Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Penises, Vibrators and Cars

The other night, while sitting out on the balcony with my wife talking about our day, we got in a bit of a discussion about my job as a car salesman.

Seems like she wasn’t too fond of my description that a 50’ish female customer I was working with was driving a $37,000 “vibrator”. (Actually, she has a 7-year old Nissan 350Z convertible).

“Wait a minute,” I said. “You’re getting irked at the notion that this woman bought a car 4 years ago and has admitted that it was her ‘bright and shiny toy’ that she ‘just had to have’ to indulge her late middle age desire for a ‘go-fast convertible’.”

“But let me ask you something…you don’t have any problems describing a guy that age who has a Corvette as owning a $40,000 penis do you?”

“Well, no,” my bride replied.

“It’s the same thing,” was my response.

Yeah, it was the same thing. Men have been doing that for years with ‘Vettes and Mustang Cobras and Mitsubishi Evo’s and Dodge Challengers and big, bad-ass, jacked-up trucks. Women do it too. It has to do with our image of our masculinity or femininity or the idea that we’re 40 plus and want to feel young.

And yeah, somehow or another these vehicles are tied into our sexuality—our attractiveness, our desirability. I’ve never had the cash to indulge that fantasy, nor the inclination.

So what’s this all about? Well, I had this customer the other day. 50’ish, female and wanting to buy a new, sporty car. No problem. Until she told me later in the day over the phone that she had a trade-in. OK, still no problem. An ‘07 350Z convertible. Still no problem. $8000 “upside-down”. Potential problem. Only $2000 available for a down payment. Yep, potential problem.

To make the long story short, when I was finally able to get her to come in so we could appraise her car. In actuality, she was nearly $10,000 upside down. Oops.

Now, a car dealer can do some legerdemain sometimes with how to assemble a deal structure so that it works for a customer with substantial negative equity. It’s a lot harder today than it was 3 or 4 years ago, thank goodness. Things tightened up with car loans at the same time they did with home mortgages—and for the same reasons.

Turns out, she still owed over $19,000 on a vehicle she bought 4 years ago that’s worth less than $10K. And there’s still 3 years to go on the loan. Oops! Great big Oops!

You know what bugs my butt though? This person bought a middle-aged ego-booster. She’s tired of it. It’s not big enough. But lady, it’s not my fault! It’s not my fault that you screwed yourself by agreeing to a 7 year loan and that you paid new-car price for a car which was 3 years old when you bought it. It ain’t my fault! Yeah, when I had to give her bad news, she got mad. At me!

She got mad at me when I told her that she had a 7 year loan (she thought it was only a 6 year loan—but hmmmm, I can do that math…she’s made 49 payments and has 35 to go, yep that’s 7 years). She didn’t believe me. “Well ma’am,” I said, “that’s what it shows on both Experian and TransUnion so what I’d suggest is that you check your original contract to make sure.”

But that’s OK, you need to be miffed at someone and there’s only so much that you can beat yourself up and you have to do that privately rather than in my office. And, I’m not the first guy that you’ve tried to do this with. I imagine that the other dealers you’ve gone to have told you the same thing. I mean, we can do it. We can get you out of the car, but it’s going to take more like $6000 down. But your payment will be over $100 lower. And she got mad at that. But that’s OK. That’s the nature of the business.

Hey, if you’ve got a testosterone toy or an estrogen machine, that’s cool. Make sure that you set yourself up to succeed when you’re tired of driving it. And, although you may have gotten screwed without getting kissed, you were a willing participant. Plus, I’m not the guy who did it to you. I’m the guy who’s trying to help you get out of it!

Just remember—it’s a car! It’s not proof that you’re a hottie or a stud. It’s transportation. There’s no status that’s conveyed to you by the car you drive.

Here’s a YouTube of one of my favorite all time car commercials—give it a watch, it’s funny.

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