Never buy a new car from Tony Soprano

Have I ever mentioned how much I despise shopping for a new vehicle? In case I haven’t, let me explain. I despise shopping for a new vehicle.

I get angry. My blood pressure surges. My language goes to the gutter.

A few weeks back someone (probably a telemarketer hired by the car company) called to inform me that a local dealership was sorely in need of clean, used SUVs exactly like the one my wife drives and would be offering “top dollar” for trade-ins on new vehicles.

Never one to look a gift horse in the face and always one to assume the best about people (I’m learning.), I set up an appointment for a Saturday afternoon evaluation of our car and a test drive of a new one.

As soon as we walked into the dealership, the promises began to float away just as surely as the hundreds of balloons tethered to every chair in the place did as soon as a child untied them. The ceiling was a riot of color from loose balloons. The floor was a riot of disappointed children wailing for lost balloons.

First, the salesperson with whom I had an appointment and who had made certain that I set an exact time to come in was not available. I was shifted to a newbie who stumbled around trying to explain the wonders of the latest model SUV.

I had also been assured that as soon as I walked in the door a test drive vehicle would be awaiting our inspection and on-the-road evaluation. Didn’t happen.

The assurance that I could drop our vehicle off, get a trade-in value and be out in 20 minutes also didn’t materialize. Two hours passed, during which time I answered the same credit, work history and personal hygiene questions three times. First we provided the information to the newbie on whom we had been foisted. When she shuffled us back to the person with whom I had initially set up an appointment, he took the same information. The manager later required his own personal set of Smith family history. Don’t these people communicate?

We surrendered our SUV keys to the newbie who ran off with them, apparently to give to someone who could assess the value of our vehicle. In retrospect, I should have taken the extra set with me.

We test drove a vehicle, liked it okay and sat down with the salesperson I was supposed to have seen at the outset. He said we were “upside down” in our car. Top dollar apparently means something different to those selling cars than to those trading them in.

But they could still make us a deal. I informed this gentleman that the only reason we came in was under the assumption (wrong one) that perhaps we could save money since our car was suddenly worth top dollar.

The manager, the only person in the building wearing a suit and the only one possibly related to Tony Soprano, slithered over to inform us that he knew we would soon be buying a car. He did this twice. I told the salesman not to involve the manager in the discussion.

We determined, despite numerous pleas, promises and solicitations for at least a minimal down payment, that our best economic interests would be served by keeping the vehicle we had, since it was still reliable and we like it. The salesman went to the manager, who slithered over again, sat down, began touching my arm as if he were my best buddy and began to spout figures, percentages and accolades about how professional his staff was.

I was ready to leave, but alas, they had my car keys. They kept pushing. I grew angrier by the minute. They ignored my wife, a really bad idea, until I got up, looked at the sleazy manager and demanded that he return my keys and that I was leaving, and not only would I not buy a car from them that day, but I never would.

He then turned to my wife who smiled at him and said: “He said we’re leaving.” We did.

So imagine my joy when a few days later someone (probably another telemarketer) called to see how my car shopping experience had been. I told her.

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