Editor’s note: Sometimes settling on a price for a new car is the easy part

December 28, 2012

I bought a car over the holidays.

That was not my original intention. Instead, I had planned to take advantage of a long weekend to get my ancient, but reliable Honda CR-V serviced. But while waiting for the work to be done, I tugged my wife by the elbow and said, “Lets just look.”

Our look did not last long. I quickly fell in love with a zippy little black number, and the hook was set. All I had to do was settle on a price.

I was prepared for battle. At the desk behind me, another buyer, quite indignantly and quite loudly, was threatening to walk if the dealership refused to come down another $250.

I did not require any such bluster.

My saleswoman was behind in her quota for the month and Christmas Eve is not exactly a busy time to buy a car. She promised me a “spectacular” deal.

I told myself I could walk away, that I didn’t plan to buy anyway. But truth be told, I was already imagining the admiring looks my kids would give me when I pulled into the driveway.

The opening offer proved anything but spectacular. We were far apart. I held my ground and was surprised by how quickly she closed the gap.

Wow, I thought, that was easy. Except the negotiation over the price was nothing compared to the hard sell that followed.

My nice ride might attract some uninvited attention. How about we add on LoJack? Winter can be rough on a car. Can we treat your undercarriage?

Do you want to join the President’s Club, and get discounts and priority in the service bay? How about an extended warranty, not that there’s any reason to expect anything will go wrong with your fine machine. Can we sell you some extra insurance to cover the deductible on your real policy?

My head hurt. But six hours after arriving in the showroom I left in my new car, relieved to have survived the buying ordeal.

I even hugged my saleswoman.

Dan Beyers is the founding editor of Capital Business, The Washington Post’s go-to source for news about the region’s business community.
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