Thursday, June 16, 2011

How Not to Sell a Van

As you may have caught wind of, we took a little trip a couple weeks back with the mission of driving home in a minivan.  Mission:  Accomplished!

Before I get to the fun little story that accompanies our adventure, allow me to break down for you how we were able to purchase our family vehicle with cash.  We started saving up for the van pretty much as soon as the money for our roof was squared away.  We actually ended up saving up more than we needed for the roof, so we were able to roll over some of those funds into the van stash!  I set aside $450 every month to this purpose.  Our in-laws gave our kitty a much needed boost with a gift of $2500 and finally, we sold our 2003 Mercury Sable to a co-worker fro $3600.  When all was said and done, we hopped in the car to drive to Illinois with $8600 in cash all ready to go for our purchase!

Why Illinois?  Evan is to thank for that stroke of genius.  He was listening to Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University the last time he was in China and caught on to the tip that you sometimes might have to expand your search a bit wider to find a good deal.  Instead of looking on Auto Trader for a van within 50 miles, I boosted it up to 200 miles and voila!  We suddenly had dozens of vans to choose from!  From that list, we narrowed it down to a pile of 11 vans that had the options we wanted and were within our budget.  I mapped out a route for how to go to each and every dealership in one day so we could test drive as many as possible. 

We ended up driving 7 of our original list of 11 vans.  There was one that we didn't even get inside before we walked away and four of them ended up being sold within 24 hours before our arrival on the lot.  It was actually easier than I expected to narrow our choices down to a top three and we were able to make a deal on our first choice van the same evening that we did all our test driving!

We purchased this 2002 Honda Odyssey with just under 119,000 miles with leather seats and the DVD player.  The sticker price was $8748, but we were able to negotiate to get a full new set of tires and a purchase price of $7935.  Happy Dance!!  After tax, title, license, and other such fees, we were able to squeak in just under budget. 

Now, on to the fun little story from our trip.  One of our potential vans was listed as being located at Pauly Toyota Scion in Crystal Lake, Illinois.  We drove up to a new, rather large dealership and waited a few minutes for them to locate the vehicle for us.  Turns out, our Odyssey had recently been moved to their old location a mile or so away.  They gave us directions and sent us on our way, telling us they had already called ahead to let Terry know we were coming.  We drove off, followed our instructions, and found ourselves at what had clearly become the Budget Lot of this fancy dealership.  It was little more than an old parking lot with a shack for an office.  We walked into the office and were a little surprised to see that the interior looked like it had recently been robbed.  A desk sat off to the right, covered in papers and other such junk.  A man walked out from behind it and introduced himself as Terry.  We explained we were interested in the Odyssey, so he went to get us the keys.  We walked out to the van and started our little inspection routine.  When we were ready to test drive, this guy basically gave us some quick directions on how now to get lost and sent us off.  It was kind of weird considering we were clearly not local, but I suppose he needed to go clip his toenails for something. 

We drove the van, liked the van, but noticed it had a couple issues.  A ceiling vent had popped loose and there were a couple other concerns.  When we returned to the office, we raised these issues with Terry.  The response was, "Well, then you'd take it to a Honda dealer and get it fixed."  Ummmm.....ok?  As we talked more about the van, Terry suddenly started to mess with his teeth a bit.  Out of nowhere, this guy started spilling all the details about the problems he was having with his bridge and that it clearly wasn't fitting right anymore, but he couldn't get in to see a dentist until that afternoon and blah blah blah.  After poking around in his mouth for a moment or two, he excused himself for a moment.  While he was gone, we finally noticed the enormous 8 foot by 6 foot sign that hung behind his desk that explained in no less than 200 words that their vehicles are sold "As Is" and will probably have something wrong with them and that's why they're so cheap.  Translation:  Our vehicles are a piece of crap.  Run, do not walk, out that door before Creepy Terry returns!

Did we listen? No, no, no.  Terry returned, carrying some items in his hands.  I wish I was joking about what happened next, but I am not.  This guy proceeded to sit down right across from us, remove the bridge from his mouth, and started cleaning it!  He gave it a good scrub down with this little brush thingy, reapplied some glue, and then jammed it back into place.  The whole time, he was narrating about how he'd had this bridge for so many years and "sorry if this grosses you out" and "did I get it in there straight?"  I was beyond shocked!  I mean, who does that???  As soon as that bridge was back in place, the first words out of Terry's mouth were, "So, are you ready to move on that van?"

Well, after that extremely awkward encounter, I was looking to race to the door.  I stood up to go and Evan and I tried to politely make our exit.  Before we could hit the exit, Toothless Terry looked at me and asked out of nowhere, "When is your baby due?"

People, I realize I'm pregnant.  If you know for a fact that I am pregnant, I look pregnant.  However, I am not so pregnant that it is obvious to a stranger.  I found it a bit off-putting that this guy would be so presumptuous with someone he was trying to sell a vehicle to, but then again, he did just take out his teeth and clean them in front of us so clearly social graces were not his strong point.

It's no surprise that Toothless Terry was left behind at the budget lot.

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