Consumer Credit / Credit Cards
Sometimes, It's more than Money

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By TMF2Aruba
August 27, 2002

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Hey Folks!

I just posted the entire experience of my car shopping on the LBYM board, and I wanted to share it with my friends here as well. It's certainly on topic, as it deals with shopping, spending, negotiating, etc. It's long, but I hope you like it anyway. ;-)

Sometimes LBYM doesn't have to mean spending the absolute very least that you have to. Sometimes, I believe, it's a matter of honor and class.

I'd like to share with you my car buying experience, and you'll see what I mean.

About 10 days ago, I made the decision that I was ready to replace my '92 Camry--not because I needed to, I admit--but because I wanted to, and was able to.

A friend of mine recommended that I see a friend of his who is a Toyota salesman. Before I went to that dealership, however, I first went to my local dealership which is much closer, and where I bought my Camry.

I sat down with the salesman and told him I was interested in a 2002 Highlander, and explained to him everything that I wanted in the vehicle. He worked up a price which he said was his rock bottom (and in a low voice said, "this is actually an employee price--a great deal"). Now I had thoroughly done my homework, reading everything about the vehicle, and even purchased a price report from Consumer Reports. I did feel that the numbers he was giving me, while not really that bad, weren't necessarily the best I could get.

He asked me to give him a small deposit, and I told him that I wouldn't do that, as I was still going to be shopping around. I never promised to return, but told him I may call him back when and if I was ready.

The next morning, I went to the other dealership, and met the salesman recommended by my friend. First of all, I was blown away by the respect I was shown, the "no games, no nonsense" attitude, and we got right down to business. He put a package together for me that had everything I wanted, at a price that was significantly lower than the first salesman gave me (so much for the 'rock bottom, employee price!). He gave me a very fair price for my trade in, and went so far as to throw in extras like the pin striping and a few other things."

I gave them a $2000 deposit (the max they'd allow me to charge---I want the airmiles!), signed the papers and was on my way. I spoke to the finance manager and decided that I'd pay cash for the vehicle and then just pay myself back instead of paying them any interest over the term of a loan. The finance manager then told me (his idea) that if I'd like, it'd be fine to bring in a check for $2000 less than the amount due, and they'd let me charge that $2000 so I could get even more miles. Very impressive! They didn't have to do that at all. It costs them about 3%, and I was very happy.

The next day I called back the salesman because I had forgotten 3 other things I wanted with the vehicle. I told him I wanted a remote starter, color keyed mudguards, and the cargo net. He told me, "Tony, that's fine. I'm going to charge you whatever the cost is for those. It's not a big deal, and we're not going to nickel and dime you on this." Before I continue the story, I need to tell you that they called me today to tell me the final numbers. The amount was only increased by the remote starter (and the cost, was indeed their cost--I checked!). They gave me the other 2 items at no charge.

Now here's the rub.

That afternoon, I got a call from the salesman from the first place I went to. I thanked him for his time, but explained that I purchased the car elsewhere. He went ballistic! He raised his voice and began giving me a very hard time. "How could you do that to me after all the time I spent with you?!!" I explained that I got a much better deal and even told him what it was. I also said that I had a very good experience and was happy with my decision. He all but demanded that I go to the other dealer and demand my deposit back.

I hang up, and he calls me back 5 minutes later.

"Tony, you're going to be so happy! I spoke to the manager and we'll match the deal you got and beat it by $200! Won't you love saving that money?"

"Nope. I made my deal, and I'm very happy. Perhaps you should've come up with that while I was at your dealership. And I have to tell you I resent your suggestion of going to the other dealer to get my deposit back. I made an agreement, and my word is my word. I will not reneg on a deal. I can only imagine what YOU would do if I came to you and demanded my money back. The deal is done. Thank you."

I hang up, and 5 minutes later his manager calls me!

Now they were playing good cop/bad cop. The manager was low key and tried to explain how they wanted to keep my business, that I was a local resident and that's so important to them (oh brother!!). He then said he would beat the deal by $500.

That was the last straw!

"You guys have a lot of nerve. Let me make this perfectly clear. It's no longer about the numbers. It's about respect. It's about honor. Neither of which seems evident at your dealership. I was told that I was getting the 'rock bottom/employee price'. Obviously, that was a lie. Now, all of sudden you can drop another $500? I'm sorry, but I was treated very differently by the other dealership, and I resent even the suggestion that I should go demand my deposit back. You blew it, deal with it, and do not call me again."

Monday morning, I take delivery of my new Highlander, and I'm very excited. This dealership and this salesman has earned my business, and will get my repeat business. As it turned out, I could've spent less than I did. But I'm walking away with a beautiful new SUV, and even more...I'm walking away with my self-respect intact. They kept their word with me at all times, and I did the same.

...but I still am...


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