I tried. I really tried. When I want to make a purchase, large or small, I make my best efforts to “buy local." First of all, from a selfish viewpoint, gas prices being what they are, I prefer to drive three miles rather than thirty. Secondly, either way, it is better for the environment. Finally, well, I live here and I want to benefit local businesses who have suffered through one of the worst winters in a long time.
But lately, I’ve been doing a lot of driving. And maybe it is because some local businesses are intent on driving me away.
Take my latest adventure into purchasing a car. It never occurred to me to look outside of Riverhead. I set out one morning to visit three different auto dealers. I don’t take too long to make a decision, so I left home, checkbook in hand and intent on coming back with a deal.
Two of the dealers treated me like I was intruding upon their busy days. I thought maybe they were judging the way I looked, the way I dressed or the fact that I was a woman alone. Let’s face it, even nowadays, men are seen as more likely to make the decision to buy a car. I left those two dealers and visited the third, where at least I was met by a friendly, female salesperson.
After taking a test drive and looking at a few cars, I asked the dealer to make me an offer for my trade-in. A male manager came out, was very friendly, and made a real low ball offer. Having spent all my career in sales, I absolutely hate negotiating, but having spent most of my career in sales, I also know when to walk away.
I told the salesperson that the trade-in offer was quite low, and she reminded me that we could always go back and talk to the manager. We agreed that I would go home and think about it, and call her in two days, as the next day was her day off. While I was not looking for a new car, this was to be a fairly important purchase, and I wanted one day to think about it.
As promised, I went back in two days and made an offer. I made an offer and walked away, telling the salesperson that she could reach me on the phone at any time. Within ten minutes, she countered with a price higher than their original price, stating that there had been and additional charge they had failed to mention, despite the fact that I had asked about other costs.
I don’t get angry these days. Not worth it. It was a Friday and I decided to go back home and search the internet for other deals. Thanked the salesperson, and hung up. No deal.
On Monday, I actually felt bad and thought I had misunderstood. I loved the car, and still wanted to buy local. I called the dealership, and left a message with the manager, explaining that I was a bit confused about the price, and that I would appreciate a call back. I’m not sure what happened, but I never received that call back.
In the meantime, I had contacted a dealer in St. James, who was very thorough on the phone, explaining all the inventory they had, sending me photos, and clarifying a few points. I drove to St. James on Tuesday afternoon — about 70 miles round-trip. Saw the car I wanted. Made a fair offer, was given a fair counter offer. Asked questions and received explanations and was treated with respect. The salesman led me away from spending more money for unnecessary extras, explained all costs and gave me a final price.
On Wednesday, I took another 70 mile trip to pick up my new car.
So much for local.