August 29, 2014

Never buy a car for friends or family

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When you are in the business of selling cars, never, ever sell to friends and family it nearly always ends in tears. For some reason when serving a family member or friend they always expect that it be the cheapest, lowest mileage and cleanest example previously owned by a little old local lady who only went to the shops and back, and of course they absolutely always demand the warranty which guarantees that nothing will ever go wrong…ever.

You need skin as thick as a rhinoceros of course because when you next see them at a family gathering and their car hasn’t started just once and they had to walk to work in the rain, they take great delight in telling everyone how you sold them a lemon and going into great detail about what their local mechanic told the was wrong with car yadda yadda yadda.

So of course the “don’t deal with friends and family” rule is golden and one which must never be broken under any circumstances.

Whilst at a barbecue this weekend my wife was chatting to some friends who have horses, friends who she would like to be a little friendlier with in the hope she may become more involved with those horses. The new friend just happens to drop into the conversation that she was looking for a new car, “no problem” replies my wife “my husband is a car dealer he will sort you out a cracking deal”.

It’s at this point where you can do one of two things. You can accept that you are about to be asked for a car in a very precise colour and spec combination for a fraction of what they cost and that they need will need it yesterday, just shrug your shoulders and say “no problem” and hope you never have to see them again or you just glare at your wife pretend you are really drunk, storm off and leave everyone feel sorry for your wife that she’s married to such a nutter.

Either way you have just had your day ruined.

So whilst looking for this lady’s sporty soft top at the auction and at some of the dealerships I work with (you can see what option I took and that it didn’t work) it suddenly struck me that there should really be some kind of classified section for locating impossible cars at ridiculous prices. That way all these people who want all the back up of buying from a dealer but not actually dealing with them and buying a car from people like me on the understanding that we make absolutely no money from it of course, like minded buyers can engage with each other and swap stories about their fruitless search for such cars.

Only then may they realise that if these cars really existed everyone would be buying them and there would be no car business.

On reflection though the fact that I can’t say no and that I rarely make a profit from these doomed to failure ventures probably doesn’t adequately explain why after 20 years I am still doing this.

I should have listened to a wise old salesman I used to work for many years ago, when he said to me ‘son if anyone comes in here saying they are family or friends of mine charge ‘em double!’

Sound advice I guess.


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