A humorous look at the little things in life

Car salesmen come in two varieties: condescending and clueless June 27, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — ashleyolsonrosen @ 10:14 pm

Recommended wine for today’s entry: Ferrari-Carano Fume Blanc. I had this with my friends Tippi and Michelle the other night and it was perfect — light enough for summer sipping but full of flavor. Tippi’s description (and this is but a brief excerpt … I’ll have to post her long version as its own blog one day) “cold, crisp, stainless steel cleanliness, very very subtle hint of citrus, just a reminiscent memory of citrus…” It received 91 points and first place from California Grapevine, who said, “Medium-light yellow color; attractive, forward, intense, grassy varietal aroma with notes of ripe melon, kiwi, and citrus; medium-full body; rich, grassy, slightly tropical, citrus and honeydew melon flavors with good depth and a slightly creamy, silky mouthfeel; well balanced; crisp finish; lingering aftertaste. Very highly recommended. -April/May 2010.” I might note that it’s only about $15 a bottle!

Am I the only one who can’t STAND car shopping? I am a big believer in walking through the Kroger parking lot one afternoon, narrowing the list down to a couple models, checking prices on the Internet, then returning to Kroger to peer inside the ones I can afford. Unless the owner comes out just as I’m pressing my face against his window or the cart collector turns me in to security, I can shop at my own pace without harrassment.

The first car I ever picked out was a 1978 Pontiac Firebird. This was after careful consideration (I liked the array of colors offered) and a one-block test drive. There were only two snags — one, my father vetoed my first two color choices (sky blue with sky blue hubcaps and bright yellow with, yes, bright yellow hubcaps) and two, the car was a lemon. It actually stalled as I attempted to make a teenage (read: very close call) left-hand turn out of the dealership. That was the first of oh, about 70 times that the car stalled when you punched the accelerator. It only did it if you REALLY needed to pull out/merge/escape a psychotic boyfriend in a burst of speed. But I’m here to tell about it, so all’s well that ends well.

The main problem with car shopping, though, is dealing with the salesmen. Now I believe that stereotypes are rarely fabricated from thin air (apologies to all my friends and relatives who are lawyers) and car salesmen (not just used car salesmen, either) have arrived at their caricatures honestly.

They answer every question with a question, use your name so frequently that you start to hate the sound of it and consider having it legally changed, and defer anything even resembling a decision to the great and mighty Oz in the manager’s cubicle. But like Oz, once you meet the sales manager face to face, you realize he’s just a wimpy guy in a short sleeve dress shirt with a badly trimmed mustache.

The worst salesman EVER worked at the Mazda dealership in Dallas in the 1980s. He reminded me of Big Tex, the giant cowboy from the entrance to the Texas State Fair. He was tall, Texan and spinelessly constructed of papier-mache. Our salesman’s name was DJ, yes, like the little girl on the hit show Full House.

I had a serious problem with DJ’s sales pitch — after all, I was in sales myself — and well, I just didn’t like DJ very much. So we engaged in the following repartee:

Husband: OK, the sticker on this one says it’s $18,500 (I am TOTALLY making these numbers up. I know I could research this, but I don’t want to.)

DJ: Right, so to drive it off the lot, you’re looking at $21,500 plus title, tax and license.

Husband: Uh, what am I missing?

DJ: Well, we can’t hardly keep these cars on the lot, so we’re adding a $3,000 surcharge to each of them. Actually, now that I think about it, we want $4,000 extra for the red ones. Yep, so it’d be $22,500.

Husband: Seriously?

DJ: Plus title, taxes and license.

Me: ARE YOU FREAKING KIDDING ME, BJ? (Of course I knew these weren’t the right initials.) You seriously are upping the cost of the car by like 20 percent because they’re in demand?

DJ: Well, little lady, you probably never really had to think about the concept of supply and demand, but let me see if I can explain it to you…

I might interject here that I knew economics from my college days and the concept of supply and demand had been drilled into my brain: When the keg becomes light enough to float in its trough, the beer is worth MUCH more than when the keg is heavy.

AND I took a couple of econ classes too, but the bottom-of-the-keg theory was the best ingrained.

DJ: So because we have people waiting to buy these cars, we can charge more for them. Pretend you had a house for sale and everyone wanted it — wouldn’t you charge more?

Me: You know, BJ, I might do that very thing. But I almost certainly wouldn’t put a sign in the window that says, “THIS CAR IS CLEARLY ONLY WORTH $18,500 AND ANYONE WHO IS STUPID ENOUGH TO PAY AN EXTRA $4,000 AND IS WILLING TO LISTEN TO A BAG OF CONDESCENDING COWBOY CRAP WILL BE LUCKY ENOUGH TO OWN IT. And no offense, BJ, but if you think there’s a line of people waiting to buy this red car, you are wrong because I can’t help but notice we are the ONLY THREE PEOPLE ON THE DAMN LOT.”

DJ: I don’t really follow you ma’am.

And with that, he turned to my husband and began ignoring me and my excellent debating skills that caused the Vanderbilt debate team to lose every match in which I was involved. This included losses to teams from colleges who advertised on TV with a never-ending scroll of potential degrees.

We really busted DJ, though, when he was trying to screw us on our trade. He picked up the blue book, glanced at some random page and threw a number out that was even insulting for the clunker we had to offer, all while wedging the blue book  in his bottom desk drawer under two phone books and his brown-bag lunch.

Well, my husband had looked up the value already and we made stupid DJ pull it back out and admit he had “looked it up wrong.”

I held the nightmare of DJ against that poor car the whole time we owned it, and the only time I appreciated the car was when we had to push it out of the middle of the front yard, where it landed in the first ice storm. At least it was light.

So Saturday, when we went to the dealership to look at cars, I decided I wouldn’t allow condescension. I shouldn’t have worried. This poor man was trembling so hard that I almost hugged him. When asked about his qualifications for the job, they (it) included owning one of the cars. Now I’ve had a Toyota 4 Runner for six years and I can’t tell you anything except where the lever is to unlock the gas cap. His years of experience in food service weren’t really offering a whole lot of technical knowledge either.

When asked about seat coverings on one model, he said, “I’m not sure if it’s leather or leatherette.” Well, for some reason that struck me as funny — I thought he was kidding — and I gave the jokester a hearty laugh so maybe he’d stop trembling. Then he said, “I have leatherette in my car,” so I felt pretty badly. But seriously, is it just because we’re talking “near luxury” cars that we can’t use the word vinyl?

When I took it for a test drive, he kept saying, “Only take right turns. Right turns. Just right turns. Watch that truck. You won’t fit in that lane, ohhhh, you’re trying it… ok, well, uhhhhh…”

But it was when we asked about wheel sizes that he showed his deeper understanding of the performance vehicle I was driving.

“Well, now, these are 16-inch. From there, they go to 17-inch, then 18-inch, then 19-inch …”

And I swear he would have gone on into infinity, but that was when I decided to veer into the crowded left lane.

We’re going to wait a few months for my car. I just can’t shop in 90+ degrees. And besides, he was talking about returning to food service. I think we’ll just wait him out.


2 Responses to “Car salesmen come in two varieties: condescending and clueless”

  1. Deb Says:

    Huh. I’ve have a Toyota 4-Runner for 5 years and I still pop the hood instead of opening the gas-tank-door-thingamabob.

    Great. Now I feel slow.

    • ashleyolsonrosen Says:

      Please don’t beat yourself up, Deb. I bet I’ve popped the hood at least 47 times. I once had a serious nightmare about the hood flying up while I was driving because I didn’t realize that I’d opened it instead of the gas tank. Most of the dream involved me demonstrating the levers’ proximity to one another to a real butthead of a cop.

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