Thursday, April 23, 2015

I wish I Could Buy a Car This Way!

I’ve been thinking about buying a new Ford Fusion lately. Don’t misunderstand. I don’t need a new car and don’t intend to buy one. But, heck, who doesn’t dream about it from time to time?

If I were going to purchase a new automobile, I wish I could do it the way BJ Vinson, does it in my book, THE ZOZOBRA INCIDENT. The following scene takes place near the beginning of Chapter 20 on page 196.

I dressed and drove to a Chevrolet dealership on Lomas Boulevard NE. I’m a creature of habit. My first car had been a Chevy Impala, as had been my last. Unless the new ones had a serious defect, my next one would be, as well. With the insurance company check for my wrecked car in my pocket, I parked the rental Ford and went inside. Fred, the friend who had sold me the last two cars, was no longer with the agency, so I dealt with a total stranger. That might be a good thing. Fred and I knew each other’s tricks so well there wasn’t much to our negotiations. So instead of being disappointed, I considered dealing with a new salesman as an opportunity.
I walked straight to a silver Impala with gray trim. The man, who had introduced himself as George Uttley, trailed along in my wake. “I want this one.”
He took another look at the business card I’d handed him when we introduced ourselves. “No you don’t. Come with me.”
I followed him to the back lot where he stopped before a white, four-door clone of my wrecked Impala—except, of course, the new 2007s had undergone a major redesign.
“I see you’re a PI, so this is the baby you need. This Impala SS is powered by a new 303-horsepower 5.3 liter V8 engine, but it’s got what we call Active Fuel Management technology. That regulates between eight-cylinder and four-cylinder operation for improved fuel economy. She’s got the power when you need it and has pretty efficient gas consumption when you don’t.”
Uttley might prove a worthy opponent after all. He’d zeroed in on my needs with one look at my card. Point for him.
“The ‘07s have a tire-pressure monitor, a new 7.0 Generation OnStar system offering Turn-by-Turn navigation, 16-inch 5-spoke cast aluminum wheels, XM Satellite Radio, and leather-appointed seats as standard equipment.”
“I don’t need a sales pitch.” I needed to take him down a notch or two. “I’m going to buy a car. An Impala, in fact. Driven them for years, and I’m comfortable with them. It all boils down to the deal, Mr. Uttley.”
“Is there a trade-in?”
“Only in the form of an insurance check. Some joker totaled my car.”
“Are you financing with us, or do you bring your own?”
“My options are open.”
“So you want us to place the financing for you.”
“Possibly.” I glanced at the sticker, took in the optional equipment—this one was loaded—and started the dance. “I’d guess this was a custom order that fell through.”
Aha. He had a “give.” A wrinkle appeared between his eyebrows as he suppressed a frown. “Whatever the reason, it’s available. And it won’t stay around for long. Not a beauty like this.”
I took in the total at the bottom of the invoice and named a figure.
“But that’s below our costs,” he objected.
“It’s got some luxuries I don’t need. I’m willing to pay for them, but only at a discount. As far as the invoice price, you’ll more than recoup what I’m offering with your year-end bonus package from the manufacturer. Take it or leave it.”
“I’ll have to consult with my manager.”
            “Why don’t we both talk to him?”


Neat approach, huh? I hope you enjoyed the by-play between BJ and the car salesman. The next time I buy a car (providing there is a next time), I intend to use this approach. Given my past performance, I’d probably fumble the pitch and ask the Ford dealership salesman for a Chevrolet product.

As always, thanks for reading. Let me know what you think of the post.

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