Remember a few weeks ago how I waved goodbye to my campervan? That was fun. Since then, I’ve been trying to welcome a new vehicle into my life. But thanks to my unenviable ability to insult every car dealer I’ve tried to buy a car from, it proved harder than I thought.
Who would have guessed it would be so difficult to buy something from someone selling something? I was told it was a buyer’s market. I was told people who don’t try to barter with car dealers are known as ‘wooden ducks.’ I was told no one is buying cars anymore so dealers are desperate. I was told a lot of things. Things I threw in people’s faces. Things I now know on good authority not to be correct.
I figured I’d lease a fancy car like what my husband has done. Turns out never having had a credit card means I have a bad credit rating and am not allowed a lease car.
So I decided I’d buy a new car. What with all the trouble Eddie the campervan gave us, maybe it was time to buy a brand new car, something reliable with a warranty. Something I’d pay off in tiny instalments, obvs. I’m not made of money.
The new-car dealer was called Shaun. A short, stupid little man with stupid glasses on his stupid face. I didn’t like him. But I did like his car. A Seat Ibiza Toca. Remember, I think I’m doing him a favour so I take umbrage to the fact he directs all his questions and car facts at my husband as if I’m just a spare part (a spare part holding the cheque book, I might add) who, just because I’m a woman, clearly doesn’t know my horse power from my little pony. I don’t, Shaun’s right, but I still don’t think he should treat me like he knows I know nothing about cars.
‘This one’s got 0% APR,’ Shaun says. ‘This one has 7.9% APR.’
I ask him what APR means.
‘Oh, that’s so complicated, you wouldn’t understand,’ he patronises, really knowing how to rub me up the wrong way.
‘OK. So what do the letters stand for? I’d like to try and get my silly little head around it,’ I patronise back. I’ll fight him.
‘I don’t know,’ he says. ‘I’ll go get my manager.’
We test drive the car and leave. I decide I’ll make him an offer, because I am not a wooden duck and I am not going to give him as much as he wants. I (by which I mean my husband) call around first, seeing if I (he) can find the same car cheaper elsewhere. Which I (he) can. Bargaining power.
Gaz has briefed me on exactly what to say in order to remain a) polite and b) in control. But all that goes out the window when Stupid Shaun starts ruffling my feathers, banging on about charging me more if I want paint on my car.
‘LISTEN SHAUN,’ I shout, interrupting him. ‘I CAN GET THIS CAR £900 CHEAPER IN NOTTINGHAM. SO HAVE WE GOT A SALE OR WHAT?’
Gaz shakes his head wearily. I have not played my cards right.
Shaun tells me that no, we have not got a sale.
Gaz reminds me what I was supposed to say. Nevermind. I’ve changed my mind anyway. Let’s get a second hand car.
We go to a second hand car dealer. Find a nice car. Drive it. Tell the nice man we want the nice car. We’re taken into a secret back room to speak to someone with a more aggressive sales technique than the man who showed us the car. I think his name was Tom. It doesn’t matter. He had a face you’d want to punch and an ill-fitting nylon suit that said: ‘Hi, I’m in sales.’
Gaz and I made a pact. Good cop, bad cop. I’d be stubborn and Gaz can be all rolling of eyes, chuckling with the salesman about how I won’t budge on the price.
Tom starts with niceties about the weather and such. ‘Do you live locally’? he asks.
‘WE WANT £500 OFF THE CAR,’ I shout, slamming my fist on the table and spilling Gareth’s tea. Boom. Bad cop is in the building.
‘No,’ he said.
‘I’m not a wooden duck, Tom,’ I say, showing off that I know words. ‘I want a good price.’ More bad cop.
‘No,’ he said.
I usually get my own way. Tom’s earnings are based on ensuring I don’t. So I stand up to leave. Gaz shoots me a: ‘Sit down, you dick. I haven’t even finished my tea,’ look. But I didn’t care about tea. If I wasn’t getting a discount, I didn’t want the car. I’d promised myself that much.
Tom goes off to speak to his boss about waiving the road tax. The lights dimmed, the music was tense. I sit back, satisfied I’ve nailed it, playing hardball. Look and learn, Gaz, this is the way to do it. Just stand up and act like you’re about to throw your tea in a man’s face.
He comes back.
‘No,’ he says.
Stubborn to the bitter end, even as we walked away I held out hope that they’d come running after us, telling us we’d won. Nope. Nothing. I just spent two days waving my sword around in car showrooms, acting like it was a buyer’s market and I’m left with nothing. Probably could have been a bit more tactful, a bit more polite and flexible, but IT IS A BUYER’S MARKET AND I AM NOT A SITTING DUCK. Or whatever the hell it’s called.
Well, Tom and Shaun may have won the battle but they did not win the war, because I have since found a car salesman willing to knock £500 off. And I won a car from him instead. Now I’m a happy duck on wheels once more.