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    Today I almost bought a car… (Part 2)

    Posted by Luis Serpa on October 23, 2006 - 11:09 PM

    Ok, I have to confess: After my last post (Today I almost bought a car…), I was tempted to come back immediately and close the deal.  Besides, The fact that the car was packed with all kinds of buttons, knobs and levers really helped to keep the whole situation fresh in my mind.

    So, refreshed by the unexpected good experience*, I decided to extend the experiment and visit some other dealerships. 

    My undertaking began the next day, after I left work, on another large dealership, close to the first one.  I happily entered the dealership showroom and bluntly started to scrutinize the first exposed car.  After a few minutes of waiting without being interrupted, I scanned the store looking for any nearby salesmen stalkingly ready to jump on me at the first opportunity.  There was none.  I looked more extensively and finally spotted some lumbering at the end of the show room.  I know it was late in the afternoon, but I can’t believe that I am the only one who does this kind of errand after work. And here I was, a willingly customer clearly unnoticed in the middle of a store.  After some more minutes, a couple of them spent staring directly at the idle salesmen, one (visibly annoyed) acknowledged my presence and slowly marched in my direction.

    He asked me what I wanted (I don’t know if he was too dumb to realize why I was standing there examining a car, or if he was just trying to scare me away and continue doing whatever he was NOT doing before).  Patiently, I explained that I was interested on getting a new car and wasn’t sure of which model was best fitted for my needs.  He gave me an almost angry look and commented that the model in front of me was good choice and it was the only one left…

    Can you believe that? I desperately looked over his shoulder, hoping to see a stunned manager ready to step in and save the sale, but no one was there.  I politely thanked him for his ‘efforts’ and silently walked away to never come back again.

    The third dealership I tried (next day) wasn’t much different. Truth be told, the salesman spotted me right away and explained all the marvels of his top-notch-dream-come-true car, but like the latter he wasn’t really interested in getting to know what I really needed.  He clearly just wanted to sell.  The experience was as bad as the one in the day before, worst because it took me longer to get rid of him. I was still feeling the sour aftertaste of my wasted time when I got back home and, frustrated, tried to sleep.

    I decided then to wait a few days to cool out and give it a last try on the weekend.

    On Sunday, with renewed determination, I drove to Carmax for my final attempt to find another good dealership experience.  I was welcomed the very moment I walked in. Their huge car inventory was overwhelming, the prices seemed okay, and my car’s appraisal was fair.  But all in all, I still got the feeling that the store was like an internet site coming to life.  The salesman showed me a whole row of cars based on the year/make/model I provided and, while I waited for my car’s appraisal, he turned his computer screen to me and slowly repeated aloud every and each scripted line that was displayed in there.  I was not mistreated or misled, but I was not pampered either.  In the end, I felt as if I could go there and buy a car if I knew exactly what I was looking for.  However, they would never be able to convince me to change cars, unless I was already convinced to do that in the first place.

    With that, I finally decided that there’s no such thing as good dealership experience and that my previously described incident was nothing but a fluke, some lucky occurrence that would never happen again.

    So, today I came back to the first dealership.  Not necessarily to buy, but to review the car and the experience with a more skeptical eye.  And this time I brought my wife with me.  Unlike me, she’s very objective and very hard to convince.  I was pretty sure she wouldn’t fall easily for any dealer’s pep talk…  Then I presented her to the two people responsible for my sudden urge to buy a new car: Chris Petranech and Ralph DiGangi.

    Well, my new car is bright red.

    I don’t know what that says about me, besides the fact that it seems contrasting to every other car in my neighborhood. It makes me feel like I am piloting a spaceship and, at that moment, I really don’t care how much it will affect my budget.

    After a few minutes, the feeling passed and life went back to normal.  The car is again just a car, a convenient tool to take me back and forth.  Bills and payments are again hovering above my head as old familiar ghosts. Nevertheless, a lingering sense of comfort and satisfaction, of worthy experience, stays with me.  I really liked that dealership! 

    Suddenly I caught myself thinking about my wife’s car… It is already quite old and it would be nice to trade it before it gets to 100,000 miles. 

    Well, maybe next year… 

    *By the way, if you are wondering where in the world I found a dealership worth bragging about, here’s the inside information:

    Rosen Honda (their website needs a little tweaking)
    7000 Grand Avenue, Gurnee, IL – 60031
    Phone: 1-847-623-7673 (Ask for Chris Petranech)

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