Tuesday, July 03, 2007

How Not to Purchase a Car in the Country

I think it might be easier to pass legislation than to purchase a car in this state. Did I mention we moved to the country? Living in the big cities has so spoiled me. Any time day or night if I need or wanted something I could just hop in to my car and drive maybe 5 minutes or so to buy exactly what I wanted.

Here in the country it takes forever to find anything remotely similar to what I want. If I want anything after 6 PM on a Sunday it better be in stock at Walmart or I must drive out of state to get it. No, I just do without rather than drive all night. If shopping for a car you are Sheer Out of Luck (SOL) if you want to look around after 5 pm any day of the week. I am not kidding. The auto dealerships close at 5 pm every. single. day. The only option working stiffs have is to forget about our weekend plans and spend from Noon to 5 pm Saturdays and Sundays at the dealerships. If you are one of the lucky few you might get a car in three weeks. Yes, I said three weeks. Can you imagine that? I could not.

A few months ago I started looking for a new car. After months of looking around on the internet (not willing to give up my weekends) I decided which vehicles I liked. I started making the rounds at the local dealerships lots to see what they had in stock. Yes, they were closed but at least I could drive around to see what is available. I was looking for a Jeep Grand Cherokee, Dodge Caravan or a Chrysler Town and Country.

I currently have a Lincoln Town car which I truly love! I really do not want to give it up but it is time to retire my poor Lincoln. The air-conditioning went out and it would cost $1,700 to replace the system. The door behind the driver’s seat refuses to open from the outside and the window on that door would go down but not up. It was time to for a new vehicle. I am known for holding on to a car until it is completely dead. I hate having a car payment. You might say hate is a strong word but I really do hate owning anyone money. I usually pay cash for my vehicles. Other than monthly utilities, daycare, groceries and gas I have no bills. This means I owe no one. I like the carefree feeling of my finances. At this time I do not have the cash on hand to purchase a car straight out.

Saturday, June 16th, I find a Jeep Cherokee which I want to buy. I fill out my application. I expect to leave with the vehicle that day but no, that is not how they do business out here in the country. The salesman says “I will fax this over to the bank on Monday." I left feeling deflated. Adjusting to life out in the country is far more taxing than I imagined. I work Monday - Friday 8 am - 5 pm so any interaction between the salesman and I would take place over the phone. I called Monday afternoon because you know the country folk do not open their businesses until noon. Anyway, the salesman said again he would fax my application that day.

Friday, I call again just after noon and the salesman says “I will call the bank and check on that.” He agreed to call me back to let me know the status. My thinking is he will call me back before 5 pm to say “Congratulations! Come pick up your Jeep!” The afternoon passed by so quickly I had forgotten about the Jeep. It was 4:46 pm and the dealership would close in 15 minutes! I call but there is no answer.

Saturday afternoon June 23th - I call and call but there is no answer. Surely everyone is not outside with customers. Why is there no receptionist or at least voicemail to take my call?

Monday afternoon - Hello, it is me again, calling about the Jeep. Did you hear back from the bank? Salesman says “No, I haven’t heard a thing. I will call them and then call you right back. Ok?” I agree but this time I only wait an hour and I call him back. He explains to me the bank did not receive his fax so he will refax my application. “Could you call the bank after you fax it to make sure it goes through?” He half hardily agrees and we hang up.

Wednesday afternoon - Hello, it is me again, calling about the Jeep. This time the salesman says “The bank has approved your loan.” No surprise there. “You can sign the papers at the bank between 9 am and 4 pm any day this week. Uh, no, remember I work? Really, I could not skip out on work to sign papers. I need to be at my desk or the whole company would fold or so my boss would like me to believe. I really enjoy feeling so needed. Why would I need to sign papers at the bank? Dealerships usually have you sign for everything at the dealership. Then again, this is the country so I call the bank. A very nice woman tells me I can make an appointment and she will have someone come in Saturday afternoon just for me. That was very nice of the very nice lady now wasn’t it?

Friday at 4:55 pm another woman from the bank calls my cell phone. I assume it is to confirm our appointment for Saturday at 1 pm. No, she is calling to say we need to reschedule for Monday. I explain I cannot come in on weekdays that is why my appointment was for Saturday. She said she was sorry but it was impossible to do any transactions this Saturday due to end of month clearance and clean-up. Mm, the end of the month usually happens at the end of the month so why did they schedule to meet with me if they could not do business that day?

She firmly suggested I wait until the next weekend. I explained to her that I have already waited three weeks to purchase this vehicle. I told her how my parents made plans to come all the way up here from Tennessee so my Dad could “kick the tires” with me. She advised me to call him and cancel the trip. What?! I had been very patient about the buying process here but for some reason when she told me to call my Dad and tell him not to bother …something in me…something. mean. Snapped.

“I will have you know we have been rescheduling this trip for three weeks. They have already left Tennessee and on their way here now. Why in the world does it take three weeks for you and the car dealer to get your act together?!” My rant went on for about 5 minutes or so, without cursing. Then I caught my breath. “I give up. You can forget about having my business.”

She again said how sorry she was for all the mistakes along the way and for canceling our appointment. I said have a nice weekend. She said the same and we hung up.

I was so fed up and angry I was ready to cry. I grabbed my purse and my keys then headed out the door. I picked up Snow White with a big smile on my face. For some reason she was mimicking the Star Wars theme “Dun dunt da dun, dunt da dun…” I found great humor in this since I was on my way to the dealership to give him his share of what I gave the bank.

“Is that vehicle out there for sale?” Yes, yes it is. "The way you do business is not the way to make a living. I just got off the phone with ‘your bank’ and they canceled my appointment for tomorrow. It has been three weeks since I said I wanted to purchase that Jeep and I am still no closer to driving it home. If you do not get your act together you will be bankrupt. I want my application back. Right. Now.” The terrified salesman quickly gave me back the application.

Snow White and I went to drive around a few car dealerships on the outskirts of town.

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