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July 29, 2006

Tale of Two Salesmen

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The last car I drove in Honduras was a Toyota MR2 Supercharged. Boy, I loved that car! It had a good look and a superb performance for an inline 4, 1.8 liter, supercharged engine with 145 hp and a red line above 7000 rpm. Whenever the green light (the supercharger activation light indicator) was lit, my back was treated to a thrilling pressure by the sports oriented seat!

perpici007.jpg (28574 bytes)When I came to the U.S. I had to "settle" for an Infiniti.  If you want to know the details, click on the Infiniti picture. I hold no grudges about the car, except that it has too many seats and doors. It has superb accommodations and acceptable performance for a car in its class. But...

On 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...

It was 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.

When I 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

A new 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.

Salesman No. 1 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...

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