Tuesday, 16 August 2011

The upshot is, I still don't know how real people buy new cars


My slowly dying car has been experiencing, well, an acceleration of the process, so it was time.

I’ve been looking at cars, and the Honda Insight seemed to be the car for me.  Hybrid, cool color, company I trust. Went through the whole build-it-price-it on the web so I knew about how much it would cost me, with all the options I wanted.  I had a list of options I wanted and options I didn’t and even an idea of what I’d try to get them to throw in (once I spring for the $500 gewgaw, they can damn well throw in the $30 thingamabob, right?).

Only problem is that my friend Ken noticed that when you do build-it-price-it on the web, it only shows you the 2010 model.  So, it being the beginning of the 2012 model year, I was prepared to be upsold on the 2012. But okay. I’m prepared. I have a clue about how much should cost, now much I’m willing to pay, etc.

So I figure I’d walk in, we’d haggle over stuff for a couple of hours, and they’d say to come back in six months when the car actually arrived from wherever they arrive from. Well, six months, six weeks, six days, some length of time. At which I would have been prepared with a check for the down payment ‘due on delivery’.  This, it turns out, is not want happened.

Ken and I walk into the Honda dealership, and I do what I swore to myself I wouldn’t do. I walk up to the reception desk and say “I’d like someone to sell me a car, please.” I needed Ken there because I felt I was much less likely to have an anxiety attack in front of someone I know.

Anyway, this is how my new best friend Alex enters my life. Alex is a very sweet guy trapped in the body of an intimidating man in a suit. Alex really, really wanted to take me on a test drive because he’d never been in the Insight. It was cute.

So here’s where stuff turns surreal.  The production of the 2011 model year on the Insight, if there ever was one, was interrupted by the tsunami last spring. So basically, there isn’t a North American Insight in the 2011 model year, or the 2012 for that matter.

The last three Insights in Manitoba are on the lot. One, perhaps the last one in my color in Canada, is on the floor of the showroom.  So if that’s the car I want, that’s the car I’ll take. We looked at what was on it, and it was fine. No leather steering wheel cover, no fancy self-dimming rear-view mirror with integrated compass, whatevs.  It’s fine. So there’s basically no upsell. Alex disappears for a while and comes back with a number that’s actually less than the base MSRP of the model.  

So I let them sell me some undercoating and an upholstery repair/replace package and that sort of thing, and then the next thing I knew (well, it was 3 hours later) I whipped out a credit card to pay the down payment and they were talking about whether I wanted to drive away with it, wait until tomorrow (Saturday) or what. It was very weird. I had to talk them into letting me come in to pick it up on Tuesday (today) because I was totally not prepared to put it anywhere, given that I hadn’t yet even really begun to arrange what to do with my old car.

Speaking of which after dithering all weekend about green automotive recycling and contributing to the Canadian Diabetes Association or the kidney people or something, my friend Ken called at noon and said he found a wrecker/parts salvager who’d give me $300 for it, so that’s what we did, on the way to the dealership to pick up the new car. Which is a story in and of itself, but the point is, I know have a new car. And I’m hoping the roof of the parking garage doesn’t drip salt on it all night.