Happy Tuesday! I am going to finish this story today no matter what, so you know what that means. Grab your snacks and find a comfy chair because we are going long. I have a busy day today, so I am starting early so I have the whole day to get this done. This means I will be squeezing in blogging around all of the other commitments I have today. I think it might be fun to document where I am from time to time. it’s kind of like The Amazing Race or an episode of 24. Can I get this done in one day and where am I as I do it?
The current time is 1:18pm. I am on the A Train on my way to teach two classes. The current stop is 168th Street, I get out at Times Square. Ready? GO.
There is absolutely no time for a “previously on MY OWN Space”, so I hope you know where we are. We left off exactly one week ago today, on 45the Street between 9th and 10th, and my car was D-d-d-dead. Like Dead as a doorknob. Like the Grateful Dead. But I wasn’t feeling very grateful. I was ticked off. The kids, who are so totally used to our car being dead took it in stride. My mood went from foul to hopeful when Charlotte pointed out that directly in front of us was a–wait for it–NYPD tow truck. I mean….they are police officers in a tow truck. I am a damsel in distress with a dead car and two kids. It’s a match made in heaven. Right?
Fun fact. NYC police officers are not allowed to help cars in distress. Even if said car is blocking a major artery to the Lincoln Tunnel during rush hour. Even if the driver of said car has her own jumper cables. Nope. Not allowed. So they just sat there.
I hate New York at moments exactly like this.
Moments later yet ANOTHER cop car came down the street and I flagged them down, thinking the tow truck driver
might just be making up a rule so he didn’t have to interrupt the urgent business he had of just sitting in his truck and watching me through his rear view mirror. Surely the other cop would help. I flagged her down with my jumper cables. She started talking without even stopping. “I’m not allowed to help, I’m not allowed. Sorry.” And she drove on.
I sent Rob an unfair*** text.
***An “unfair text” is a text that is complaining about something that the other person can’t do anything about. It is–by definition–is designed to make the other person feel guilty. Example. Your spouse is out of town on a business trip. You send this text. “The kids all have the stomach flu and I am about to lose it. I need you HERE.” Unfair text.
This unfair text said: “The (BLEEEP) car is dead on 45th street and I have the kids with me and no one will jump the car. HELP”
Rob was in rehearsals and totally unavailable to me, but available to read a text. This qualifies it as an unfair text.
Side bar. It is now 9:06pm and I am on the 1 train heading home. I am currently stuck on the tracks somewhere between 86th and 96th streets.
Anyhoo, long story short, a very friendly Irish driver pulled his giant cadillac SUV limo over and jumped my car. I tried to give him $20, but he refused it.
And…..I love New York again.
P.S. The train is moving.
So once I got the car jumped, a text off to Rob ( “Never mind” ) and the kids to a playground with Ally, I was free to go buy a car. I wasn’t sure where to head….a Mazda dealership in Rockland County that had a Mazda 5 that would start? To a different Subaru dealership to try to find a deal as good as the nursing home car? Or should I be really impractical and go try to negotiate on the un-negotiable Internet price of the loaded Honda CRV?
I have to admit, the challenge sounded fun. I headed out to the Honda dealership in Manhasset, Long Island. I called again to make sure they still had the car and got Kenny’s voice mail. I left a message saying I was heading out, it was an hours drive or more in rush hour traffic and to please call if the car wasn’t there.
Off I went to Long Giland (please pronounce the hard “g” for the authentic sound).
50 million years later, I pulled into the lot. I was hungry and had to go to the bathroom and ready to buy a car and get home.
Kenny seemed surprised to see me. “Hey there, you made it! That’s great!” He kept offering me coffee. I just wanted the car. He kept saying we should “look around” I told him I wanted to see the car. He offered me more coffee.
Finally I asked him directly. “Kenny, is the car gone?” So much hemming and hawing and asking around and waiting, and conferencing and before he even got back I’d texted Rob, “There is no car here. It’s gone or it was a dummy ad.” He was furious. I was furious. Kenny came back and confirmed my suspicions, “I guess we just sold it today??” as if it wasn’t listed on any computer and no one had ever heard about it. I informed him EXACTLY what I thought of his business dealings, and that I was leaving. And I headed to the bathroom.
Negotiating tactic #1.
I texted Rob, “Currently hanging out in the bathroom after being furious. Everyone is trying to get me to stay. Two can play this game. Might be able to get a great deal if they have a good car. Hold tight.” He texted back, “You are hilarious. Holding.”
I left the bathroom, and I have to tell you that even though I had hatched the possible plan to stay and look at cars, I was still genuinely furious that I’d driven all the way out there for a fake car. I told Kenny that I thought it was bad business practice to lure me out on the hopes that I would stay and buy a different car.
He offered me more coffee. He apologized. He swore he didn’t know the car was gone. He said he could make me a great deal if I stayed.
“If you have a similar car to the one I came for, I’ll take a look at it. But I make no promises. I came to buy the other car. I have a Subaru in Westchester that is a great deal. There is no reason why I shouldn’t just go and get that car.”
I failed to mention that said Subaru wasn’t exactly ideal.
Kenny ran all over the lot and finally found a not as loaded, but newer with fewer miles, CRV. It was a 2010 with 6,500 miles.
Please hold. I have to get off at my stop. I’ll be back in a minute.
It is now 10:32pm and I am in my bed typing in the dark as Beatrix is trying to go to sleep. Sometimes she sings to herself.
Back to the car.
So here’s what happened. Kenny and I test drove the 2010 Honda CRV with 6,500 miles on it. The car drove great, but I wasn’t totally thrilled. The interior was beige cloth. That was really my only complaint, but I had a feeling he was going to try to get a lot more for the car than I wanted to pay, so I really talked about the Subaru deal a lot, even as I was test driving the CRV. Kenny was nervous. I was non-plussed. I really was not going to buy this car, especially after Kenny told me the sticker price and it was $2,000 more than the sensible Subaru. I pretty much decided, as I was driving, that I didn’t want a CRV enough to pay $2,000 more for it. I was either going to go buy the nursing home Subaru, or a Subaru like it, and not get the CRV. When we got back to the lot, I told Kenny as much, and he sprang into action. The funny thing is, I really HAD decided to go buy a Subaru, and I DIDN’T think Kenny could ever get me a deal close to what the Subaru cost.
Kenny wanted to try to make it happen. So, we went into the showroom, sat down at his desk, and he asked to see the signed invoice from Subaru. You remember, for the nursing home car. I handed it over and Kenny crunched the numbers. He added tax. He scribbled all over every piece of paper on his desk. He would show me a number and I would say, “Kenny, my bottom line is my bottom line. Match the Subaru deal or I am leaving.” He would sigh and then go talk to his manager again and knock off a little more from a number that was previously “non-negotiable”.
Here was the scariest moment. They asked for my keys so they could take my “trade in car” for a test drive to see what it was worth. As in the car that had just died on 45th street.
I sent Rob a text: “They are taking our car out for a test drive. Pray that it starts or the whole deal is down the drain.”
He texted back: “Praying.”
They came back and said they’d give me $1,250 for it. I pointed to the invoice and reminded them that Subaru was giving me $1,600. I got $1,600. :)
At one point Kenny asked if I could get him Broadway show tickets. I said, “I might be able to do that if you can install leather seats.” He said impossible. I told him Subaru was going to do it. He pointed out that it wasn’t on the invoice. I pointed out that it was still probably better for me to buy a Subaru because the all wheel drive is rated better than Honda. I got my leather for the price I wanted. :) Kenny told me his manager had yelled at him and said, “You are too busy being an advocate for the customer! I’m trying to make money here!”
3 hours and over a dozen trips to the manager later, Kenny and finally shook hands. I was paying just under $600 more for the Honda than the Subaru, but as you and I know, I got a better deal.
Oh! And a sunroof!
Kenny told me he’d decided he was going to blow up my driver’s license picture and put a sign with it that said, “Worst Customer of the Month.” My Dad laughed like a hyena when I told him that. Kenny also talked to Rob after it was all said and done and said, “You can have her back!”
But my favorite thing Kenny said was, “You know Sharon, we did a pretty good job here. It started out like a bad date, but we recovered.”
And THAT is how I purchased a 2010 Honda CRV with 6,500 miles on it and leather seats and a sunroof. Oh, and just to finish the story off, when I went back to pick it up (which is another whole story in itself, but I will spare you), I got in the car and it was on empty. I asked if they could put gas in it, because my car had a full tank of gas, and they said, “We can only give you a half a tank because it is a used car. If it was a new car we would fill it.” I asked to see the manager.
I got a full tank of gas. :)
The moral of the story is that car dealerships have no morals and you have to go out there to win. Put on your game face, take your patience, and get the car you want. Or just take me and I’ll do it. I think it’s a blast. That you for reading the longest car blog ever. Here are some pictures!
(A quick post tomorrow, and then SMASH Fact or fiction on Thursday!)