Earlier this month, my car, the Awful Boat, started acting liked it was about to go to the Great Car Unknown, so the Boyfriend Unit and I traded it in, after looking at many new and used cars.
I hated it.
The actual process of picking out a car — deciding on the model, interior, perks, etc. — was a bit frustrating, but fun at the same time. I liked looking at all the cars I can’t afford, and wincing about most of the ones I can.
The part that I hated the most? Dealing with salespeople. I know, everyone hates dealing with car salesmen, they are up there with politicians, creepy preachers and the kid who plays with his iPhone at the movies.
Most complaints that I’ve heard about car salesmen is that they are too pushy, they constantly call or pester you to make a sale, and they might smudge details about a vehicle so it’s more appealing.
I wish we encountered that, or some attention from salesmen. Instead, we were ignored at the dealerships, left to wander the vast wastelands of domestic and imported cars, blinded by their shiny new paint jobs. When we are able to capture the attention of a domesticated peddler, we were treated like pariahs, riffraff, someone to humor until we decide to leave.
We realize that we were not buying the most expensive of cars, but neither were we looking for a cash car or the cheapest car on the lot. We knew what we wanted, we knew what our budget was, and we’re reasonably well-informed about the cars we did want to look at.
Salesmen are guilty only of what so many of us do on a daily basis – judging a book by its cover. We didn’t go to dealerships dressed to the nines, looking to impress; indeed, we did just the opposite. While we do not quite resemble hobos, we were quite casual in our attire — flip-flops, tee shirts, ponytails (on me, at least).
We didn’t seek out salesmen, we waited for them to come to us. It’s a game, really. If a salesman is brave enough to venture outside his air-conditioned dealership, and talk to us like human beings, they will get our business (if they are selling the car we want, of course).
“For every sale you miss because you’re too enthusiastic, you will miss a hundred because you’re not enthusiastic enough.” — Zig Ziglar
The only time we encountered a salesperson that actually treated us like human beings was at a Chevy dealership, and the guy had only been there a week. He was nice and very personable, if a bit unknowledgeable about the vehicle, but his sales manager was horrible – talking down to us (and to New Guy), treating us like we were wasting his time, up until he found out that we could actually afford the vehicle, and then some. Then we were his best friends, and he became the pushy salesperson we all love to hate.
All of the other salesmen at the other dealerships would barely give us the time of day. One older gentleman, whose chest hair was quite distracting, even cut our conversation short because someone else came in and wanted to talk to him. We avoided that particular dealership.
I guess you can’t really blame salesmen, though. Their livelihood depends on selling vehicles, and they don’t want to waste time on someone who isn’t serious about purchasing a car. But there are many types of vehicles on the market, from many different dealers, and in the end, you can try to sell the car and the brand, or you can sell yourself and the company – make the experience as pleasant as possible and make yourself stand out in consumers’ minds in a favorable way.
But without that personality, you’re just another polo-shirt taking up space at the dealership.
In the end, we ended up with a 2013 Volkswagen Golf. Why did we end up with a VW? Multiple reasons. We’ve both had VWs before, and loved the feel of them, and the dependability. The Golf had the features we both wanted – Bluetooth, horsies, size, warranty, and the Outlaw (as we dubbed our salesman) was honest. If he didn’t know something, he didn’t bullshit us.
We were originally trying to decide between a Golf and GTI, the GTI was more fun, but the Golf is a bit more practical. Problem with the Golf was that they didn’t have the wheels we wanted or the color, and the GTI was a bit too pricy. When we went back to the dealership after a lunch break, Outlaw had actually found the Golf we wanted, and offered us a price break.
What made us happy was that he found the cheaper car we wanted. Most salesmen would have tried to find the more expensive car to sell us, knowing their commission would have been bigger, but he knew we would be happier with the Golf.
And we are, we both love it.