Lifestyle

For a new car, buy local to avoid the TV commercials

I’m going to give up channel surfing. Every channel has the same overly-earnest auto dealer pitching his cars. Of course, he counts on people like me to be hypnotized by his pitch.

Sometimes I wonder if I’m mesmerized by the sight of the general manager or owner, buttoned up in his properly somber dark suit, excitedly assuring me that he’s got the best price in this arm of the Milky Way galaxy.

I’m always left suspecting that if he truly did have the best price, best selection and best service, I’d have read an article about him in the newspaper –– you know, one of those segments where a businessman is honored for service to the community. He might even have made the regional television news.

But when I’m channel surfing, the dealer ad I see most often is out of state. One of those mega-dealerships.

I should admit I’m congenitally suspicious of any barrel-chested guy strutting around like a peacock on speed while speaking in sonorous tones. I would like, though, to own the hair salon these men go to.

And I really get squirmy when their come-on is that I’ll get to see the dealer invoice. Wow. How lucky can I get? I’m supposed to get giddy with excitement that I’m gonna see the legendary dealer invoice. Never mind that the price the dealer eventually pays is less than the invoice. By how much? Who knows? The codes on the invoice are so arcane, the CIA can’t crack them.

Now, let’s get to my confession (I nearly always have one for you): The last time I bought a car, Herbert Hoover was still selling vacuum cleaners. Recently, I called the out-of-state mega-dealer. He gave me a good price for the car of my dreams. I was going to fly to his location, unload gold bars to purchase the vehicle and enjoy driving it home.

But what I believe is technically termed “new car lust” got the better of me.

That Sunday afternoon, I drove to a local dealership offering my svelte silver dream. (For God sake, don’t any of you tell Herself that my eye wandered!) I test-drove the car. Loved everything about it except the sticker, which meant I must dicker. I haggled. I fought. I negotiated. I beat my heels on the floor.

In the end, I paid $100 over the mysterious dealer invoice. Now, I’m certain the dealer made an acceptable profit on the sale. But I saved the cost and hassle of flying to Barrow, Alaska to pick up a car from the mega-dealer. And, in retrospect, I’m not sure driving a family car across the frozen tundra would have been much fun. I mean, what if I had experienced a sudden need for a salsa-smothered burrito?

And, I’m delighted to report that my local dealer has provided excellent service and support. No complaints. None. They don’t even run television ads featuring a dark-suited guy proclaiming no one beats their deal.

Another thing is that the folks at my local dealer don’t fall down in hysterical laughter when I ask an exceptionally ignorant question.

For instance, I recently took the service manager aside. Adopting my very best confidential tone, I mentioned there was a faint whirring noise under the hood. I asked if he thought the nockitator belt might be misaligned with the fourang pulley.

Exhibiting the iron control of the true professional, the good man didn’t even snicker. After taking a deep breath, he advised me that the whirring noise might be the engine idling. He assured me, though, that his technicians would certainly look into the matter.

How many dealerships would do that?

Loren Fairman is a freelance humor writer living in the Federal Way-Kent area.

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