Close encounter of the slimy kind

The members of some occupations have certain reputations. Yesterday I had my first encounter with one of them: The used car salesman.

I’ve dealt with real estate agents before, and to be honest, they’ve seemed pretty much okay. If they are just trying to rip all your money off you, at least they give the illusion of being nice. But this used car salesman – and from what people have told me, this is nothing unusual – didn’t even bother trying to disguise the fact that all he wanted to do was make a sale.

As soon as the remotest interest was taken in any of the cars (such as "have you got something like this in a manual"), he’d start jabbering on about "the boss being able to cut a little off the price", but if actually asked about anything other than the price, and he appeared to be almost as bewildered by it all as I was.

Worse was the way this guy, who looked all of 17, seemed to have gone to a seminar in how to make the non-car-knowledgeable (like me) feel like a complete idiot. He kept asking if I could spot some insignificant feature, like where the seats were attached in the car ("Where are the seats attached, can you see?"), or asking me where the fuses were – things which I had absolutely no idea about, and which are not really the top priority for me when it comes to car shopping.

When I expressed interest in a Mitsubishi, he snorted and extolled the virtues of Toyotas instead, by lifting the bonnets of both and explaining how much easier it is to change the fuses in a Toyota. That combined with the fact that Toyotas have a special thingy to prevent the bonnet going through the windscreen in a collision had apparently proved to him that Toyotas are the king of cars.

Well, and also possibly the fact that he works for a Toyota dealer. That might have meant a slight bit of bias. But rather than say this, I just smiled and nodded as one does when faced with a talkative but deranged person, and I tried to estimate how many used car salesmen could be smothered in the huge Toyota flag suspended behind him.

I did encounter another car salesman today, but thankfully he was much more laid back, something which was rewarded by real interest from me in one of his cars, to the point of a test drive. I was a bit shaky I’ll admit, but it’s been a month since I last drove a manual car.

What has been more scary today has been the enquiries about comprehensive car insurance. Given that I’m a car newbie, and L hasn’t driven in several years, it looks like we’re stuck on "Rating 6", also known as "You’re Going To Have To Pay Through The Nose For Insurance, Matey".

But I guess I always knew this game was going to be expensive – one of the reasons I’ve avoided it for so long. I can only hope that we can get it all organised without having to take out a second loan for the insurance!

By Daniel Bowen

Transport blogger / campaigner and spokesperson for the Public Transport Users Association / professional geek.
Bunurong land, Melbourne, Australia.
Opinions on this blog are all mine.