Friday, March 4, 2011

The Story of Buying My Car

I was dreading having to go car shopping.  Because I spend a lot of time negotiating settlement agreements, I dislike having to do any kind of back and forth when it comes to shopping and doing something that is supposed to be fun.  I would rather just know the price and either buy or not buy without all the back and forth.  "Is this really your final offer?" etc...just reminds me too much of work.

So, I did all my research.  I narrowed down to three cars:  the Audi A4 or A5, the Mercedes C300, and the BMW 328.  I figured out what options I had to have, which I kind of wanted, and which I could live without.  I looked up the dealer invoice prices for all of the above so I could make an offer.  I determined my first choice and alternate color choices for interior and exterior.  Decided (somewhat hesitantly) that I probably wanted a four door if I went with the BMW since I'm used to having a four door and it is pretty convenient.  Etc.  I learned that 3-5% above dealer invoice is reasonable.  In short, I was well prepared because that's how I roll.

After work last Friday I went to the Audi dealership.  I walked in, and there was no one in sight.  It's a huge showroom, and all the salespeople sit on the opposite side of the room.  A bunch of them were clustered around a computer, laughing and talking.  I was the only customer there.  The dealership was open until 8; it was probably around 6:30.  I wandered over to the A4 on the floor, which was a light shit brown exterior.  Really ugly color.  Why would they have such a non-sharp color on the floor?  No idea, but I scoped it out, sat inside it for awhile, inspected the interior, stared at the outside for a long while.  Meanwhile, no one came over to help me.  Then I spotted the A5, which was red and extremely sharp looking and did the same.  I liked the A5 much better.  No one even looked my way.  I mean, it was barren in the showroom and the four salespeople milling around apparently had better things to do than try to sell me a car.  Finally, I got annoyed and decided I wanted a brochure.  Of course there were none that I could just grab.  So, I walked over to where all the salespeople were clustered and stood there, to see if any of them would look my way.  They did not.  Then I went over to the cashier (for when people are in for service) to see if she would give me a brochure.  She was able to get a salesman's attention, and I told him I wanted an A4 and an A5 brochure.   

"You want both?" he asked, looking a little surprised. 

"Yes," I said, somewhat sharply.  (The price difference between the two isn't that hugely extreme, and I hadn't completely decided which one I preferred.) 

It took him a solid fifteen minutes to gather the brochures for me, while I stood there.  No one offered me water or coffee.  No one spoke to me.  When he came back, he stapled his card to the outside and handed them to me, and told me to call him if I had any questions. 

I thought "Yeah, how about right now?  Are you a fucking idiot?  Why don't you offer to show the cars to me that are sitting here on your showroom floor that I just spent twenty minutes looking at by myself?"

Needless to say, I took the brochures, but the Audi was out of the running.

The next morning, bright and early, I went over to Mercedes.  When I walked in the door, I was immediately greeted by a receptionist, and a salesman was right next to me within seconds.  This was more like it.  He offered me coffee, cappucino, water, espresso, whatever.  This was also nice.  He showed me the car in great detail, pointing out every neato detail, and I liked it a lot.  It has an amazing front end with a huge grill with the Mercedes symbol right in the middle.  Very cool.  The engine is also impressive, and the interior quite luxurious.  However, the back end of the car looked a lot like my Jetta.  This was not so good, but the car was very nice.  I liked it and it was definitely in the running.  Then it went downhill.

We went back to his office to let him search to see if they had a car with the colors and options I wanted, and to discuss price.  It took him a great deal of time to find the car, but he finally did.  I then informed him that I had to go over to BMW to check out the 3 series so I did my due diligence, and to give me his best offer.  Again, he was gone for awhile, and came back with a price that was about $200 below MSRP.  (I knew it wasn't far from MSRP, but did the calculation after I left with my researched pricing.)  Looking at the price, I knew it was high.  He mumbled something about being able to come down somewhat and maybe "throw in a maintenance package" (BMWs come with 4 years/50,000 of maintenance and Mercedes does not, so you have to add it if you want it).

Really?  I'm informing you that I'm going to your competitor to look at the car that is the biggest competition for what you just showed me and to give me your best price, and this is what you come back with?  $200 below MSRP?  Are you kidding me?  I said none of this to him, but boy, was I thinking it. 

So, I left and went to BMW.  To be fair, I was biased toward the BMW anyway, although I did like the Mercedes a lot.  If he had come back with a great price, my decision might have been more difficult.  In the end, it wasn't.  On walking into BMW, I was immediately approached by a salesman, who showed me every detail of the 328.  The exterior of the BMW is sleeker and more sporty, although the interior of the Mercedes was better.  Overall they are pretty equivalent, but I just liked the BMW better. 

Also, I got a very good price, and since I told him I didn't want to dicker back and forth, he came back with it first run through.  I was glad I did my research on the dealer invoice prices, because I added it all up and what he offered was around 3% over deal invoice.  I knew that was pretty fair.  I might've been able to get him down further if I felt like putting forth the effort, but I appreciated that he got right down to business, so I let it slide.  I'm happy to give him a little commission, because he was pleasant and a good salesman.  I got quite a few bells and whistles, like the navigation, heated seats, AWD, moonroof, etc.  He searched far and wide for one with the options and color choice (black sapphire metallic exterior with oyster/black interior) I wanted, and managed to find one on a boat on its way over here, which was headed for another dealer.  He worked his magic and arranged to trade the other dealer to get my car.  So, I don't have it yet, but I should have it within the next 10 days or maybe even less.

All in all, I'm very excited!  It's cool to be getting a new car after so long....hopefully this time I won't wait ten years to replace this one.  I really can't believe I'm going to be a BMW owner!  

Oh, and fuck Chicago and your 9.2% sales tax I have to pay on this car.  Jesus.           

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