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Archive for December, 2014

Our new-to-us mini van

December 19th, 2014 at 07:04 am

We bought a new-to-us mini van this week - a 2012 Chrysler Town & Country. Before we did that I paid of my CC in full.

To start the story at the beginning, a week ago we had a list of about a dozen and a half local T&C's, and two dealers set themselves apart as having the best deals. The first was in local town A, about 30 miles to the south east of us, and the second was at local town B, about 25 miles to the west of us.

I was in local town A last Friday AM for work, and was able to take the afternoon off. DW joined me in the town for lunch, then we stopped by the dealership. There were three T&C's that drew our attention. One of them was a model year older, and was near the top of the number of miles we were interested in. Of the other two, both 2012's, one had a pinch more miles, but was $600 more expensive. Turns out it had heated seats, and we assume that's the reason it was more expensive. So, we sat down with the sales person to strike a deal. We made an offer, and she presented it to her manager. The woman we were working with was OK as far as used car sales people go, but she told us it was just her third week on the job, so she had to run everything through her manager. Our offer was low-ball, but you have to start somewhere, right?

Her manager was your classic over aggressive, slimy, talking through both sides of his mouth sales person types. He was thoroughly offended by our offer, and proceeded to show us vehicles "more in our budget range". No, we know which van we are interested in, let's strike a deal on that one. We told him (truthfully) that there was another dealer we needed to visit first, and (truthfully) that we couldn't make a deal until at least Monday next week, because it wouldn't be until then that our credit union would have our financing ready. We walked out with a purchase agreement with the dollar value that they had quoted.

We drove to local town B to look at the next van (this was a GM dealer that only had one T&C). The van at this dealership had quite a few more miles, and was priced accordingly. We were able to talk that dealer down a bit, but we found out through Car Fax that this vehicle had started out as a fleet rental, which right or wrong made me uncomfortable. Also, we felt that the price of this van was still more than the van in town A, even after our negotiated price in town B when adjusted for mileage. After looking at all the local vans, we came to the conclusion that slimy dealer in town A had the van priced right.

We weren't able to go back to the dealership in town A until Tuesday. Guess what - the dealer had raised the price of the vehicle by $1,001 over the weekend. We already knew that, because DW had been following the vehicle on the dealer's web site. But, we were ready to settle on the price they had it listed for on Friday, because we had determined it was a fair price. THE DEALER WOULD NOT BUDGE FROM THE NEW LISTED PRICE. We had a purchase order written three days previously. The slimy dude told us that purchase orders expire after 36 hours. We told him that we were not made aware of that verbally, and that fact appeared nowhere on the purchase order. He said that the 36 hour expiration is "all over our web site". We invited him to pull up his web site, and show us. He declined. We have since looked at the web site and that 36 hour policy appears nowhere. So, we walked out.

DW entered all our desired parameters back into autotrader.com, except this time we widened the search to 100 miles. She found one additional dealership that had three T&C's that fit our parameters. That dealership was in Oakland County, near Detroit. We drove there.

One of the three was not available. I think it was because it was being driven by one of the car dealers, or because it was sold. I don't really remember. So, we drove another one of the vans. It was nice, but it had been in a minor accident, and had a minor amount of rear-end damage still visible. I'll call it honeycombing on the rear bumper. The van had not yet been detailed, and it was evident that the previous owner had a dog. Us to the sales person - "Let's see the third van". The sales person to us "let's see if I can find it". That van was at another location, just eight miles from the city limits of Detroit. This van had a pinch fewer miles, but was offered for a few less dollars. It had been on the lot since September, and we assume it was priced such as it was because they wanted it to move before it got stale. We drove the 15 minutes to the other location. The van was black, and we would have preferred the color of the white one we had just driven. But, this black one had after-market heated seats installed. The car fax checked out, and we offered to buy the van. This van had fewer miles than any of the others we looked at, and was offered for fewer dollars than the van in local town A.

The dealer would not budge on the price, and offered us less than half for our trade than the local dealers($300 as opposed to $750 at the other two dealers). Yes, we drove it until the wheels were ready to fall off. But the "administrative fee" was well less than the other two dealers - I think $94 instead of $200 and $180 at the other dealers.

The bottom line is that we knew this deal was better than the other two we had struck, so we took it.

We made a $6,000 down payment, and financed $11,800 over three years through our credit union. We still have enough money to pay off my truck, so we will only be paying on one vehicle.

Now, for the rest of the story...DW created a small stink on FB about how we were treated at the dealership in town A. She tagged the dealership so that they saw the post. The dealership proceeded to argue back and forth on social media - if you read what they posted you would recognize it as a bad decision. They could have taken a high road and handled it differently, but they did not.

Additionally, between my MIL and FIL and two BIL's, they have purchased three new vehicles from that dealership over the past three years. I guess they didn't recognize DW's maiden name on FB. One of my BIL's called his salesperson, who is an old friend of his, and let him know about the situation.

DW ended up getting a call from our original sales person, who asked us to come back, because they had found a way to sweeten the deal on the van. Sadly, it was too late.

We are very happy with our new-to-us van.

Update

December 9th, 2014 at 11:18 am

1: DW was paid for her freelance work. I can't remember the exact dollar value, but it was substantially more than the $2,000 i mentioned last post.

2: DW received a generous cash gift from her parents for Christmas.

3: The payment for the freelance project plus the cash gift is enough to pay off our credit card, plus quite a bit left over. I made the payment on the CC last night, and it should be posted at 5:00 this afternoon.

4: We are looking for a new to us mini-van. You may have seen my thread in the forums side.

5: We will probably pay off my truck first. I'm not sure how much we'll have left for a down payment for the new to us van.

6: I'm hoping that the new payment on the mini van will be very similar to the current payment on the truck. We have to get bills paid, decide what we want to spend on the new van, etc.

Will update more later once we get a clearer picture of what's going on.

A Fresh Start

December 4th, 2014 at 09:28 am

I'm going to kind of start this blog over, right where I started it in April 2011. At or near the beginning of each month, I would list my debts. I set different debt reduction goals for myself along the way, and I tried to use this blog to keep myself accountable. My situation isn't nearly as dire as it was four years ago, but that formula seemed to work well.

Last time I reported in the blog, about a month and a half ago, Oct. 24, my credit card balance was $4,361. The current (not really current, I just now made the payment on-line, and it won't post til 5:00, but I'm going with it as current) balance is $4,149. My total debts are (debt, interest rate, balance)

Mortgage 2.25% $40,037
Truck 3.99% $4,568
Credit Card 19.99% $4,149
Total Debt $48,754

My only goal at this point is that I owe less on each account than I did the previous month.

I'm still toying with the idea of transferring that CC debt to a 0.00% intro rate card, but I'm not really sure I want to play that game again.

Last time I blogged, I mentioned a freelance job my DW had. For the first time in about 12 years of serious freelance work, DW has been stiffed for payment - about $2,000. The worst part of it is that she had recruited her sister, and a friend of ours from college to work with her, and they got stiffed too. Live and learn, but really after 12 years, it seems like a pretty good record.