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How to pick a used car dealer

July 10, 2013
Fort Myers Beach Bulletin, Fort Myers Beach Observer

A man walks into the room and asks, "Why am I here?"

The person in the room replies that the answer is complicated. Some people believe we are here simply to reproduce, like all other life-forms. Others feel that a Supreme Being put us here to worship Him (or Her) until our death and then join Him (or Her) in foreverland. Some other people think that.

"No, wait. I mean I came in here to do something or get something and I can't remember what it was."

"Oh yeah, we all do crazy stuff like that. Go back out and do again what you were doing before, and it may come back to you."

If you identify with the previous scene, you're not really crazy, just forgetful. Now imagine you have walked into a room to meet a car salesman to buy a car. "What made you pick our dealership?," asks the salesman.

"Your pitchman yelled and screamed the loudest on your commercial," you reply.

Now you ARE crazy. You don't think it happens like that? Why does the most obnoxious, loudest, most over-bearing, over-talking screamer shouting about the hugr deal he has for you have such success getting you to buy his cars? Because you're crazy, that's why. Okay, it doesn't fit the definition of crazy exactly, more likely you're just gullible. Pitchmen know that the enemy of a sale is thoughtfulness. The two best ways around thoughtfulness are excitement and liquor. Boys learn this at an early age. Candy is dandy but liquor is quicker. TV advertisements can't get you liquored up, so they try to get you excited. If it works, you lose your inhibitions and run to them with money in hand. It works a lot. There is, however, another way to select a dealership.

There is some brand loyalty left in American consumers, but it's fading. There is also something we'll call a belief in brand consistency, which is stronger. This means that we believe a manufacturer will continue to make the same quality in cars that they have in the past. So if you had a Chevy and it performed well and lasted well, when you are ready for another car you will happily consider another Chevy, over the more unfamiliar brands. So where would you go to trade in your Chevy for a new one? The Chevy dealer, of course. Now suppose your Chevy had been a lemon. Wouldn't you more likely go to a Ford or Toyota dealer to trade it in on a different brand? Sure you would.

Now suppose you are shopping for a used car. Would you shop for a used Ford at the Chevy dealer? Take your time, now. There will be a test later.

Then there are the corner lot dealers. Some of their cars are trade-ins, the rest they get at the auctions. What are the auctions? When a new car dealership takes in a trade that they don't want to resell to their customers, because of high mileage or other flaws, they send it to the auction. When the independent dealers have a car they can't sell, usually because it has a flaw, they send it to the auction.

How do you pick a car from one of these lots? The answer is: Very carefully, and only if you're feeling lucky. They don't have to tell you about the flaws. It's usually "as is, where is".

Maybe I should scream, "ARE YOU FEELING LUCKY?" I hope that got your attention.



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