“I have negotiated multimillion dollar technical deals, complicated salary negotiations and the finer details for intricate software and hardware projects, but I swear I feel like I complete buffoon every time I purchase a vehicle.” — Terri Grauer
Editor’s note: Terri Grauer is a consultant and writer specializing in the application of network technologies to business challenges. She writes regulary on Mondays for LTW.Every six or seven years I buy a new (to me) vehicle, whether I really want to or not.
I get caught up in the romantic notion of buying a luxury car like a Mercedes, Jaguar or BMW 740i while watching my favorite prime time television show.
I shift gears to buying a brand new SUV while watching pro football on Sunday afternoon and I come back to reality of buying a used car on Monday morning when I go back to work and realize I’m not a millionaire.
So starts the very painful process of trying to find the needle in the haystack.
Where does the average “Jane” go to find a good car at a good price without being taken for a joy ride by the preverbal ‘used car salesman’?
Two years ago when I purchased my last used vehicle I conducted an online investigation of all the possibilities in my local area. I ‘yahoo-ed’ and ‘googled’ and ‘carfaxed’ for days looking for the best deals on three different vehicles that I was keenly interested in purchasing.
I spent hours upon hours filling out ‘dealer’ on-line questionnaires in order to see their ‘Internet inventory’ only to be shown a list of vehicles which did not match my queries and did not disclose pricing.
This of course this let the gate down for all the salesmen to start calling me with ‘Internet special offers’ on vehicles I didn’t want. I spent another three or four hours just answering my phone and telling sales people ‘no thank-you, I am not interested in a X-model car with a special 14 percent finance rate for 60 months.”
I learned my lesson about using my real email address and phone number for ‘Internet questionnaires’.
Fast forward to January 2005. Time to replace my other vehicle, my aged SUV. I really didn’t want to do it, but I had to. It was time, the poor thing had placed a call to Dr. Kevorkian and everyone told me it was time for me to ‘let it go’.
I think I held on as long as I did because I knew what I was about to face again, the ‘used car buying process’. I just don’t have the luxury of cruising the car lots like a teenager anymore and I’ve grown weary of spending so much time and energy on the Internet looking at ‘dealer’s Internet inventory’.
I hate to admit it, since I am a technologist, but the new has worn off the ‘passive Internet experience’ for me. I liked the idea of ‘doing it myself’; of being ’empowered’; of being ‘an anonymous’ shopper’ on the Internet looking for a car two or three years ago, but the reality is I still had to go buy the car in person and I still had to negotiate the deal in person anyway.
This is where the Internet advantage ended for me and I became another ‘woman buying a used car’.
I have negotiated multimillion dollar technical deals, complicated salary negotiations and the finer details for intricate software and hardware projects, but I swear I feel like I complete buffoon every time I purchase a vehicle.
I know what I am willing to pay, I’ve done my research about the value of the vehicle and all the basics of the deal, but once I drive off the lot I still feel like I got screwed some how, some way.
Charlotte Firm to the Rescue
This time I decided to let a professional handle this purchase for me. I contacted the CEO of a new company in Charlotte called “Women’s Automotive Solutions”, Michelle Lundy.
I told her I wanted to buy a used vehicle, what I wanted to pay for it, and what amenities I wanted to have in the vehicle.Michelle explained to me that they offer a ‘flat fee’ service which locates the car I want, negotiates the purchase price of the vehicle with the dealer (or owner if it’s a private sale) and helps facilitate the legal sale of the vehicle.
I signed up, paid my fee (very, very reasonable) and let Michelle and her team go to work for me. In a matter of three days Michelle called me and told me she had my new (to me) car ready for me to test drive.
She managed to locate a 2 year old vehicle with 20,000 miles, remaining factory warranty, color choices I requested in pristine condition for three thousand dollars less than I was willing to pay.
In tangible hard dollars I know I saved at least $3,000 on the price of the vehicle. In soft dollars like time, aggravation, research, negotiation and ‘buffoon feeling’ I’d estimate that this experience has been priceless or at least worth ten times what I paid Women’s Automotive Solutions.
By the way, Michelle assures me they do not discriminate; men are equally welcome to take advantage of their services.
You can contact them via the Internet at www.womensautomotivesolutions.com and you can catch me driving my new car around Charlotte.
Terri Grauer is a consultant and writer specializing in the application of network technologies to business challenges. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org