New Car Shopping Print
Written by Steven Estrada   
Sunday, 15 November 2009

Being a FORD LOVER, and living a few miles from Don Reid Ford in Maitland, every time I go new car shopping, I visit them. They got a habit of pretending like they wouldn't care less if they sell a car or not, and act like they're doing me a favor by arranging financing. If that wasn't enough to change my mind about buying a new car from them this time, the sales worksheet was. It had so many profit-inflating,  BOGUS FEES tacked on, I needed my calculator to add them up. When I brought up an issue with their math, the sales manager got angry. I'm happy to pay $20K for a $20K car,and give the local dealer a nice profit - but won't tolerate being talked down to by snotty, arrogant sales managers.  Haven't these people learned to make friends with customers about to give $20K to a perfect stranger? I walked out annoyed. As usual.

Mullinax Ford in Apopka had a non-negotiable, take-it-or-leave-it price displayed on every car - and a good, competitive price on the FOCUS I was looking at, but their offer for financing was very non-competitive. When I went back for a second look, they gave me a much better offer for financing, but that same non-negotiable, take-it-or-leave-it sticker price for the car was $500 more than yesterday's sticker. So I left.

The Courtesy dealers Toyota, Chevy, etc, were horrible. All of them. They're real old school with upsells for fake Scotch Guard and other junk, left me waiting so long I almost fell asleep, tried to push hefty dealer markup fees, and treated me like a complete idiot.  I just missed smashing the 2010 Corolla  cause it's brakes were so mushy, they almost didn't work. The salesman said that's it's anti-lock feature. Anti-stop is more like it. The saleslady at Chevy insisted the cheap inflation kit that substitutes for a spare is just as good as a real tire. Try telling that to someone with a punctured sidewall.

Over at Greenway Ford, I showed the salesman my best price, and asked him to beat it.  He comes up $2K over.  I guess he didn't understand the first time, so I explained again.  He came back $1K over.  I walked out.

Kia had a nice ad in The Orlando Sentinel - $5K for any trade in. If you think that's hard to believe - you're right.  I finally told the saleslady to forget the trade in.  Those people seemed weird after a salesman from Egypt joined the saleslady, and both took a test drive with me.  "What's the problem?" I wondered to myself. Was the saleslady afraid of being raped? I clutched my checkbook with both hands fearing it would be raped. And left.

Honda - you'll never see me in a Honda showroom - not after buying that brand new 1990 Accord 19 years ago that broke 14 times in the nine agonizing months I owned it.  I don't care what Consumer Reports says. You couldn't give me a Honda.

Dismayed and worn out from the local dealers, I called the credit union and a bunch of banks, settled for a preapproved loan from Bank Of America, then went on the internet and filled out a form with the car and options I decided on. Multiple dealers from all over the country answered the email. Some replied  by asking for tons of unrelated personal info only a fool would give, rather than answering my questions about a new car. I didn't bother with them.  Others tried to lure me into visiting their showroom. I emailed those folks back saying "I don't need to come in for a test drive," and asked, "Will you sell me this car, with these options, at this price?"  

Arsene at Greenway Ford on Colonial (one of the local dealers I already visited), called instead of answering the email, found a car with the specs I asked for, and emailed me the sticker.   He didn't just meet my price.  He exceeded my expectations.   When I drove over to pick the car up - I was surprised to see it with nice pretty pinstripes I didn't ask for, the kind you pay over $100 for.   I said "What are you gonna do, pull a bait and switch on me?"  Nope. The pinstripes come with the car. Then - holding my Bank Of America preapproved loan - went to pay.   The finance guy offered a better rate from another bank than the one I walked in with. Of course I took it.

Then drove away happy with a nice, new, built in America Ford Focus, waving good by to my new friends at Greenway Ford.

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