David Carr — Chapel Hill, NC
Browsing a showroom is a terrible experience, since the browser is preyed upon pretty quickly by desperate hunters and gatherers. Even when I might actually want to buy a car, I find the showroom experience to be discouraging, not just because I don’t want to be “sold to,” but because I know it would lead to lots of indecision and questioning: How badly will I be taken by this person? Why am I even talking to him? Where is the door? And that is without the inevitable meeting with The Manager, often a knucklehead in charge of other knuckleheads.
The experience I had buying with Lindsay and Frank this week had none of that vulnerability or feeling that I was dealing with desperadoes. I expressed interest. Lindsay responded. I hesitated. Lindsay made a move to sell me a car (“We would like to bring a car over for you to drive.”) and that was all it took. I appreciate what salespeople do; most do not do it well, or feed the doubts of the buyer. The pleasure of this deal is that Lindsay and Frank know what selling is and make it a mutual experience.
What I wanted, and what Car Pal did, was to given the opportunity to make a good decision, with useful information and the sense of confidence that the deal and the process would be fine. More big items should be sold this way.
Then, when I got to the dealership to pay and pick up the car (Subaru, very nice, pleasant salesperson in fact), I was reminded of what a barren patch of land most car dealerships are, and how deadening it must be to be in a a car showroom all day.
The automobile is a vital theme of American life, a force of economy and recent history, and an element in our own sense of feeling comfortable and independent. Why don’t car dealers appreciate this and use it to make us smarter and feel better when we buy?