November 27,2001 I fulfilled my desires of owning again a 2-seater,
performance car. This time I moved to an European model: A BMW Z3
roadster of the famous M division. A beauty with an inline 6, 3.2 liter,
naturally aspirated engine with 240 hp with a 5 speed transmission. This
is the story of its purchase...
Tuesday November 27, 2001. After Wall Street closed shop at 1:00 pm
Pacific Time, I headed for the used... er, pre-owned European cars
dealership. I didn't invent that marketing class-warfare, I am only
repeating it (conveniently for me, of course). Dealers of Mercedes Benz,
BMW, Porsche, Lexus and the likes, do not sell "used cars", they
sell "previously owned cars". OK, whatever; I parked my Infiniti
a few feet away and walked to the lot.
Salesman No. 1
There was a
salesman (hereafter referred as Salesman No. 1) showing a car to another guy.
I took a look at the car that caught my attention the night before.
Although the color was not exactly my favorite, I liked it enough to continue
my examination. No price was printed in the vehicle and since I was very
interested, I looked in the direction of Salesman No. 1 to see if he would
come and talk to me. He didn't pay attention to me and I decided not to go
directly to him because I wanted to go first to the Internet and check the
prices on both, the roadster and my car, you know, for the negotiation. I
left the lot with the firm intention of returning that same night.
returned, I noticed that some guys where cleaning the car. My first
thought was that I was out of luck and that the car was sold. Nevertheless, I
decided to check and went into the lot. Salesman No. 1 appeared and talked
to the guys who where cleaning the car. -Is the car sold?- I asked Salesman
No. 1. -No- was his only response. He didn't ask me if I was
interested in seeing it! For all he cared, I could had turned around and
walk away!. I could not believe it. New car dealers are offering 0%
financing (although only to qualified buyers) in a desperate attempt to
shore up sales amid a slumping economy; and here it is a guy who don't
care about someone asking questions about a car! -Could I see it?- I asked
him with a casual, humble tone. -Sure, I will get the keys- He told me and
went inside the office. He never returned. Obviously he thought of me as a
waste of his precious time. Oh boy! two hours later, he would be so sorry!
Salesman No 2
salesman came with the keys. He introduced himself and then opened the
car. Carlos (that's his name), a Salvadoran guy, was very responsive
to my inquiries about the car. He showed me the inside, the trunk, the
engine, and also other model that they had. It was a coupe version of the
Z3M. We quickly developed rapport and when we finally came to the point
(the pricing) he showed that he was determined to make the sale, right
there! We agreed to terms and took me to test-drive the vehicle. I was
already hooked to the roadster, so it was an effortless sale for Carlos.
When we returned from our little tour I went inside the office to check
the final terms. I had to confess that I wasn't prepared to close the deal
that very same night. I had the trunk of the Infiniti loaded with stuff,
its looks were not exactly pristine (too much dirt). However, in the end
it didn't matter as they valued the car for what I expected to receive (of
course I asked for more), and sold me the roadster for a little bit above
what I offered. The deal was done! Carlos, the salesman No 2 booked it and
pocketed the commission.
was still there and saw me filling the paperwork. That night, my mind
was entirely concentrated on the fact that, after 4 years and 2 months I
was driving again a 2-seater, performance car much more powerful than the
last I had (the MR2). I unloaded my personal stuff from my now traded-in
Infiniti, put them into the roadster (the roadster's trunk was not big
enough), and then drove home. It was in the following days that I recalled what
happened and started to think about Salesman No. 1 and what his feelings could
have been that night.
I had to go
back to the dealer to complete the financing paperwork and I mentioned to
Carlos the story of my initial contact with Salesman No. 1 and my thoughts
about the "evaluation" that the poor guy made about me. He told
me (emphasis are mine): "Yeah, I recall it, he sent me to you that
night. He was VERY surprised that you took the car home. I think that the
guy COULD NOT SLEEP THAT NIGHT!"
I bet he
couldn't. During tough economic times, an easy sale came to him, as
if fallen from the sky, and he handed it over to another salesman!.
All because he judged the book by its cover...