Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Tell them what we've got, Johnny!.....

...It's a BRAND NEW CAR!

Ok, so brand new may be a stretch, but it is a new car to me. I did it. I took the plunge. I went car shopping with my dad on Saturday, December 27th and had no intention of actually buying one, but the steering is starting to feel a bit wonky on my old one, so I thought maybe it was time to at least go look. I think I smelled desperation wafting over from the car dealer as we drove through the lot. He was practically salivating at the fact that there was actually one potential customer on the lot on the Saturday after Christmas. Needless to say, I was the only one there. Later on in the day, he actually had the kahones to say that, despite what the media was saying, their business was doing really well. (Insert crickets chirping here) Sure, mister! That's why you all are condensing your business from 3 lots down to 2. It's because business is really booming! Please.


Anyway, I was fairly proud of my negotiating skills. When I bought my first car 8 years ago, I didn't do any of the negotiating. I basically let my brother and dad do all the talking and when they were finished, I asked how much I owed and where to sign. This time I had done some research (thank you, Consumer Reports) and felt better educated about what cars were out there that were well made and would fit into my price range. Besides, I didn't HAVE to buy a car and I'm pretty sure he REALLY wanted to sell one.


It was interesting to see my dad's reaction when we were talking (just the two of us away from the sales people) and I said I would consider paying $X. He said, "With tax and everything?!?!" I said, "yep!"


It's a unique experience to see these sorts of negotiations from the stand-point of another generation. My parents are children of people who came of age during the Depression. My dad was laid off for much of the 80's due to poor economic times. My parents have, until recently, both worked at least 2 jobs EACH. They are the kind of people that aren't going to rock the boat. When I recently told my mom that, after doing some research, I felt like I was underpaid and that I had asked for a raise, I think she was simultaneously shocked and unnerved. I've been telling her for years that she is underpaid and that her company should show that they know her value by giving her more money. She simply shrugs it off and says things like, "In this economy, I'm just happy to have a job." In this economy I'm thrilled to have a job as well, but that doesn't mean that my skills are any less valuable.


I think for my dad, these negotiations brought him that same unnerved feeling. I think he thought I was crazy basically asking for the moon. I figure, I'm gonna start with the moon, if I only get the top of Mt. Everest, that's still pretty good. After all, as I said, I didn't HAVE to buy a car.


So, I negogiated and got pretty close to what I told him I would consider (with a few perks thrown in) and when we were all done, he said, "I think you got a really good deal." While I was seeking his approval in my decision, it was nice to know I had it.


Even though I didn't expect to actually get it crossed off the list before next July, every time I fire up that remote start and hop into a warm car on a cold Indiana morning, I'm thrilled to have a new car.


.....If anyone's interested, I have a car payment due January 26th. I haven't had one in over 5 years and I'm not enjoying the prospect of having one for the next 4 years. Ugh.

1 comment:

Jill said...

Bravo on your negotiating skills! These stories encourage me to not cheap/wimp out and make a deal that won't benefit me the most.

It's funny how we're kind of taught growing up to just lie down and take things. I don't know if it's reaction from the Depression, being a Midwesterner, or being a woman, but I've experienced the same "don't rock the boat and take whatever they give you" upbringing.

When I got a full-time job out of grad school, it was at a place I'd been temping at for several months. I wasn't guaranteed a job there, so I was looking elsewhere. My boss and I had a conversation, and she told me I should be able to get at least $x. The firm came through with a job offer, but the money was less. I expressed disappointment that it was so low. They asked why, and I blurted out that the boss said I should be making $x. They had to give it to me. Maybe not the best way to negotiate, but I learned that companies will try to low-ball regular employees. A lot.

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