I believe I mentioned that my truck died. The cost to repair it would have been more than I what I would pay for a new truck. I wasn’t sure I even wanted to replace the truck, but it was Laura who talked me into it, saying that she liked having a third vehicle available. It just had to be a small one she could drive to get gardening stuff. So, we set a budget for that amount and decided to see what we could get.
I had already test-driven a couple of trucks and had some candidates in mind. I had looked through the papers, and I had checked several online websites. Having done my research, I felt like I had a fairly good grasp of the market for small pickups, so on Saturday I set out to see what was really available. I did get a truck, but I’ll save that for last
Used car dealers run the gamut, from cliched plaid jacket wearing caricatures to some decent folks just trying to make a living selling cars. I think I ran into just about all of them. I stopped at one place where the salesman puffed a cigarette the entire time. He apologized, saying that the only time they are allowed to smoke was when they were out on the lot with customers. What??? I left.
I stopped at several little lots along Poinsett Highway. On close inspection, the little trucks on their lots led rough lives. It was a good thing that no one came out to answer questions or let me take a test drive. Eventually I made my way to Toyota of Greer. This is where things really took a turn for the bizarre.
You can’t just drive through or walk around Toyota of Greer’s lot. You have to park in customer parking (which was too limited for the number of customers that day) then walk through their sales room so you can get tagged by a sales rep. I walked through, but no one offered assistance, so I headed on out to the lot.
I’d seen two trucks within my price range on their newspaper add, so I set out to find those. Sure enough, those trucks were no where to be seen, and I began to suspect bait-and switch. I felt sure that they would have been conveniently sold. I did find a nice Ford Ranger and thought I would inquire. Eventually a sales rep did come out, and I asked him about the trucks in the add. He confirmed my suspicions – they were not available. I told him my price range and asked about the Ranger, specifically the price. He trotted off to get a key and supposedly to get a price. He came back with a key, but not a price. He only said that, “We can make you a deal similar to what you saw on those other trucks.” That should have been enough to make me walk away, but I decided to test drive the truck anyway.
It was a good truck. It wasn’t perfect, but it would fit the bill. So when we got back I followed the salesman back to his cubicle to get more info. Again I asked about price. Instead he wanted me to fill out paperwork to get a quote. I hesitated, but complied. He trotted off to his sales manager while I waited, and waited, and waited. Eventually he came back beaming, saying that I had received an incredibly good deal. The price he showed me was double what I was willing to pay. He trotted away again.
I decided I’d had enough and started to walk out. He intercepted me and said they had a new deal. It still didn’t fit my budget though. He wanted me to stay and see if they could make deals on any of the other trucks (which were later models and in much better shape than the one I drove.) I knew that wouldn’t happen so I thanked him for wasting my time and left. I did learn a lesson, though. If someone can’t or isn’t willing to give me a price on a car right away, even if it’s negotiable, I’m leaving.
With most of the afternoon gone I headed straight to Taylor Auto Sales in Lyman where I had driven a nice little Nissan Frontier earlier in the week. I took it as a good sign that it still looked better than any of the other trucks I had seen this week. It drove very well, and the salesman was willing to meet our budget. I felt weird making a decision on a vehicle that Laura hadn’t seen. I sent a photo over the phone, and she said she trusted my judgment. So, I bought it. I did what I set out to do – for not much more than the repairs would have been on my old truck, I get a little later model truck in better shape that would work fine for gardening and hauling kayaks.