I don't feel bad for the Car Salesman, I don't feel bad at all. This was his choice and now he must stick with it. I didn't ask him to come with us on the test drive. I didn't ask for him to try and attempt mindless chatter while my wife and I discuss the pros and cons of this particular car. I didn't ask him to entertain the kids but he is soon learning that my kids will not be ignored, Dan.
The minivan we are currently test driving is our fourth of the day. Hossmom and I believe in good research before we make a final decision so we are driving everything. Also, Hossmom loves to test drive, taking it as a chance to live the life of someone else because there is no way I'm getting a car seat in the 350Z that she has her eye on. Although that Mustang looks doable, at least to me. How old do kids have to be before they can ride in the front seat?
Car Salesmen are a particular breed of men. They need to be able to tell you a perfect combination of truth and bullshit, often in the same breath. It can be nerve racking to deal with as a consumer. However, years ago, back when I was working, Hossmom made a suggestion for me. "Treat them like a perp" she told me. Suddenly, things clicked for me. I would treat the car salesman like he just beat up his grandma. This, it turns out, is the perfect approach to a car salesman.
I'll ask questions during the showroom talks that I know will get a bullshit response. What I'm really doing is testing his honesty, give me the good and the bad. Chances are, I already know the answer to what I am asking, I just want to see how you will respond. I used to do this to perpetrators all the time and then turn the answers back on them so that they could see the bullshit. Makes for some very uncomfortable situations. I once had a guy tell me that his crack, needle and cooking station was insulin for diabetes. I picked up his spoon that he cooked with and couldn't help but laughing. My partner and I gave him credit for being original.
So when I ask about the reliability of the car, maintenance and what not, I probably have already discovered this online. My personal favorites of the day:
1: Oh it's great, great. Best in the class (it was the worst). We own the minivan market.
I thought this was pretty good bullshit, especially when I pointed out two of his high-end competitors that actually do better. He quickly changed his answer to mean "Of American-made cars, I mean." Sure you do. Here's your spoon. Chances are I won't do business with this guy.
2. Our van ranks #1 with children. Yup, they love this minivan more than any other.
Really? There was a study that asked 6 year olds which minivan they liked best? Was it a focus group kind of thing? Did you put toys in there and little child sized questionnaires? Draw a smiley face if you like this van, a frowny face if you don't.
But again, I will give them both credit for the original.
This current guy though seems to be doing pretty well though in the bullshit department. I think it comes from knowing that he is selling one of the best and can rely on it's good reputation when answering questions. Sure, gas mileage could be better but it does compare well to competitors and the reliability question is easy for him. Things were going well for this guy until the test drive.
All of the other salesman quickly bowed out of joining any of us for the test drive when we dug out the car seats and installed them for the test drive. They realized that they would have to climb between them to the third row seat and then holler from the back to be heard. Smart move. I thought that this is how this one would go.
We got the keys and loaded in, started the car and prepared to depart. The salesman, doing his job, popped the back and actually climbed over the third rear seat to get in. I wasn't sure what to do at that point so I reminded him to buckle his seat belt because we don't move until everyone buckles their seat belt, family rule. And at this point, he is pretty much a part of the family. He's like that weird distant relative that you wish you could ditch but can't because your aunt will tell your mother and then you are going to get into trouble. So you tell him not to eat his boogers and just be quiet.
This wasn't his mistake though. He thought he was going to answer questions for us, point out features. Mr. Car Salesman, meet my children. They will run interference for me for the next 15 minutes.
He points out the engine on the car, noting the liters that it has. He is talking Greek to us. Hossmom and I are not engine people, we have no idea what this means, We'll discover it's power when I jump on the highway and floor it.
This is also the only piece of information that he will be able to tell us for the next 15 minutes.
Little Hoss starts immediately and is relentless.
"I like pink! We want a pink car!" God I love her so much sometimes.
He doesn't know what to say to this but it doesn't matter, he gets the first word out before she starts with her second statement.
"Where do colors come from? How do they make colors?"
The great nonsense question. There will be many more. He will say a factory where they blend different colors but then she will hit him with "How do they make factories?" and it will just get better from there. And it does. He is inexperienced with kids. He should have just said "magic" and moved on.
Hossmom and I are comparing notes on how well the van corners when my son joins the conversation.
"Toilet Underpants!" he screams. He needs no introduction. His sister and him tell "jokes" and this is always his punchline. He doesn't even bother telling the lead up to it anymore, he just screams the punchline. I look at the guy in the conveniently located conversation mirror, a nice feature, and can tell that the guy has no idea what to do with this one. I start laughing and so does Hossmom. This is more enjoyable than the actual test drive.
The car salesman gets a look of confusion on his face and is trying to decide what to say. I could bail him out but I don't, because after all, he's a perp.
"Where's the movie? Turn on the movie!" Little Hoss says. Most of the vans we have driven today have had DVD players installed, this one doesn't and now he is paying the price with my daughter.
"Well, we have some that have the DVD player and it really isn't much more..............."
"expensive than this one. In fact we could....................."
"How do they make movies?"
I'm almost crying at this point. I'm sure that this guy is going to be having nightmares about this one but I would bet dollars to donuts that he doesn't go on a test drive with children again.
This is the routine for the rest of the test drive while Hossmom and I sat in the front seat and compared notes on what we thought of the van. When we got back, I felt a little bit of pity for this guy. It was brutal but entertaining. I felt so bad that I actually opened the back hatch of the van so he could climb out again. I'm surprised he didn't run away screaming and I respected him for standing his ground. I noticed the sweat stains on his shirt even though it was 40 degrees outside. It would appear that my children did a proper job of grilling the perp.