Sunday, July 22, 2007

Trials Of Buying A Car

Miky wanted a new car. Not a new new car. Just a much newer one than the one she had. Her preference was for a 2005 Toyota Corolla hatchback. We bought the paper, the Autotrader and the Quokka but didn't locate much of interest. Not in our price range anyway. Couple of other tacks to try - Carsales.com.au and Shoprite.

I'd used Shoprite before to buy my car in 2000. They searched for a car that met my specifications and did a great job. Their commission was taken from the selling price of the car and not added to afterwards. To gain membership either you had to be a union member (I'm not any longer) or a Friendlies Chemist member. It cost a total of $11 to get a Friendlies Chemist membership for the rest of the year.

Carsales.com.au had lots of 2005 Toyota Corolla hatchbacks on offer in our price range. I rang a telephone number, after hours, and left a message. The next day the car salesman, Greig, rang back and we had a few phone calls back and forth before getting hold of each other. I asked if they were part of a fleet buy and he said yes. Booked an appointment for the Wednesday night to view.

By this time the guy from Shoprite, Ken, had located a car at the upper limit of our price range, but it was a sedan. He tried to warn us off buying a hatchback, and when I mentioned our appointment that night he said that they had been purchased from Bayswater Car Rental and should be avoided, but we still wanted to view it.

We arrived at New Town Toyota. No-one came to greet us. It was a very cold evening. Nearly ten minutes past before someone came and gave us a very smarmy, "Can I help you?" Not being in a good mood I replied, "Only if your name is Greig." He then muttered that he would find him for us. Then he just walked back to the guys he had been talking to. More time went by and I headed up to this group of salesmen. Another, younger bloke boldly stepped forward and asked if he could help. I said that we hadn't had any service and he interrupted me with a, "But we've only just seen you." My response was "That gentleman (loosely used term accompanied by finger pointing) spoke to me five minutes ago and said that he would look for Greig for me." No comeback. After being told that Greig was probably buying himself something to eat I waited another five minutes and then he showed, having been called. Surely the first guy could have done that.

Greig was a young man, with smoker's breath, who hadn't been in the job for long. Miky hit him straight up. "Are these ex-rentals?" - yes. "Why are the cars right at the back $1000 cheaper?" - they had no stamp duty paid and were just to get people to the shop. I was staggered by the honesty. We took one car for a drive which was $2000 dearer than the cheapest one of the same age and mileage.

The car was ok, nothing special. But it certainly had come from Bayswater Car Rental. Ken had also warned us that these cars generally did 50000km without a proper service and just had the oil filter changed, if we were lucky. The vehicle we took for a test drive had a big chip out of the bonnet too which our salesman hadn't noticed. Didn't appear to know the car too well.

Rang Ken and said that we were coming to see his recommended vehicle. I had to meet Steve and Ken would pop by later. Drove to John Hughes in Vic Park. Asked for Steve and was speaking to him. He rang Ken and took us over to the car immediately. Young, fresh-faced, knowledgeable, friendly, courteous. He removed the painted price from the windscreen, moved another car out of the way and took us for a test drive. A couple of streets away we swapped so that I could drive. This sedan was a nice little car with a big boot and an MP3 player. Following our drive we were left alone to discuss this whilst Steve gathered some hot drinks for us. Ken dropped in and he and Steve appeared to bit very pally. I asked if Ken had worked for John Hughes and he said that he had about 34 years ago.

In no position to make a decision we decided to take some time to think about it. Steve mentioned on the way out that he'd spoken to the manager and, if it would help with making a decision tonight, they were prepared to knock a further $500 off the price. But only for tonight. I thanked him and said, "I'd rather have my second thoughts first." And with that we left.

There was no comparison. The sedan was in much better condition than the hatchback and appeared to be a much nicer car. I decided to think some more and visit City Toyota as they had some ex-demos on sale. We could pick up a 2006 model sedan for $2000 more. The salesman, a bit arrogant he was, wasn't prepared to talk a deal unless I was willing to put an offer on the car. So, I had to be willing to buy it before we could deal on the price. Not happy with that.

I was able to use the ex-demo model value as leverage to negotiate with John Hughes. I rang Ken and said that we would offer a further $500 below the special offer of the Wednesday night. He wasn't so sure but rang for us and made the offer. About five minutes later he rang back and said, "You must be a believer. I'm a believer but I didn't think that they would accept the offer. But they did. Congratulations."

We picked the car up the next Wednesday. Miky wasn't happy about not getting a hatchback. In fact, she was quite upset about it. We had seen a nice 2006 hatchback for sale but it was $5000 more than we wanted to pay. I told her that in two to three weeks she would have forgotten about her disappointment as her car was very nice.

It's been those two or three weeks and not one complaint has been forthcoming. I tell you, that $11 for Friendlies membership was well spent. There's no way I could have talked a car dealer down four or five thousand dollars on my own. Do your homework when buying a car people. And deal with a dealer, unless buying privately, that you feel comfortable with. And I heartily recommend Shoprite.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

Good deal!! You can always save a lot on anything with club memberships for anything even video games, clothes or anything!! It is best to do the work and save the money!!!Good luck!!! Annette

Anonymous said...

Those dumb L's complain, we never have enough money blah blah!! They rent thier cars ect.. They think they are above everyone else ha ha Not Annette They sure could use some common sense.

tmz_99 said...

congrats on the car.. I would never buy any ex-bayswater either.. :( I know how I've trashed those cars myself on occasion.. .

Friendlies is the go, the price of membership is insignificant to the $100s you save during the year (particularly if you're sick often like myself).

Anonymous said...

Oh Hammy Rita said go to Killer Freebies.com and they have a sight for free stuff in Australia. It is on the left hand side to save you more money. You can get all kinds of free samples and ect... Have a great week. Enjoy your cool new car LUCKY!!!We are happy for you and your beautiful wife plus family! Jill If you see those L's again ignore them. They are just like that you know.

Hammy said...

I may take you up on that suggestion.

Anonymous said...

Good luck, it should save you a great deal of money with free samples that you can try before you buy. Hopefully you have good luck every day. Those L's are involved with very bad stuff so, if you see them again never give in to thier nonsense. Please don't allow them to drive you to drink,smoke or do drugs ect.. They simply are not worth it. Thier is other good information there too. Have a great week. Rita