K and I have been looking at cars lately. Her old car (our second) has died the unfortunate death, and we need to get something before she heads down to her job in Vancouver in September. It's a stressful experience, this car shopping thing, but there have been a few moments of utter ridiculousness that have made it more - well, fun isn't quite the right word, but interesting, perhaps?
We started the test-drive phase of our journey last night (the first phase being intense research on the web, looking at online ads, fuel economy ratings, consumer reviews and the like). As we made our way to the west side of the city, it started gently raining. I told K how this was actually a good thing, since it would give us an idea of how the car handled in the wet and would illuminate any leaks, etc. Then the lightning started coming down. When we finally made it to the dealership we were heading for, we were in a torrential, hurricane-style downpour. I could barely see across the street, let alone take a car out for a test drive. Yet, we were there and had an appointment with the salesperson, who had stayed late for us. We had him bring the car into the shop so that we could take a better look at it.
As it turned out, it cleared up a bit, making the idea of test driving and lothopping a little more palatable. We left the first dealer, since he couldn't talk with a manager to get the price we were looking for, and wandered to another dealer that had a similar car. As it turned out, the car wasn't nearly as nice (it wasn't taken care of or properly maintained, and it showed), but there was a smaller compact car that we decided to take out for a drive. The car was nice enough (not as nice as the first car, but since it's the model under I suppose that makes a certain kind of sense), and we talked to the salesperson about it. He was cagey about the price - promising under what we wanted to spend, but not actually providing us with a real number (though he did provide a figure he thought might work). He suggested we write down what we wanted to pay and he'd work with the sales manager to get that (oldest trick in the salesguy book).
Knowing the trick, but still feeling it was worth a try, we wrote down our sweet spot figure. Then we sat and waited, as the sales manager was out appraising a car. And we waited some more. And then something really interesting happened. It turned out there were two sales managers on duty, and the one that was with us in the office said many times that he had the authority, and would be happy to take a look. To which our salesguy said, "No, I'll wait for Charlie, he knows the car." "I also know the car," replied the sales manager, to which the salesguy said "No, I'll wait".
By this time, K was starting to get pretty hungry, and we got a call from a private seller that was selling something we were interested in. Given that Charlie had no ETA for return, we decided that we'd just leave and he could call us when the sales guy had a chance to talk with him. As it turned out (no surprise), or offer was turned down and he came back with the figure he originally offered. It wasn't near the sweet spot, so we turned it down.
After getting something to eat, we decided to try one more dealership, which K had seen on one of the test drives. We drove into the lot, looked around, then went to find a salesperson. Of which, there were none. The sales office was open, however, with lots of keys sitting around. Now, a more unscrupulous person might have decided to just take some keys and a dealer plate and perform a test drive on their own. Being better people, we decided to wait. We waited about 15 minutes before finding the dealer's main line and calling it. 20 minutes after we first arrived, a salesperson was sent over from the new car building and gave us a hand. As we were being helped, the used salesperson reappeared on the lot with a bag of McDonald's in hand....