Car Buying — It Is What It Is

Beth’s Honda Del Sol was in sad shape — missing a headlight, a door that was almost impossible to unlock and open, no brakes, a leaky roof — so with the advent of her new job, she decided to buy a new car. Last Monday, she stopped at CarMax and found what she was looking for — a Mitsubishi Eclipse. They were also willing to give her $2,000 for her old car. (You gotta love Hondas.) She asked me to co-sign, and I said I would.

Every time she called CarMax to make arrangements, she ended up talking with a different guy. It got very confusing, so when she found another Eclipse in Kenosha, she decided it was simpler to drive up there on Tuesday and take a look at it than try to get it down here. She decided to buy that one instead. CarMax was supposed to ship it down to Schaumburg.

The appointment to buy her car was at 5:00 this afternoon. At 2:30, Gerry from CarMax called and asked if she was still coming in. When she said she was, he informed her that he would have to go to Kenosha and drive the car back. I followed her over to the dealer after work. We arrived around 4:45. Gerry was waiting for us and ushered us into his office. This was good, I thought, we’ll get this over with and be out of here.

Not so fast. First there was the issue of the title on the Del Sol. Illinois won’t let you co-own a car with the terminology “Roger or Sally.” It has to be “Roger and Sally,” which meant that Sally had to sign the title. But Sally was in Cary, and it was snowing and blowing and traffic was horrible and I wasn’t about to ask her to drive the 20 miles in just to sign her name and drive 20 miles back. We sat around in Gerry’s office for a while trying to decide what to do. He kept leaving, then returning, then leaving, then returning.

Then Beth had to talk with the insurance company. She’d made arrangements with Bob, but Bob went on vacation yesterday. So she talked with Marla and got everything taken care of.

Then Gerry asked for Beth’s last pay stub. He left again. Then he came back. The information he needed was partially cut off on the bottom of the stub. Did she have another check? No, she just started her new job. Well, that wouldn’t work — we’d have to get our loan from another bank that didn’t need proof of employment, and pay $6 more a month for the service. OK. Whatever.

Did Beth have the keys to the Del Sol? Yes. Gerry took them and left. Ten minutes later he returned. He couldn’t unlock the car. Beth explained that she’d left the car unlocked. He disagreed. He said he’d tried both doors. Beth said she knew she’d left it unlocked, but she’d go out with him. She grabbed the handle and pulled. The door opened. She came back inside.

Five minutes later, Gerry was back. How do you get the key out of the ignition? You push while you turn? OK, he’d be right back.

He finally returned. Sally needed to sign the title. Would she be home? Yes. OK. He’d follow us home and have her sign it there. I said that was nice, but that we could come in on Saturday. No, that wouldn’t work. He was busy on Saturday. He left. Then he came back. We’re running the papers. It takes 20 minutes. Then he left.

Fifteen minutes later, he came back and said they’d just started printing the papers, and it would just be 10 or 15 minutes. He pointed to the screen on his computer to back up what he was saying. The screen said that there were 17.9 minutes remaining. He left.

I wandered around the showroom and bought a bag of peanuts. Gerry came back and ushered us to another office and introduced us to Pat. Pat was a nice lady who didn’t leave us even once. She ran through all the papers and had us sign about 50 of them.

At 7:10 or so, Beth finally saw her car.

Then Pat came out and had her sign one more paper. I waited in my car. It took us 47 minutes (Gerry timed it) to get to our house from CarMax. Sally signed the title. Gerry left. It was almost 8:30.

Beth is happy with her car — the lights work and the door opens and the roof doesn’t leak and the brakes brake. She drove off to show it to friends.

But I’ve been thinking — if that was car buying the way it should be, I don’t ever want to buy a car the way it shouldn’t be.

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One Response to Car Buying — It Is What It Is

  1. Linda says:

    That’s funny.
    Because when Ken and I went to pick up our car – we had the same experience (without a co-signer and without a NEW job). We were there four hours – which included a discussion about salvation. We could not figure out why it took so long.

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