Thursday, July 12, 2007

Buying Carol's New Car

As some may or may not know, I am buying Carol a new car. A new Beetle, in fact. She has had one for years and it has been very good to us. It has over 180,000 miles on it, is almost 10 years old, and everything is fine except for the air conditioning. What is specifically wrong with the A/C we don't know, but the estimate we got from Hudson Valley VW was that it could get upwards of $2,000 (half of that to fix a problem that needed correction before they could even attempt to diagnose the A/C itself...long story). We weren't prepared to pay half of that on that car. So...

Carol and I decided that it was time for her to get a new car. The only thing she even wanted to consider (other than a brand new TT) was a new Beetle. The place I go to get my car serviced is Danbury Audi, I figured we would simplify things by buying her car at Danbury VW since they are right next door to each other. As it turns out, that was a mistake.

We found a couple of cars that they had on the lot that Carol was interested in. There was a used GLS, and a new GLS. For those of you who don't know, the GLS model comes standard with Leather and a few other bells and whistles. For those of you who don't know Carol, MOST of the time she instinctively chooses the most expensive of gifts, clothes, shoes, purses, coats, etc. Thankfully, one of Carol's most expensive desires is quite modest. First of all, she wants a Beetle. Good for me. Secondly, she hates leather and sun roofs. Great for me! So, instead of going with what they had on the lot, we told the salesperson exactly what we wanted and she went in search of it.

At this point, everything seems to be going fine. The salesperson called us back in a few days and told us that she had found the car. Of course, she wouldn't tell us where it was. I said OK, go get it and I put down a deposit. After a few days, I wondered how many miles would be on it if it would be driven instead of trucked to Danbury. She informed us that it would indeed be driven instead of trucked, but she couldn't tell me how many miles would be on it because she didn't know where it was. I expressed that I wasn't comfortable with that, and the response I got was an attempt to throw me on a guilt trip because the salesperson had "jumped through hoops" to get me the car. I chose not to respond to that indiscretion (which would have been an strong expression of bold-faced disconcern), and moved on. She did assure me, however, that it would only have somewhere between 100-150 miles on it. I was not happy with this, but after doing some research on the web I found this to be somewhat common. I acquiesced, and Carol and I began to get a little pumped up about getting her the new car.

Nearly a week has gone by, and Carol's birthday is tomorrow (Friday). I was hoping to have it by then, but Saturday ("hopefully") was the best outlook the salesperson could give me. Wednesday rolls around and, knowing that I wanted to get the car as quickly as possible, the salesperson called me up (on her day off, which she later took the privilege of trying to make me feel guilty about) so we could meet and sign some paperwork. I thought that was great, as I expected that to help speed up the process. *On a side note, attempting to make me feel guilty about something that I wouldn't have felt guilty about on my own is a fruitless endeavor. I'm proudly one of the least compassionate people you'll ever meet. Only Carol and Labs can attest otherwise.

What I didn't know about the paperwork the salesperson was going to have me sign was that NONE OF IT WAS COMPLETED. Two of the forms that she had brought to me were the DMV registration form, and a form that expressed my acceptance of the car and the mileage. Her intention was to have me sign BLANK paperwork.

Am I mad, or is it mad to sign blank paperwork?

Who would sign a blank check? Who would sign something without reading it? Signing something with the intention of having someone add to it is, in effect, signing something without reading it, no?

I didn't sign a damned thing. Her response was that such a process is common and that she does that kind of thing all the time.

WHAT?! You mean to tell me that it is common practice for people to sign a contract binding them to the purchase of a car without knowing the mileage or the VIN?

I ended the meeting as quickly as possible. She apologized for having to make the fruitless trip out to meet her. I brushed this all off as insignificant because I wanted to end her presence in my field of vision. I walked out, called a few people I trust to make sure I wasn't losing my mind by thinking that I shouldn't sign binding, yet blank, paperwork. After I was reassured, I went home to have a glass of wine and calm myself down.

On the way home, I got a followup call from a salesperson at Hudson Valley VW, who I had spoken to as well as Danbury VW regarding finding the car for Carol. In retrospect, I should have just went with them. It wouldn't have been an out of state deal, we've purchased 3 cars from that dealership in the past, and we've never had a bad experience with them. The salesperson told me he also could have the car (the same exact color, model, etc.) by Saturday (3 days time!) and IF I WAS COMFORTABLE WITH IT the car would be driven in, but would still have less than 50 miles.

I slept on it. The first thing I did when I woke up (before I got out of bed) was call Danbury VW and cancel the order. I knew that today was going to be the day that they sent a driver up to get the car. Since they hadn't already done so, they've incurred no cost and have no right or reason to withhold my deposit. I had called before the dealership opened, and therefore left a message.

At 9am, when they did open up, the phone calls began. In the span of 30 minutes, I got 5 phone calls (I answered none of them, I was showering and getting ready for work). Two from the salesperson, two from the sales manager, and one that I'm not sure of because there was no message but was from the same phone number. I returned the call to the manager on my way in and we proceeded to argue about why I didn't want the car. I explained everything as I did here (without disclosing that I was dealing with another VW dealership), and the response I got was an expression of disbelief that there wasn't any other underlying cause to my decision. I was told that attorneys purchase cars from him in the same way (signing blank forms). I replied informing him that what others do is irrelevant.

What I should have said is "You're lying when you say you sell cars to attorneys all the time. There is an Audi dealership right next to you, and a Porche dealer next to them. You sell Volkswagens. Furthermore, even if I did believe you, I would want a list of every attorney you've sold a car to in such a way so that I may be sure not to allow them to represent me!"

Anyhow, I summed up my reasons as being uncomfortable with the car and the mileage to be put on it, and my distrust after being encouraged to sign blank forms. The manager again said that he felt there was another underlying cause, these couldn't be the reasons why. Not wanting the car, and not trusting someone I was about to give $20,000 dollars to is reason enough for me, and I left it at that.

Anyhow, I'm expecting a call from Hudson Valley VW today. I don't expect any snags along with way with these guys. To buy a VW, I never should have considered anyone else.

Anyway, that's my story. I expect (and hope) that there will be nothing of interest to say on the matter from here on out. If there is, here's where you'll find it.

1 comment:

Colin said...

Way to hold strong. I concur, reading contracts and paper work, especialy in large purchaces, in full is extremely important. Case in point: I too just bought a car. Although I oringinaly wanted to purchace a used Passat GLS (merely expressing my love of VWs), I happened upon a great deal on a 2004 Lincoln LS with 21k miles. The deal went great; they were asking $23,995 (which, through good research was a fair price even matching Kelly's blue book), i told them I would take it for $19k out the door. After about a half hour of debating between the sales rep and his manager, they counter offered $19,900 out the door. I accepted. Before signing each document I read each one thoughouly. Everything looked good, however, just before signing the purchaceing agreement I noticed that the warrenty didn't make a lot of sense to me. It was simple, they told me it would come with a factory warrenty of 4yrs or 75k miles; sounded good...what they meant to say was that it would come with it's ORIGINAL factory warrenty of 4yrs or 75k miles whichever comes first. I stopped everything, the car was built and oringinaly purchaced in 2004, my purchacing of the car was occuring in june of 2007. Alough I had plenty of miles to go until 75k, the 4 yr mark would occur in less then 6 months. The sales rep appologised realizing how silly it would be of me to accept such a useless warrenty. He correncted the descrepency and printed a new agreement with a new factory warrenty of 4yrs or 75k miles starting from the day I purchaced the car...long story short, if i had not read each document completey, think of what else they could have slipped though with as simple as a single word (ORIGINAL). Hope everything went well with Hudson Valley VW and that Carol is throughouly enjoying her new car.