Tuesday, July 10, 2012

The Customer from Hell

It was me.  I know the salesmen were talking about how horrible I was, how unreasonable, consoling the poor dude who got stuck with me.  I'm sure the salesman's wife got an earful tonight when the guy got home from work.

Philip has been car shopping.  Late Saturday he found one that looked like a decent prospect.  He asked me to check it out with him on Monday after work.  But with my work schedule, it seemed better if I checked it out Monday morning when I went that direction for groceries anyway.  If it looked good, I could take it to our mechanic to check over.  Then we could discuss it Monday evening and, if all things panned out, he could go ahead and buy it. 

The trouble started when I asked to take it to my mechanic.  Now, understand that this is one of the biggest car dealers in the metro area.  The salesmen assured me that their cars are all perfectly safe, sound, solid, reliable. They wouldn't sell anything less. 

Yeah, right.  He's a SALESman.

I talked to our mechanic to see if he was available this afternoon.  I asked him about the guy's claim.  He actually busted out laughing.  Truly.  He did.  Which confirmed my resolve.  After finishing my errands, I went back to the car dealer and said I would like to take it to my mechanic.  The salesman assured me that it was unnecessary but that they had nothing to hide, so we'd go ahead and arrange it.  He said all I had to do was put down a $100 deposit and sign the sales contract.

Excuse me?  Sign the sales contract?  I didn't say I wanted to buy it.  I said I wanted to have the mechanic check it over, so as to gain information that would help us decide whether Philip wanted to buy it. 

Well, he couldn't just let me take a car.

Understandable.  But he wanted me to sign a sales contract?  With a price agreed upon?  And everything filled out and signed?  I told him I'd have to read it.  Thoroughly.  And that I wasn't okay with it.  Wasn't there any other way?  Nope, there wasn't.

So I'm reading the contract.  Slowly.  Carefully.  He's getting frustrated.  I'm getting frustrated.  I asked if they could drive the car to my mechanic, because I understood they might not trust me to take the car off the lot.  Nope, they couldn't do that either.  I had to sign the sales contract.  When I got to the bottom of the minute-print contract, irritated, near tears, frustrated, I saw the line that said everything in fine(r) print on the back of the contract was being agreed to too.  WHAT?  I said aloud, "You mean I have to read the whole back of this thing too?!"  And I heaved a huge sigh. 

The salesman told me repeatedly, "You're overthinking this.  You're looking at this too deeply.  Just sign the paper, and you can take the car to your mechanic."  And I kept responding, "This is a legal document that obligates me to pay you X-thousand dollars.  This is not a minor deal."  The salesman assured me that it was no such thing, that they wouldn't hold me to it if I didn't want the car, yada yada yada.

Hey, what is a contract then? 

In exasperation he finally threw up his hands and said, "Well, fine, if you don't want the car, just leave."  Boy.  Salesmen don't do that.  I responded, still near tears, "That's just what my husband told me when I phoned him about this situation." 

He talked to the manager, came back to the desk, and told me to just take the car.  Just take it.  Just go.  Here are the keys.  Just tell me where you're taking it and what time to expect you back.  And remember, since there's no contract signed, I could bring the car back, having decided we want it, and find that he's already sold it to somebody else.  He intimated that was a risk I really did not want to take.

Really?  Hey, I was way more comfortable with that risk than with the risk of signing a contract that this SALESman claimed wouldn't be binding. 

Unreasonable of me to not want to sign the contract to buy?  Gary didn't think so.  Gary asked some co-workers, and they all seemed to think it was unreasonable of the dealership to want a signed contract before having the car checked out by a trusted mechanic.  But that is not what the salesmen thought. 

So I was the nasty one.  The one who wanted to read the contract before signing.  (How unreasonable of me!)  The one who didn't want to be arm-twisted into making a commitment that they insisted was no commitment.  How rude of me.

Y'know, I'm not likely to meander through their lot the next time we start looking for a car.

Nearing the end of the day, it appears that Philip is buying that car.  Our mechanic pointed out that the car is in pretty good shape overall but would need rear brakes.   So presumably the dealership will be checking out the brakes tomorrow.  If the brakes were missed in the safety inspection, the business will fix them.  If not, and if the car is legally able to be sold, they will give him a voucher for brake repair to be used later, at their cost, with no profit to them.  But we have to wait another day to see if this is how things actually pan out.


  1. Wow. Sorry you had to go through that.

  2. I have learned, through hanging out at an auto forum where there are a handful of car salesmen and other auto dealer employees, that it is absolutely ok for a client who is very seriously considering a car to have the car for several hours for the purpose of having it checked out. In fact, I have been told that a dealership that hassles you about this can be assumed to be shady.

  3. Y'know, the shady dealership that we were dealing with 18 months ago was far more willing to let me take a car to my mechanic for evaluation than was the place I visited this week. And the place I visited this week is one of the biggest, most well-known places in the metro area.

  4. Interesting.

    Maybe caught a crabby salesguy on a bad day?

    Whatever the reason, I'm sorry you had to deal with that. YUCK.