Saturday, July 04, 2009

It pays to shop around.

My mom and I spent all day Wednesday going to car dealerships and looking at Wagons and Crossover SUVs. She has an 11-year-old wagon and wanted to replace it with a newer vehicle. She likes to haul a lot of stuff, so a car wasn't going to cut it.

Finally, she had it down to the Subaru Outback, which is more of a station wagon build and the Toyota Rav4, a crossover SUV. On Friday, we went back to both dealerships, test drove the vehicles, and learned a little more about them.

Joey at Subaru was nice, a brand new car salesman. The ratings weren't quite as good for the Subaru. Also, my mom had seen some sort of sale advertised three weeks earlier, but no one knew what she was talking about or offered to pull out old sale papers. That was kind of a black mark.

Jed at Bob Tyler Toyota was also nice, a very good salesman, and we went in and made an offer. After some back-and-forths, he took an offer to the Sales Manager. Came back with a counter offer of $24,908. We haggled some more, Jed went back to the SM, and he came back with the same offer.

We left. We went back to Mom's and I looked around online at other options. Was there something we missed? Every other vehicle in the price range either was too small or the company's in bankruptcy or had poor ratings, and if we were going to stick with the $24,000 price, why look at other vehicles that cost the same or more?

So, I went to the VW dealer's website, and I asked for a price quote on a Jetta Sportwagen. I received an automated response, but as of yet, no prices. Then I went to the Quality Imports website and checked the prices on a 2009 Rav4 from their dealership. I clicked on the "make us an offer" tab and made a very low bid. Within a couple of hours, I had gotten an e-mail quote and then a very reasonable offer by phone.

We figured we'd be on the road at least three hours, plus the time to complete the transaction, if we went to Ft. Walton Beach, and Jed had spent a lot of time with us showing the car this week. So, I called him, told him that I had an "out the door" offer of $22,622 from Quality. Could he match it? "I'll make it happen," he said.

I picked up my husband from work at 5pm, stopped by for mom, and by 5:45pm we were at Bob Tyler Toyota. We played the game of him writing the amount on the paper, mom initialed it, then he took it to the General Manager (bypassing the SM, he said). When he returned, he had a new number written on the paper. Still more than $24K. And I lost a little respect for him, because he basically said that Quality must be lying to us, just to get us to drive over there. There's no way they could be selling the vehicle for that low. Bob Tyler paid more than $21K for the car, so how could Quality have an invoice price of $20,900? I said that Marty at Quality told me they'd make their profit through a dealer rebate (sounds like the dealer holdback I read about on Edmunds). Jed insisted there were no incentives available for the Rav4 (although holdback isn't an incentive). We said we had to check it out.

After we left, I called Marty at Quality and basically told him what Jed said and asked to verify the price of $22,622. He checked and called me back and said he'd left off a couple of fees to the tune of $10.50. I said I could live with that and we'd see him in the morning.

My mom and I hit the road about 8:30am and we arrived around 10am. We took I-10, because we figured Highway 98 (the beach route) would be at a crawl on the 4th of July. Marty said the car was being gassed up, so we started the paperwork. Turns out they hadn't calculated the sales tax exactly right because of us living in a different county. Then we added on the extended warranty and road hazard protection for a grand total on the check of $24,246 and change. So for less than Bob Tyler wanted to charge us, my mom got the vehicle she wanted, plus she is protected for seven years against anything going wrong with the car AND for several years, she's covered for any flat tires or rim damage.

I'm really tempted to fax the final bill of sale over to Jed to prove that Quality Imports was true to their word.

Quality Imports also gave us a free lunch. They were having a cookout and Scion enthusiasts show. Here's a little video I took with my new Flip Mino, which I won from Liz at This Full House. I'm still kind of getting the hang of the video, so it's not the greatest, but do check out the Green Boxzilla. It's awesome!

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