Category: Miscellaneous

How Not to Buy a Car, Update #5: The Bluff

This hodge-podge series documents my efforts to buy a new car. It has unlimited updates. Who knows how long this shit is going to take? This is Update #5. To read the previous update, CLICK THIS LINK. For the next update (when available), CLICK THIS LINK. To start at the beginning, CLICK THIS LINK. Thanks for reading!

The Bluff

My salesman, Dick Dastardly, reluctantly provided a Priced Order Confirmation (POC) to me, showing the MSRP and a few other charges, on the car I had reserved. But it didn’t show everything, and I wanted to know all the charges and fees I’d be hit with, once the car rolled in from the factory.

So I decided to hold Dick’s feet to the fire. I emailed six Chrysler dealerships within a 75-mile radius of my house and asked if they would commit to a detailed purchase order, signed by a manager, showing all charges and with no dealer extras, if I factory ordered the car I wanted.

I got one dealership to agree to this. Then I contacted Dick and threatened him with canceling the deal and going with the other dealership. But I told him that if he would provide me with a detailed POC, showing all contemplated fees and charges, I would consider sticking with the deal that he and I made.

Dastardly replied that with our deal, I’d only have to wait about a month for my car, because it was “In-Transit.” But if I factory ordered from anyone else, I’d have to wait about six months. So no, he wasn’t going to provide a detailed POC.

The bastard called my bluff.

He was right, because four to six months is what the other dealer told me. The fucker had me by the balls, and he knew it. He called my bluff, and since I was in no mood to wait six whole, goddamned months, I backed down.

But only for about a week. Dick’s recalcitrance stuck in my craw. One evening, feeling moody, I got on Yelp and looked up the ratings customers had given to Dick’s dealership. I nearly fell out of my chair. That’s because I hadn’t fastened my seat belt.

Nearly all the Yelp reviews, out of hundreds, were one-star. Customers posted dire warnings to run away from any deals with these “crooks.” One common complaint was that they loaded up “In-Transit” vehicles with additional dealer installations, after the cars arrived at the dealership. This added thousands of dollars to the price of the car. Then they pressured customers to pay for these additions, under threat of losing the deals they had reserved with their deposits.

That was the last straw. The next morning I got in touch with Mr. Dastardly and requested a refund of my $500 deposit. And, to my relief, he complied without a fight. Within a few hours, the money was credited back to my credit card.

So now I’m back to square one, trying to figure out how to buy a new car. Because I haven’t yet learned my lesson. I haven’t figured out how not to buy a car. Which is to not buy one.

And that’s where things stand at this moment. I’ll post updates now and then, to this ongoing saga, as I continue to wade through the shitstorm of buying a new car in the seller’s market of 2022.

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How Not to Buy a Car, Update #4: The Naked Copy

This hodge-podge series documents my efforts to buy a new car. It has unlimited updates. Who knows how long this shit is going to take? This is Update #4. To read the previous update, CLICK THIS LINK. For the next update, CLICK THIS LINK. To start at the beginning, CLICK THIS LINK. Thanks for reading!

The Naked Copy

I’d just made a deal to purchase a Chrysler Pacifica Limited, which I’d been told was in the process of being built in Windsor, Canada, and that the build wouldn’t start for at least another month. This is the sort of doublespeak and vaguery I’ve come to expect from car dealerships.

I was promised that after my Canuck car arrives in California, it will be delivered to my house for free, where we’ll sign all the paperwork. Then they’ll take my trade-in and haul it away. And we’ll all live happily ever after, with shit-eating grins on our faces. At least, I think that’s what they said over the phone. Or was it just my wishful thinking?

My salesman, Dick Dastardly, also promised that there would be no dealer markup over MSRP. Heh-heh, that’s the beauty of buying a gas-guzzling, gross-polluting vehicle that nobody wants these days. The Pacifica gets 17 mpg in the city and 25 mpg, highway. That’s a gas hog by today’s standards. But hey, no dealer markup! And hopefully, very little wait compared with buying an electric hybrid. So let gas prices and climate change be damned!

I gave the finance department my credit card info over the phone, and put up the $500 deposit. Soon after, an email arrived with a photo of the deposit receipt. It was a tape receipt, and it was laid over the Priced Order Confirmation (POC). The POC is a document that lists a long column of prices and fees, including MSRP price, and Destination Fee.

I quickly noticed that the tape receipt in the photo was positioned so that it covered most of the numbers in the long column of prices. That left me feeling nervous. So I emailed Dick and asked him to send me an unobstructed POC, showing all the prices. I also made it clear that I wanted no additional dealer installations (such as nitrogen in tires, VIN etching, paint protection, horse cock up the ass, etc).

Dick’s naked copy, preparing to fuck me over.

Dastardly’s reply was rather terse. He protested that this was a “naked copy” of the POC, and that there is no invoice or set price until the vehicle, which is in the process of being built, but which won’t begin being built for a month, is built. He said the price was subject to change by the factory, due to inflation.

Naked copy. I wondered about this strange choice of words. How could Dick call it a naked copy, when he’d used the credit card receipt like a fig leaf, to cover the column of prices? I responded by assuring him that I understood the price was subject to change, due to inflation, but I still wanted the complete, unobstructed POC, so I could have a ballpark idea of what the vehicle would cost when delivered.

Dick relented and sent it to me. And I felt relieved to see that no additional dealer-installed extras were listed in the column of prices. But I felt perplexed that no other fees were listed either, such as sales tax, licensing, registration, and all the other usual fees we get nicked with in a car sales contract.

It only showed the MSRP of $51,545, a $73 discount because the goddamned supply chain shortage won’t allow Chrysler to include power folding mirrors, and a Destination Fee of $1,596, for a total price of $53,067. For a ballpark out-the-door (OTD) price, which would include taxes, fees, and other charges, the salesman advised me to dig out my calculator and add 13%.

13%?! That would lift the price of my gas-guzzling heap to $59,965.71! I felt nervous about this, worrying about what sort of dealer extras they might be planning to stick me with, to arrive at a price like this. I wondered just how big of a horse cock they kept down at that dealership.

I decided to play hardball. We’ll see where that got me, in the next update.

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How Not to Buy a Car, Update #3: “In-Transit”

This hodge-podge series documents my efforts to buy a new car. It has unlimited updates. Who knows how long this shit is going to take? This is Update #3. To read the previous update, CLICK THIS LINK. For the next update, CLICK THIS LINK. To start at the beginning, CLICK THIS LINK. Thanks for reading!

“In-Transit”

Where or where does one find a new Chrysler Pacifica Limited? This was my next goal in my ill-advised quest to buy a new car.

I used Autotrader’s search engine, and finally found a Limited trim level at a dealership over a hundred miles away. It was a white, Chrysler Pacifica Limited, All-Wheel-Drive. It was fully loaded, with all the doohickeys and electronic gadgets nerdy dudes like me love. And in fact, there were four such vehicles ostensibly on their lot. My heart skipped a few beats.

Autotrader provides a way to send an email to a dealer, to inquire about vehicle availability. So I fired one off. And waited. For about three or four hours there was no reply. Finally, at risk of looking too eager, I went to the dealer’s website and made a new, direct inquiry. About a half-hour later, my phone rang.

I was told that there were no such cars on their lot. Rather, they were all “In-Transit.” Further inquiry revealed that “In-Transit” means they haven’t even been built yet. What a bunch of lying fucks there are in the car industry! They pervert terminology like “Factory Order,” “Options,” and “In-Transit.”

This is not necessarily what “In-Transit” means. Stupid me.

You’d think that “In-Transit” means the car is on a truck or train, heading for the dealership. But based upon my personal experience, here’s what I’ve concluded “In-Transit” actually means in car sales vernacular:

Chrysler allocates cars to dealers, before building them. This is the same system that Asian car manufacturers use. But in Chrysler’s case, they let the dealer know many months ahead, what cars have been allocated to them, including model and trim level. This gives the dealer a chance to advertise the car, as “In-Transit.”

After a customer is lured by the advertisement to the dealership, the customer may be told by the sales associate that the car is being built even as they speak. But that would be a lie. The car is not yet being built. Chrysler is awaiting the go-ahead from the dealership.

The customer is convinced to put down a $500 deposit, to reserve the car. Then the dealership informs Chrysler of the reservation, and asks that the car be built. Then, whenever Chrysler decides to get around to it, they build the car and ship it to the dealership.

In my case, the Pacifica I want has apparently been “In-Transit” since January. That shows how low the demand is for gas-guzzling Pacificas. I was told I’d have to put down a $500 refundable deposit, to reserve the Pacifica. Well, that was a breath of fresh air. Sure beat an illegal, $1,000 non-refundable deposit.

Dick Dastardly

I was told by the salesman, whom I’ll call Dick Dastardly, that the Pacifica was currently being built, but that it would take about a month to start building it. Huh?! Further inquiries over this contradiction in language failed to achieve clarity from slippery Dick.

But after I closed my eyes, held my nose, and plunked down the $500 deposit, I was given some paperwork that showed an estimated shipping date of late-September. This was in late-August. So since it only takes about 20 to 30 hours to construct a car on a modern-day assembly line, it stood to reason the car wouldn’t be built until late September.

By the way, I did this all over the phone. Hell, the dealership is over a hundred miles away, so I sure as heck wasn’t going to drive all the way down there, only to be bent over a counter and be royally ass-fucked. I prefer the convenience of having my sex over the phone.

I also learned, after the deal was struck, that the Pacifica is not an American-made car. No, it’s assembled by our friendly neighbors to the north, in Canada. But the factory is in Windsor, Canada, just a socket wrench’s throw across the Detroit River from the decaying, nearly-dead city of Detroit. So, close enough. I can drive my car while whistling, “O Canada,” and still imagine a giant Star-Spangled banner being burned by protesters in the distance.

Could buying a nice, new car in 2022 really be this easy? We’ll find out in my next update.

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