Sunday, April 27, 2008

Where the Used Car Salesman Gets His Name

Renton, Washington. The used car salesman definitely gets his name (and reputation) at a particular used car lot in Renton. I won't say exactly which one, but it begins with an "F" and ends with a "D" and it's right next to the freeway.

We're still looking to buy a car to replace Tom's god-awful truck. Fortunately, we're in no hurry at all -- which is good because someone keeps changing his mind about what car he wants. Which, actually, is also good because we're zeroing in on smarter choices, like rejecting cars that take only premium gas (goodbye, Beemer!) or get atrocious gas mileage (goodbye, Landcruiser) or have no room in the back seats (goodbye, Exterra) or are too expensive, even if it is the perfect car for us (goodbye...sigh... beautiful blue 4Runner Limited with all the bells and whistles and hardly any miles).

Yesterday, after a previous evening of car shopping in Bellevue and a morning at the REI Scratch and Dent sale, we decided to head to a particular used car lot in Renton to look at a particular car that had been listed on Autotrader.

As we drove onto the lot and slowed the car to a crawl, looking for a place to park, we noticed that we were being "tailgated" by a salesman. We hadn't even stopped the car, when this man -- who looked more like he belonged on the streets of Pioneer Square by night than on a used car lot by day -- accosted us, begging asking if he could be of assistance. Tom, being the kind and friendly type, was kind and friendly, explaining that we were responding to the ad for the specific car. The salesman immediately looked nervous and confused, shuffling his feet and wringing his hands. This was too much for him; he had to summon the master salesman.
The master salesman, who was maybe 23, tops, appeared and Tom repeated his inquiry.

"Oh, sure!" the salesman replied eagerly, and began to walk toward a row of cars. Salesman B followed closely, like a puppy dog, on the tail of Mr. Master Salesman. It was the first time of many that day that I wondered why we needed two salesmen to hound help us. "Get in!" he demanded, opening the doors to a car that didn't even begin to fit the description of the car we came to look at. "We need to drive to it; it's on our other lot." I was feeling more and more captive and more and more uncomfortable, and when my choice was to sit in the backseat with creepy Salesman B or to leave Tom to sit in the back with him, I -- well, I opted to let Tom sit with him.

We drove about a mile (it seemed like 10) in silence. (I know -- silence, in the presence of used car salesmen! Talk about a contradiction in terms! And I don't mean not-putting-on-the-pressure silent; I mean creeeeeepy-silent!) When we arrived at the other lot, the car we'd come to see practically jumped out at us. I thought I'd like a bright, bright yellow Exterra, but upon seeing it I immediately had second thoughts. We'd come all the way to Renton, though -- and all the way to this lot in the middle of nowhere-in-Renton -- to see this car, so we knew we should drive it. First we explored its interior, which was amazingly small and cramped for such a big, rugged off-road SUV. By the time we agreed to drive it, my primary purpose was to dodge the two hovering, creepy, young, silent salesmen.

But nooooo. They piled into the back seat of the car and handed Tom the keys. Wait a minute! We'd gone on a few test drives in the past weeks and the salesmen had never gone with us. How could Tom and I discuss a car's virtues with salesmen breathing down our necks? And two of them, no less! Two silent salesmen! Two very young, silent salesmen. Two young, silent, creepy salesmen. Ewwwwww.

Our response in this situation was... well, silence! Tom accelerated, braked, drive a few tight circles, then stopped and handed me the keys. I did the same. Then I broke the silence, asking directions back to the lot. Once we got back to the main lot, we explored the car again, talking quietly in the back seat -- the only place we could get away from these guys, one of whom had absolutely no respect for the notion of personal space. We decided the car was too cramped inside and that we weren't interested in pursuing it further.

But they continued to hover. And like robots, they'd ask silly little questions ("did you like the back seat?") and make stupid little comments ("I have one of these myself..." BULL!) By this time, I was creeped out enough to just want to leave. There was no way in hell I'd get into a sales discussion with these two! Even if we'd loved the car, I'd have wanted to leave. Maybe we were just hungry and cranky, not having eaten anything all day (and it was approaching mid-afternoon), but we both obviously wanted to leave -- which we finally did, but only after my kind and friendly husband provided Mr. Creepy with our contact information.

I know -- ewwwwww again!

Once we escaped that lot, we stopped at a Wendy's to finally get a bite to eat and noticed that there was a used Subaru lot just adjacent to the restaurant. We decided to take a quick peek before heading home, but we ended up staying for a good half-hour, looking at their Foresters and Outbacks, accompanied by a very nice, very friendly salesman, who didn't creep us out at all.
We're seriously considering the Subaru now (and welcome opinions!), more because of the virtues of the car, certainly, than the salesperson. But still, a creepy used car salesman is very effective -- at driving AWAY potential customers. And when I think about our experience at the creepy used car lot with the two creepy salesmen yesterday, only one thought comes to mind: "eeeeeeeew!"

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Maria said...

Ooo... I HATE used car sales people as a general rule. Not as people, but in how they do their jobs. I have found one lot in Tulsa that I have bought two cars from-- and I went back because the salesmen were the exact opposite of what you described. Quite honestly, I'd go back again too.

I know nothing of Subaru. Good luck! :)

Anonymous said...

Both of my sons had very good luck with their Subarus and would highly recommend them. Son #1 still has his and uses it mostly for back-country roads on his way to mountain climbing.

Anonymous said...

I've never heard anything bad about Outbacks, Carol. And I feel for you on the creepy car salesmen. We dealt with one of them last May- left the place and bought our car elsewhere.

But speaking of GOOD cashiers, the nicest, handsomest, most personable young man sold us our pizza tonight. Chip off the old blocks, that Aleks. :)


Anonymous said...


LOVE my new Outback! This is our 3rd Subaru. We had the prior two for 10 yrs each, 150,000 miles - NO PROBLEMS. (We just thought maybe we should update ourselves.) Can I recommend She is in our area (Eastside). I refuse to deal with Autodealers. She does it for you. She even delivers the car!

Goofball said...

eeeeeeeew indeed!

Unknown said...


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