Can one actually have a positive experience with car salesmen?
I certainly didn’t think so. It’s a necessary evil I have dreaded most of my car-buying life; right up there at the top of my “Things I Really Dislike Doing” list, along with going to the dentist, cleaning toilets and long car rides.
But recently, our car-purchasing expedition took a whole new turn.
Let me give you some context – we received this letter from the dealership last week.
We often receive requests for pre-owned vehicle models similar to yours. According to our records, it appears you have approximately ____ payments remaining on your 2014 Honda Civic and are paying approximately _____.
Being able to acquire vehicles that we have either sold, serviced or both that we can add to our Pre-Owned inventory is the best possible scenario. In a search of our customer records I identified your car as a perfect match for us. As compensation to you, if we could upgrade you to a newer Honda Civic keeping your payments about the same, would you consider letting us purchase your car?
Now, I consider myself an average and faithful Honda customer. I don’t know a lot about cars (but I did take a great course called, “Understanding Your Car” so I’m not totally oblivious.) I’ve never opened an Autotraders magazine or intentionally entered into a discussion about cars – to be honest, my biggest concern this time was about NOT getting another silver car. That’s it. All the bells and whistles and add-ons don’t do much for me. I just need safe and pretty. 🙂
Anyways, this is how my simple mind understood the letter from Honda.
“Look, we have many customers looking to buy a car like yours so we’d like you to consider this special offer. Would you consider coming out of your lease early and upgrading to a new car for the same price/month that you’re currently paying?”
Sounded like an interesting proposition.
Now I have to tell you one more truth about Chris and I – we are both TERRIBLE at negotiating prices. And I further learned that Chris is even WORSE than I am! We are both extremely uncomfortable with the back and forth banter but as the sales guy gabbed on, I began to feel this strong sense of being manipulated and my words began to “spring forth.” Something triggered a feeling of injustice within me and I felt I needed to explain my interpretation of the letter – both to this salesman AND his boss. There always seems to be so many hidden and extra costs – even in what appeared to be a very simple transaction – and I told them how I felt misled. I was very honest and kind with my words – even humorous at times – but I wanted these men to understand what it feels like to be an average customer who wanted to keep my payments “about the same” for an upgraded car. As I took control of the conversation, I looked over at Chris and his face registered total shock – he was enthralled with how I was handling the situation. When the salesman and his boss left the room for a minute, he said, “I’m so proud of you. I can’t believe how well you’re doing.”
Fast forward to the end result – I was able to singlehandedly, creatively and honestly talk these two salesmen down five times and we actually ended up with a better deal then we came in for!
…and Chris is still amazed at what happened.
The most memorable part of the entire evening was the fact that I got to be me.
No need to hurry. No need to sparkle. No need to be anybody but oneself. Virgina Woolf
I didn’t have to pretend, manipulate or impress. Something was triggered within and I was given the opportunity to express my feelings. I felt fully listened to and the four of us engaged in a meaningful conversation. I think those two salesmen will remember our time together. I certainly will be writing a letter to their boss, expressing my gratitude for the 2.5 hour conversation and the final agreement.
And I got a safe and pretty car that’s not silver.