While my insurance adjuster was looking for my old car, I was looking at a new one. Kim, Matthew, and I spent that Saturday at nearby dealership, test-driving multiple models and evaluating colors. We finally settled on one that afternoon – a different color of the same model I’d already test-driven – and the high-tech haggling began. We sat down in our salesman’s open cubicle on the sales floor and met his manager, who then disappeared to his own desk to leave us to our negotiations. We made an offer, which the salesman said he would have to run by said manager. Nothing new about that.
What was new was, he didn’t leave the desk to go talk to the manager; he input the number into an app on his PC, hit Send, and waited for the manager’s reply. It came back within seconds, saying our offer was too low, as the margin was so narrow on that particular model. He sent back an alternate figure, complete with financing options based on various down-payments. We didn’t like the figure, as it appeared to be the original sticker price.
We negotiated and made another offer, but it was contingent on the answer to a question we had. The salesman didn’t know the answer, so he started typing it into the app. Before he finished, he said it would be easier to just ask the manager in person, so he turned around and shouted over the cubicle wall, at which point the manager’s head appeared, like a game of Whack-a-Mole. We’d been sending electronic messages to someone who’d been less than ten feet away the entire time. In my head, I heard a voice saying, “Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain!”
We finally agreed on a purchase amount after he’d returned to his cube and again started pretending he couldn’t hear my verbal offer just across the wall, and we moved forward with a deal. I had to be downtown for a show that evening, so we finished the paperwork and left the car in their hands as they prepared it for us to pick it up the next day.
Kim drove me back over on Sunday afternoon, we all shook hands, and I walked out with the keys and a lot of new debt. She wanted to take a ride around the block before taking her own car home, so we hopped in and pulled out of the parking lot. Before we reached the stop sign at the end of their driveway, the dashboard was blinking error messages at me.
The indicators lit up and the digital read-out flashed “______ system error” for every automated system I knew this car had – plus a few they hadn’t told me about. I turned around, drove it back into the dealer lot, found my salesman, and told him something was wrong.
They had no idea why such a thing would happen, unless one of their technicians had accidentally disconnected the car’s main computer from all of its warning systems. But there were no technicians onhand to confirm this, as it was Sunday afternoon. Embarrassed, the salesman asked me if I would mind leaving it with them overnight, so he could have the service department take a look at it first thing in the morning. No. No, I wouldn’t mind allowing service to determine why my brand-new car was flashing warning lights at me.
The following morning, I received a text message from the service department: “Hi Daniel. This is your Service Advisor. Should you need anything throughout your visit, please reply to this text.” It’s worth noting, I was still at home. I guess the service department has an automated system that communicates with waiting customers after they drop their cars off. I couldn’t decide whether to be amused or annoyed that they were treating me like a customer who’d brought his car in, even though I’d never gotten it off their property.
The service tech called me a little later to say they’d reset the fault codes and driven my car around a bit to try to replicate the error, but no messages had popped up. There was nothing they could do without a “hard error” so they were assuming it was fixed, and I could come and get it any time. I called the salesman to let him know what service had told me; he grumbled something about it actually being a hard error, then offered to continue driving the car to make sure the problem wouldn’t happen again. I told him that was fine, I could drop my rental off down the street and get a ride back to the dealer, by which time he’d probably have the new car back at their lot.
When I arrived, he was still out driving it around, so I texted him and sat at his desk to wait. Quite a few dealer employees dropped by to meet me; it seems I (or the car) had gained some small bit of local fame.
The salesman returned, walked up to his desk, dropped the key fob onto his desk in trepidation, and informed me the error messages had come on again. I asked him if they had an identical model in stock – preferably one that works.
Kim was at her office by now, but would be free in the afternoon. I asked her to come back to the dealer, as we had a whole new set of paperwork to sign. We would have to cancel the previous day’s contracts, stop the tag request from going to the DMV, and fill out new contracts for the second car. I didn’t even argue when I saw they had the previous date on the warranty agreement, but I swear that thing had better not crap out the day after it expires, when it should technically still be covered. I was just too tired to argue about it, though.
Meanwhile, I’d talked to the insurance adjuster and found out we actually could afford the down-payment we’d agreed to, so there’s that. Plus, even with the delays and hassles, we got nice new car out of the whole experience.
I’ve since driven by the site of the accident multiple times and noticed one of the fenders is still sitting there on the shoulder, where those guys dropped it after carrying it off the road. I feel a little guilty about that, but I have no idea how to transport something like that, nor where to take it. Plus, I’m a little hesitant to pull off the road there – that would require slowing down, and slowing down is dangerous around there. You never know when some idiot behind you is going to plow into the back of your car.