Carolyn J. Rose
There were many times when I viewed relationships with car dealers as falling somewhere between feigned friendship, tepidly adversarial, and locked in a duel to the death. Even if I was only accompanying a friend who was just looking around a lot, I had to psych myself up for the ordeal. I dreaded encounters with salespeople hungry to make a quota. I felt like an overfed guppy tossed into a tank swirling with sharks.
These days it seems car dealers are the guppies. And, while I don’t feel like a shark, I do feel like I’m holding a fresh container of fish food above the tank.
My car is a 2016 Toyota Rav4 with less than 35,000 miles on it. Due to pandemic workforce disruption, shortages, and supply chain issues, it’s become popular. It’s so popular it could run for political office. And win. It could be president. Or at least prom queen.
I get regular offers for amazing trade-in allowances, bonuses, and incredible deals on my next vehicle. But I’m not in the market for another vehicle.
If such offers had come in for that green Volkswagen Rabbit I owned in the 70s, I wouldn’t have dickered for a second. If dealers had wanted the Datsun F-10 or the Ford Escort this badly, I would have lunged at the deal without a moment’s hesitation. But it was a different market then. The offers, especially by today’s standards, were laughable. Still, I accepted them.
I haggled some over the aging Jeep Cherokee I inherited from my father 20 years ago and the Corolla I owned after that. They were solid vehicles in good shape and I knew their value. The deals I settled for were sound, but not as stratospheric as the one I might make these days.
Now, because my car is so popular, I can be picky. In fact, I can be as picky as a cat served cheap store-brand food. I can be as picky as a toddler selecting a story to delay bedtime, as picky as a bride seeking dresses that guarantee bridesmaids won’t upstage her. I can set a whole new level of picky. And I can enjoy the heck out of it.
And, despite my pickiness, car dealers will probably still get in line to “be my friend” and wrap their hands around the steering wheel of my car.
In the past, I’ve never put a price on friendship. But these are weird times. If the offers keep coming and the numbers keep rising . . . Well, who knows?