Friday, April 28, 2017

Spring Break Car

March 15, 2017: Jake and Dylan with their spanking-new Kia Soul.

It's been five weeks since Spring Break. As usual, I planned to get caught up on a lot of things during our two weeks off. As usual, it just didn't happen. There always seem to be so many unplanned events that arise, mostly good, but interruptions nonetheless.

At every break, I spend the first few days just vegging out, enjoying the knowledge that I don't have to rush to work or deal with students and deadlines for sixteen whole days. This year, one of the first interruptions to follow the lovely days of "sleep in-watch videos-check Facebook-read books-take naps-check Facebook-wear pajamas all day-snack rather than cook-check Facebook" (you get the picture) was a trip to Phoenix to assist Dylan and Jake in the purchase of a brand-new car. 

The Kia Soul, Jake's gotta-have.

This was not a used car, mind you. Jake had been researching a variety of vehicles and finally decided that his dream car was the Kia Soul. Based on the advertising he saw (which turned out to be very misleading), it seemed that he could get a better deal on a new car than a used one. Once I discovered that the advertised value did not match the actual cost, I advised purchasing a used model instead, but by then it was too late. Jake was in love with the 2017's features.

Now, my whole purpose for accompanying Dylan and Jake on this car-buying trip was to cosign (my excellent credit gets low interest rates) and to help them negotiate the price. I've gotten pretty good at negotiating for used cars, but I've never bought a new car before. I learned on this trip that auto dealers have a whole different repertoire of "reasons" they can't negotiate the price of a new car, which we all know will depreciate by thousands of dollars as soon as it's driven off the lot by the new owner. That's a lot to pay for a new car smell. Let's just say it got a little bit ugly before we signed on the dotted line.

As soon as we identified the model that Jake wanted, I asked what the actual price was. In fact, I asked at least three times, maybe four, during the first thirty minutes. The dealer put me off every time, which started me on the slow burn, but I was still nice. When we finally sat down and he gave me the price, I just looked at him and said, "No, we aren't paying that." The amount was about $5,000 over the advertised price. 

I looked at the guys and picked up my purse, ready to walk, so the dealer called in the manager, who assured us that the law doesn't require them to show the "small print" on phone apps (where Jake had done his research). It was a total bait-and-switch, and this was where my gloves came off. I called him out on his dishonesty when he lied about another dealership's practices, as well as the deceitful nature of their ads, and he threatened to withdraw the pitiful offer he'd made if we left. By the time we were done, the manager wouldn't even look at me for the rest of our time there.

The scenery we endured for a full four hours at Earnhardt Kia.

In the end, although I still wasn't happy with the deal, I had gotten them to drop about $2,000 off the price, with a payment that matched what Dylan and Jake had set. The deciding factor for me was that they gave us an even lower interest rate than I'd been hoping for. The only hurdle left to jump was dealing with the financial guy and the contract. Predictably, he pressured Dylan and Jake to purchase the "platinum standard" $3,000 extended warranty. For a 2017 model with eleven miles on it. That's right, eleven.

I said no, the guys said no. He wanted to know why. He said, "What if I could get it for you at no additional cost?" By now I was tired and cranky and ready to start the three-hour drive back home. Enough of this nonsense. So I asked, "How exactly can you do that?" He insisted, "Well, what if I can?" I said, "You can't. You know what, you're losing me. I'm done. We don't want it. Let's move on, I want to go home." He looked at me in surprise, then started giving us the papers to sign. Not another word about warranties.

April 4, 2017: Jake and his "stormtrooper helmet" Kia, to which he's added
the Star Wars Imperial Crest sticker in the center of his back window.

The good news is that Jake loves his new car (not bad for a guy who only got his driver's license a year and a half ago, at age twenty-four) and it performs very well for him. For a while, Dylan and I gave him a hard time about how "ugly" it is. I don't like the looks of "boxy"-shaped vehicles, so I think the front of his Soul is kind of cute but the back is ugly. But then someone pointed out that the back of his white-with-black-trim car actually resembles a storm trooper helmet. Okay, we're all big Star Wars fans, so now I think it's kind of cool. Nice car, Jake.

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