I have had an experience on this Christmas break that has really made me think. Last night I took my sister, Heather, to buy a car. She has had trouble with her credit and I thought I could help get her into something. The salesman was new and very polite. In fact he went out of his way to tell us, “he really wanted to be a kind salesman and not one of those stereotypical pushy types.”
When my sister could not get into a greatly desirable Toyota Tacoma, the salesmen tried to convince us to look at either a Nissan Frontier or a Chrysler 300. My sister, being eager for a car but unsure which one she wanted, allowed them to convince her to choose the 300 with the option to exchange it in the morning if she changed her mind.
The compromise seemed fair until they made us sit and wait 40 minutes while the financial information “processed.” (P.S. I have not only participated in the purchase of several cars, but I have worked at a dealership and know it does not take that long.) During this time Heather realized she did not love the car, and I told her she had to love it and she should not settle just because she needed a car. We decided it would be a good idea to go home and sleep on the decision and come back in the morning to finalize everything.
It turns out the salesmen did not like this idea. Even though it was two hours past their closing, they insisted on trying to convince us to purchase the car. First they had us talk to one of the head salesmen. When we hinted we were going to leave he led us into a tiny room to talk to his “financial advisor” who attempted to convince us what a great deal we were getting. After telling the advisor several times we wanted to leave he tried to sweet talk us with glossy promises of oil changes for five years and total collision coverage. We maintained our stubborn desire to leave so they called in their reinforcements. Suddenly we realized we were trapped in this little room with four, yes four, salesmen trying to sell us on this car. During this entrapment they had the nerve to say, “Now we don’t want you to feel like we are pressuring you…” To which I replied, “Um yes, I think you are. I mean there are four of you in here!”
We finally put our foot down and left. Had they not been so freaky about trapping us we probably would have gone back in the morning, purchased the car, and been happy with it. But their desperation was scary.
This experience has opened my eyes in two ways. One, I am not as big of a push over as I might appear. Take that President Peterson! Two, it has really made me think about how desperate our economy, or maybe just the auto industry, is right now. To go to such lengths to sell a car by making us feel like we are in a prison camp of free enterprise? What might have happened if we did not stand up and leave? Were the gas chambers next? Or perhaps they would dunk our heads in their tacky oversized fish tank until we signed? I don’t know, and all I can do is quote SNL and say, “Somebody better fix it!”