car tripping

Since my dad is planning on trading my and Ignatius' cars in for new ones, I have had the pleasure lately of going to dealerships and test-driving cars.

Now, the first salesman (Mazda, for the record) was quite nice. Looked me in the eye, didn't seem surprise when my handshake wasn't limp (I sometimes get comments on the fact that I have a grip, which I think is sad), explained all the mechanical components of the engine and whatnot along with all the twiddly little details about the car. (Like the sound system controls on the steering wheel, which I thought was kinda spiffy.) I wasn't familiar with the area the dealership was in so he gave me a route to test-drive which included some twists and bumps so I could get a better idea of how the car handled, which I appreciated.

Last salesman (Nissan) was busy helping a bunch of other people, so left me to poke about on my own after asking if that was okay with me, which it was. I asked him the few questions I had and got pretty straightforward answers. I test-drove it by myself as well, which was kinda nice.

The second salesguy, though, at Toyota, made the mistake of trying to sell me a car as if I were a girl.

I am a young, Caucasian, upper-middle-class female, a demographic which is probably deservedly notorious for not knowing shit about cars. I will freely admit that in general the term "independent multi-link Macpherson suspension" doesn't mean a whole lot to me. However, I'm quite familiar with things like gas mileage, horsepower and torque, and passenger/cargo space. I'm a decently skilled driver, at least on automatic. I actually researched the cars in question online and already knew most of the features and comparisons between them. So when a salesman asks me if I have a color preference as to which car I test-drive, and repeatedly informs me that "we need to put [me] in" a "peppy," "sporty" car, especially after I tell him that I really don't give a flying fuck about appearance (albeit phrased more politely), I get a little irked.

Especially when after I evince knowledge of the capabilities of the car, I'm told that since I've "done my homework" I'll "make someone a good wife someday." I think he caught the Look I gave him after that.

Seriously, he described the car as "peppy" something like six times. I asked him what he could tell me about the engine, expecting to get something about 1.8 versus 2.3 liters maybe, and he described it as "peppy." Fuck "peppy," I'd like something approaching specificity about the damn hunk of metal bits.

I thought about telling him what his mistake was, since I'm sure as hell not buying that car now (not solely as a result of his gross miscalculation of his customer, but it didn't help), but I figure that if he wants to stereotype every chick that walks into the showroom he can reap the results of doing so.

Thing is, there's really nothing in my appearance that would signal that I would appreciate that kind of treatment. I'm wearing plain dark jeans and t-shirts with sneakers and a leather jacket. I don't wear makeup. I had glasses on (which I actually did on purpose for the "intellectual" angle they can provide). I looked him in the eye, asked relatively technical questions and quite bluntly told him what I needed. I don't think I look like the kind of girl who wants a car to match her heels and thinks the lack of makeup mirrors on the sun visors is a dealbreaker. So what compelled him to sell the car to my tits instead of my brain?

Who knows. Maybe my ass is too nice and it looks like I work out.

In retrospect, it's more amusing than angering, since he's the one who's losing a sale. It takes a certain sort of idiocy to make that kind of error, somewhat analogous to the kind needed to try to sell a subscription to Bitch magazine to Pat Buchanan.


thus saith Liadan at 12:29 AM


Blogger marauder saith at 12/31/2005 11:49 AM...  

I've had similar experiences myself. It's not just your sex that makes salesmen think you're an easy sell for whatever model they want to get rid of and that "peppy" is a sufficient description of a car's engine, it's your relative youth and presumed inexperience with car shopping as well.

I had a pair of friends who, when they graduated from college, had a car picked out, had worked out a good deal, and when they went to pick it out, found the salesman had changed the options on the car, and written the contract so it was lease instead of purchase.

Car salesmen (and car saleswomen too, I imagine) are somewhat predatory. They have to be, since they're paid on commission and not on salary. They're told which models they have to sell, and how many of them, and a failure to meet their quota can mean losing their jobs -- even if they meet or surpass their quota, but by selling cars that weren't marked for clearing out.

Still, the guy you describe sounds like a buffoon. If he's going to mark you as an easy sale toward his quota, the least he could do is to treat you like an actual person, even if he doesn't feel that way.

Blogger JJ saith at 1/20/2006 8:12 AM...  

Heh... I remember shopping for a car. I went by myself a grand total of once! I decided to 'borrow' a friend's husband after the dealer refused to answer any of my questions and offered to 'clean the car at no extra charge.'

Blogger Christine saith at 1/27/2006 5:12 PM...  

I can so relate! When I was truck shopping way back when, I refused to by from the Isuzu dealer because the only truck they had was the "Hombre" - and there was some mention to me about buying "a man" - whatEver. ;)

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