From our friend Richard Cash, a story about “buying a car”;
Dear Uncle Sam,I think you know we had an accident not too long ago that totaled our car. The insurance company gave us a rental car to use, and on the last day of the rental contract, the settlement check came through, so we went to buy a car.
The reason that I’m writing is that I had the strangest experience of my life trying to buy a car. You probably won’t believe what I’m about to tell you, but I figured I would write anyway. It’s very interesting, and who knows, you might even get a laugh out of it.
The wife and I went to a place called “Barry’s Used Cars.” There was a nice car out front, and I admit, it was kind of love at first sight. We knew we had to have this car, so we pulled in, and that’s where it all began.
It was about 2 pm when we got there, so we knew we had plenty of time to make a deal. After a few minutes we kind of looked around, expecting someone to greet us and start the process. It took a lot longer than it should have, but eventually a weathered old salesman named Harry came over.
We explained that we needed to make a deal that day and Harry said, “Great. I’m all about deal making.” When we asked the price, he hemmed and hawed a bit. Instead of giving us an answer, we all went for a test drive.
When we got back, we asked the price again. This time Harry didn’t flinch, but the number he gave was sky high. I told him I liked the car and gave him my own number, but we were far apart.
After a while, it became clear that we weren’t getting anywhere, so Harry said he would have to let Joe take over the negotiations. Joe was the VP of the operation, and a very friendly, back slapping kind of guy. By now it was 3 pm, and we figured the preliminaries were over, and Joe would close the deal.
But we didn’t get any further with him than we did with Harry. Whenever we tried to nail him down, he just smiled and told us how much the big boss wanted to make a deal. We talked and talked, and after a while it occurred to me that Joe wasn’t going to cut the deal either, he was just trying to wear us down.
However, Joe was real insistent that Barry wanted a deal that day, same as us. He kept going back and forth between Barry and us, but nothing was really getting done. Eventually, Joe said Barry was going to take over the negotiations and deal with us personally.
So Joe showed us to Barry’s office, and that’s where the fun really began. On first impression, Barry seemed like a real nice guy. He had a nice smile and a very earnest, sincere demeanor. He welcomed us into what he called his “private deal room” and said, “Let’s talk. I just love talking and negotiating.”
It was 4 pm by this time, and the place closed at 5, so I knew we had to make a deal pretty quick in order to get all the paperwork done. Silly me, I asked him, “What’s the bottom dollar on your car?” He smiled and said, “Boy, that is a great question. How much do you want to pay?”
By now I was getting frustrated, so I said kind of bluntly, “Well, you’re the President of this place, so you tell me, what’s the sale price, how much down, and how much a month?” He talked for a few minutes about how nice the car was and how much he wanted to make a deal with me, and then he asked again, “How much are you willing to give for it?”
I couldn’t believe we were doing this backwards, but we really needed the car that day, so I wrote down my terms on a piece of paper and passed it to him. He glanced at it, set it to the side, and said with a smile, “You know, if we’re going to make a deal, you’re gonna have to eat your peas.”
I know, I know, you’re thinking, “What the heck?” Well, I didn’t know what he was talking about either, but before I could ask him, he says, “I’m going to have to kind of veto this offer, can you make another one?”
I kind of shook my head and said, “Well Barry, first of all, we’re doing this backwards. You should be the one laying out the specific terms here, and then I give you a counter offer if I don’t like it. But anyway, since you don’t like my offer, why don’t you write down your terms, and we’ll go from there.”
Barry crossed his hands in front of him, leaned forward, and got that earnest look again. He says, “Let me be perfectly clear. I must sell this car by 5 pm. Now what is your next offer?”
This was beginning to get a bit surreal. “No, what’s your offer?” I said.
This time Barry leaned back, looked at the ceiling, and said, “I don’t like millionaires, billionaires, and corporate jet owners. If you fall into any of those categories, you’re going to have to pay more.”
Well, it’s now 4:45 pm. I looked at Barry and said, “You beat all, you know that. We’re trying to make a deal and you’re talking in circles.”
The smile disappeared and Barry said, “Ok, here’s the deal. It’s almost 5 pm, you don’t have time to go anywhere else. You need to sweeten your offer right now so that you have time to call your bank and arrange financing. I know all about the rental car, and if you don’t make a deal today, you will owe fees and fines on it, and it might even affect your credit rating. So what’s it going to be?”
I thought for a moment, then said, “Barry, you are either a thug or you don’t know anything about making a deal. In either case, you are not going to strong arm me over a 5 pm crisis deadline that you have created, nor over my credit rating. I have given you a reasonable, written offer, something that you have refused to do. It’s no wonder this car has been sitting on your lot all year. Nobody can deal with you. Call me when you come to your senses.”