finance guy and the sales manager about how rebates were handled… and how “lifetime drivetrain warranty” really was a ten year extension of the existing warranty, but that they would honor “lifetime”. If I had all day I would have picked at these bones, but OMG, I was sooooo late for dinner by this time. I texted my dinner partner that I hoped they weren’t waiting for me.
Finally, I wrote the check. And let me tell you, I was AMAZED they took a personal check. Really? My kids don’t even have a checkbook. I wasn’t even sure where I had stored my checks, it has been so long since I’d written one.
The finance manager escorted me out to the empty showroom. I was almost running to get out of there. I had cleaned out my truck before I came, so I had asked Chris to move a few things to the new truck. But I still had to make sure everything was out of the old before I could drive off.
It was raining when I left, and getting dark. I had to stop to adjust the mirrors and the seat again, and make sure the lights were on auto. I roared east on 394 to 169 where the traffic was backed up.
The traffic jam was minor; I raced to my condo, picked up the pie, abandoned the idea of buying ice cream and subbed a tub of Cool Whip I had in the freezer. I got to my dinner an hour and a half late!
This back and forth process has been the same at car dealerships FOREVER. We’ve even joked about having to talk to the sales manager.
What’s the purpose? I would put money down that Carvana doesn’t make a buyer wait for hours, deal with three different people and run late for a date? I can’t imagine that modern day people have the time or inclination to go through the excruciating hoops I had jumped through. It was a definite turn off. I am puzzled what they gain from keeping me waiting, making me deal with three people and eat up three and a half hours of my time.
In spite of it all, I love my new Little Blue Truck. And all’s well that ends well.
Except I was really late, they had held dinner for a really long time, and the hostess (who had spent an incredible amount of time putting this dinner together and had made the best lasagna I have ever eaten) was probably ready to blow up my truck—with me in it!