Monday, August 13, 2007

We Bought a Car

I’m hesitant to post this, because we haven’t actually taken possession of our new possession, yet. However, I don’t have enough willpower not to post it.

I’ve posted a couple of times that Andrea and I were looking into getting a hybrid.

Well, on Friday the Honda dealer finally called us back, and told us that a hybrid had just come off the truck. If we wanted to, we could come in and “take a look at it”. He still had to clear a test drive with his manager, though. I didn’t get the call until too late in the day Friday, but I called him back, and told him that we’d be in first thing Saturday morning—and that he’d better get the okay for the test drive, because it would be stupid to buy a car without driving it first.

So we came in almost first thing Saturday morning. We had the test drive, and I was very impressed. It’s a very comfortable car to drive. And, although the main thing I was testing was how the hybrid technology works, I didn’t notice any difference between the hybrid and a “regular” car. Except that when you come to a stop, you can tell that the gas-powered part of the engine shuts off; then, when you take your foot off the brake—and before it gets to the gas—it comes back on. Other than that, it drives just like any other car.

So we were very excited. Or at least I was; I don’t know if Andrea was excited. But the point is, we were ready to make a deal. We went back into the manager’s office, and started talking numbers. And the first number to talk about was: How much could we get for our trade-in? My current car is a 2001 Chevy Cavalier, which has been in some accidents, and which has rust on the hood—so I wasn’t expecting a lot for it. The manager brought it over to the guy who takes care of the used cars, and got a quote for it, which was lower than we’d been hoping. (Not that I was surprised, by any stretch of the imagination.) So we started talking about numbers. And this is where the guy lost the sale.

First of all, right off the bat, I should mention that Andrea did all of the haggling. Neither of us has any skills at haggling, but she at least has more skills than I do, so she did the work. The first thing the manager told us was that he couldn’t give us any kind of a deal on the new car. At all. He said that they just don’t give deals on the hybrids, period. The price on the window is the price you get. So now our only bargaining power was in the amount he’d give us for the trade-in. Andrea had a price in mind, that she wanted, and he wasn’t going to match it. At one point, he left the room, and Andrea and I decided that we had a certain price we were looking for, and if he didn’t meet us there, we would walk. We eventually got about to a halfway point, but he wouldn’t move any further. (And, although I’m not giving our numbers here, he didn’t really move that far at all. We were basically paying full price for the car.)

So we told him we’d think about it, and left. And went straight to another Honda dealership, which was a bit further away, but still fairly close to where we live. We went in and told the salesperson straight away that we were looking at Civic Hybrids, that we’d already done some research, and we were ready to start talking numbers. (We didn’t tell her that we’d already been through this—including talking numbers—at another dealership.) So, again, she went to her used car guy, and they talked about what they could give us for our trade-in. And the number she came back with, to start, was the number we had haggled the previous dealer to. (When I say “we”, I really mean “Andrea”.) So, our initial starting position, with this new dealer, was where we had finished with the other dealer.

Again, I let Andrea do the work, and she talked them down a bit more. It was the usual thing that car dealers on TV always do; we would bargain with the salesperson, and then she would go back to her manager. In the end, Andrea got us a pretty good deal. I don’t know if we could have gotten a better deal, if we were better at haggling, but I do know that Andrea did a much better job than I could have.

So we signed the papers, and we’ll pick it up either Tuesday or Wednesday—whenever we can get our finances in order. I sort of wish we could have gotten it sooner; we drove to Stratford in the afternoon, and I spent the whole drive thinking that it would have been nice if we could have gone in the new car instead of the old one, but hey, these things take time.

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