There is probably one thing most consumers hate more than anything else is shopping for a new car. Having been in sales for most of my life, I know how to play the games and navigate the ins and outs of negotiations. I've never sold cars, but I've bought enough of them to gain knowledge in how to get one.
Our 2001 Nissan Altima was on its legs so to speak. Marcy, my wife, and I didn't want Michelle, our daughter, driving the Nissan back and forth to school and visit friends, during the winter. I also didn't want any new large repair bills, either. Every time we brought the Nissan in for service, it cost around $700. I didn't want to have to pay that anymore, so off we went in the hunt for a new car for Marcy.
Marcy said numerous times that she liked the new Honda Civic. I liked the new Mazda 3. I called the Honda dealer, which I visited in June. I told the sales person we were going to be in that Wednesday. Unfortunately, that was the only day Marcy and I were going to be off together, but the sales person said he was off that day. He told us to ask for the sales manager.
Then I called Ken at the Mazda dealer, from whom I had gotten my car. I told him that we would be in on Wednesday to see him.
I wanted to trade in the Altima and not try to sell it privately. I simply didn't have the time or patience to place an advertisement or talk to strangers and waste my time waiting for people to show up.
Both dealers offered us $500 for it and I was happy to take it. I told Michelle she should get the stereo taken out and install it in the Camry that she was getting. She procrastinated so much that she ran out of time. The stereo and speakers were worth $200.
We get to the Honda store, talk to the sales manager who introduces us to Dave. He's a very nice fellow, but trying a little too hard to be funny and nice. I knew that would work in my favour. We took the Civic out for a drive and Marcy liked it. We were looking at the base model LX, which is all she wanted. The fewer fancy gadgets the car has, the happier is March.
Dave started out at a ridiculous price of $215, a month, for a lease. I still had my cane to help me walk and I pointed out to him that I didn't need the cane just for walking. I think he understood what I meant. He's doodling on a pad of paper and he comes down to $199 a month.
I told him we were getting a car, today, whether it was from him or someone else, so stop screwing around with the price. He walked away. When he came back, the price dropped to $175 a month. I just stared him down and said again, we're doing it today, do better.
He went to the sales manager again, and came back with his final number of $165 a month for 39 months. That was a deal with which we could live. He said that price was good that day only. I said fine, that we were doing this today. Marcy said we'd be back, that we had to have some lunch.
On our way to the Mazda store, we stopped and had pizza. I also called the insurance agent to tell him what was going on and get prices on the two cars. Tom, the insurance agent, said that as soon as we decided, let the office know, and give this information to the dealer.
We got to the Mazda store. I found Ken. He sold me my car six and half years ago and is a straight-ahead kind of sales person, as I am. I always liked dealing with him.
He gave us the keys to a new model 3 and away we went. Marcy didn't like it. She said it rode too high and felt cramped; it reminded her of a rental car.
We go back to the store and crunch numbers with Ken. His lease was $170 a month for 42 months. At that point, the price didn't matter, since Marcy didn't like it.
We headed back to the Honda store. When we arrived, at the Honda dealership, we saw Dave outside. We told him let's get this going. After doing some paperwork and leaving a deposit, we picked the following Monday as when we would pick up the car.
That night, both Marcy and I were tired. I just wanted to get the deal done. I knew the business manager would come over and try to sell us some extra stuff, which he did, but not in an overly pushy way. We declined, finished the paperwork and off we went in the new car.
There are many good services such as True Car on the internet to price a car to buy, but leasing is a bit harder. The trick is to put down as little as possible while still getting a reasonable monthly payment. Our goal was $200 a month or less; we certainly accomplished that.
The next time you're looking to lease a car, bring your cane and keep saying no until they come to you with a number that makes you happy.
Matt Seinberg lives on Long Island, a few minutes east of New York City. He looks at everything around him and notices much. Somewhat less cynical than dyed in the wool New Yorkers, Seinberg believes those who don't see what he does like reading about what he sees and what it means to him. Seinberg columns revel in the silly little things of life and laughter as well as much well-directed anger at inept, foolish public officials. Mostly, Seinberg writes for those who laugh easily at their own foibles as well as those of others.
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