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So Much for Buying Local

I need more than one good reason to buy local, and it is not just about price. I am willing to pay a bit more, but I want to be treated with respect — and given a fair price.

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.

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Maggie May 31, 2011 at 02:33 PM
I had cash to buy a Mercedes at the Riverhead Nissan. I walked in after my job,which was working with children outside so I was in casual dress. We test drove the car,but the salesperson lied to me about it's previous owner, as I had done a VIN search prior to going there. The car was from Huntington and he told me it was from Southampton. Then, when we went back in, I noticed a thank you note from an acquaintance at his desk. He proceeded to tell me how she didn't have much money, but he made it possible for her to buy a car. I had no idea my friend was having financial problems, but thought that was something I shouldn't hear from him. When I wouldn't put a down payment on the car, as I now began to really dislike him, he got outraged and told me I had wasted his time. Then he said,"Listen, lady, the next time you go out looking for a Mercedes, wear better clothes". I walked out, and I did report him to his supervisor, but I understand he is still there. So, I did go over to Southampton, bought my Mercedes for cash, and have never been so happy to do business with such a fine establishment. Their service dept is EXCELLENT as well. Be sure to ask for Sal as a salesperson. He's great
Liliana Nealon May 31, 2011 at 11:24 PM
Thanks for all the feedback. And yes, I probably would have been happy to do business in the "closer in" North Fork. But, when you come into Riverhead, there is a sign that says: "welcome to the North Fork". I do believe I was judged by the way I was dressed as well. As they say, never judge a book by its cover! And, thanks for the good links, Scott!
tony spiridakis June 01, 2011 at 10:17 PM
mullen motors have extremely good people in the sales department. i helped my parents negotiate a new car purchase there not too long ago, and they felt they'd gotten the best deal possible. and if you want to service you car, now that you've made the purchase, there is no better place on the planet... (at least in my experience) than mullen.
Joanna Lane June 02, 2011 at 05:47 PM
Another shout out for Mullen Motors in Southold. Buying locally needs a little patience, or more haste can result in less speed. Local dealers don't carry huge inventories. Our search started with Mullens, but they didn't have it, so we went to Riverhead only to be greeted by surly salesmen in a take it or leave it fashion, overall a very poor experience. Southold Automotive had recommended that we have them take a fast look at any we found there. This proved invaluable advice when one we decided to buy went up on the ramp, only to reveal lots of shiny parts underneath and filler. Although the dealership showed a clean title, obviously it had a major hit, that was not obvious without putting it up on a ramp. The dealership denied the car had been hit, and made us feel we were trying to reduce the price because we couldn't afford it. The unpleasantness that now colors our view of some of the Riverhead dealerships could have been avoided if we had exercised a little more patience with Mullens, which then had more cars come in, one of which was perfect. If you don't have the luxury of a week or so for the right car to present itself, then of course you need to go further afield, but I would definitely be driving straight past Riverhead on any search. This is our experience, your milage may vary.
Mark Kreider December 28, 2011 at 12:10 PM
We bought a new Jeep from Mullen Motors in 2000 and we have been so totally happy with the attention given us, the quality of service and with the charges for service rendered. There's a reason for the 5 stars they earn every year. We recently needed to decide whether or not to buy a used Taurus from a friend who had to move back to the city permanently. On Bill Mullen's advice I took it to Lucas Ford and asked what repairs were needed to bring the vehicle up to snuff. Service Advisor Lillian Guzzello Immediately took the time to look at my list of items. She efficiently produced what turned out to be accurate parts and labor expenses knowing that I might not get the car and never come back. She never made me feel that I was wasting her time. There were a few extra items that needed attention. Lillian called me to explain each additional repair, it's cost and the time the repair would require. I'm grateful to have found such kind, professional service at another one of Southold's fine dealerships, Lucas Ford.

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