Some of my loyal readers recall my post a few months back that documented the emasculating purchase of a minivan. The van-buying experience was miserable because, well, I was buying a van… but most importantly because the dealership was a nightmare to work with.
Well, 8 months after that experience and 8 years of driving my super cute, super economical, super intimidating Hyundai Accent, I decided to make a change and go car shopping again.
Now, you may be asking yourself, “Why would anyone want anything other than the classy Hyundai Accent?”
That is probably the smartest question you could have ever pondered. The Accent is a hell of a machine.
Mine had no power locks and the key hole was only on the driver’s side so I haven’t opened the door for Caitlin in years. Her fault… not mine. She doesn’t have the patience for me to unlock the doors from the driver’s side, run around to her side, albeit at the speed of the Flash, and open her door. She just opens her door when the locks click open.
She’s so independent.
I love it when she takes charge.
Anyway, my Accent also lacked power seats, went 0-60 in… well… I don’t know that I ever made it to 60 mph, and was a stick (manual for the purists). The fact that it was a stick meant that it had the best Millennial anti-theft system on the planet.
Caitlin (a millennial) doesn’t know how to drive a stick, which was a blessing and a curse. She couldn’t drive my car and crash it into light poles, but at the same time, we could never switch cars when I wanted to cruise around town looking cool in her van… I mean… when I HAD to drive her van for manly things like going to Home Depot and buying big tools or wood or whatever is it that real men buy.
Recent events have led to me making the decision to buy a truck. What’s more manly than a truck, right?
Quick aside: I’m noticing how often I’m referring to manly things. Due to the current cancel-culture of planet earth, please recognize that many of my posts have satire and sarcasm. Moving on…
So I want a truck. My heart was set on a Toyota Tacoma because I think they look amazing and I don’t want a big truck. I want a truck that drives more like a
van SUV and can still fit in my garage.
A midsize pickup truck is all I need. I’m not into those massive trucks with monster tires, 9″ lifts, and stickers of a kid urinating on other truck brands. I’m not going to tow much of anything, I don’t need to haul large boulders, and I don’t feel the need to overcompensate for, well… you know.
At least not in my vehicle choice.
Based on my previous buying experience, I was dreading the whole process. So this time, I brought my 5-year-old boy with me so I could blame us leaving a dealership without buying on the fact that it was past his bedtime. Can you think of any better way to show how secure you are with yourself and your feelings than relying on your child as a way to tell someone no?
Jared and I went to the Toyota dealership first. We walked/skipped up to the front doors with confidence and enthusiasm. We approached the first person we saw and asked if they had any Tacomas we could test drive.
Response: “It’s my first day so… I don’t know. Let me check.”
Hmm… interesting start.
Another employee comes over and informs the new guy what he should do and escorts us into the building. There was a little tension there. Almost like an older brother/younger brother thing, but that’s beside the point.
They asked a few questions to see if I could afford a bicycle, let alone a Tacoma (I was in crummy clothes at the time). After they came to the conclusion that I was harmless, they pulled around a couple used Tacomas for us to check out. Everything looked great on the outside and Jared and I were ready to go on a test drive.
As we pulled out of the parking lot, I noticed that something was tickling my head. That something was the roof.
You see, for those who don’t know me, I’m 6’4″ when I stand up straight. I slouch a bit, but even so, the top of my head was touching the roof of the Tacoma. The seat wouldn’t adjust up and down, only forwards and backwards along with the seat tilt, so I could feel the roof during the entire drive. The only way to alleviate this issue was to scoot my seat way forward and lay the seat way back. It wasn’t comfortable and, if I’m honest, it was a deal breaker for me.
Another thing that ground my gears was how the Tacoma’s gears seemed to grind. I don’t mean there was a grinding sound, just that the transition between gears didn’t feel super smooth whenever I went to accelerate quickly (think freeway onramp). We used to have another Toyota that had the same issue.
Finally, two of the three seat belts in the back were buried under the seat so Jared couldn’t get buckled. Not a Tacoma issue, but still… strike 3.
I was devastated. My heart was set on a Tacoma, but the tickling was lame and heaven forbid I got in an accident and my noggin got lopped off, which would be less than desirable for me.
So… Jared and I moved onto the next option.
Right across the street from the Toyota dealership was the Ford dealership. Jared and I went over there and took a look at the Ford Ranger. The sales person was super nice and very helpful. We looked at the different packages they had a lot to offer. Jared and I liked the Ranger FX4 Lariat.
Me: Because my head fit.
Jared: Because it was a truck.
Oh, to be 5 again…
The Ranger’s headroom and lack of strange transmission transitions put this out in front of the Tacoma.
The downside was that I didn’t particularly love the look compared to the Tacoma and others I’ll mention. Even so, I could fit comfortably inside without having a cowlick on the top of my head and it drove nicely on the short test drive.
Jared and I were leaning toward this truck but we decided to try a couple more the next day.
Chevy Colorado/GMC Canyon
The last on my list to test was the Chevy Colorado/GMC Canyon. These are essentially the same truck, just with different branding badges and located at the same dealership.
We continued our quest to this dealership the next day after Jared’s baseball practice.
The Sales Guy
Pulling onto the Chevy lot, we were excited. There was a line of trucks at the entrance to the dealership and Jared’s pumped seeing all these big, fancy vehicles. As we parked, a tall, skinny guy (relevant later) came out of the dealership and welcomed us. He asked the standard questions to me and then asked Jared if he likes sports. Jared, decked out in baseball clothes, told him he just came from football practice.
Dana wasn’t so sure that sentence was accurate based on the baseball uniform, and I realized that I have failed to properly teach my boy the difference between baseball and football.
I’m embarrassed, Jared is on cloud 9, Dana is confused, and we’re all headed to the part of the lot where the Colorados and Canyons live, facing the main road like a litter of puppies in a pet store window hoping people notice them as they pass by.
I told Dana where we were at on our noble journey and why I was bummed about the Tacoma. He could relate. He sized me up and asked if I was 6’4″ like him. We did the only thing two grown men can do when asked about their height. We both stood back to back, as straight as we could, and adjusted our hands on top of our heads to show that we were taller than the other, all while asking Jared to tell us who was taller.
Okay, it didn’t quite happen like that. It was more along the lines of us standing up as straight as we could, gazing into each other’s eyes, and realizing that we were, in fact, the same height. He empathized with my headroom issue because in one of his past professions, he drove a company truck (Tacoma) and his hair was constantly rubbing against the roof.
This guy gets me.
I liked the Colorado/Chevy looks more than the Canyon/GMC and told Dana that it’s time to test drive this puppy. Dana ran (literally) and got us the keys so we could take it for a spin.
The Test Drive
As we started driving, the first thing I noticed was that I fit comfortably inside with plenty of head room. Big plus.
It was cold that night so we were all shivering for a bit as we started driving. We turned on the heater to warm us up and Dana mentioned that his hands get sore and stiff when it’s cold.
I’m like, “Hey, me too! I’ve always had poor circulation in my hands.” Then, Dana pointed out a button on the steering wheel that is, in my opinion, one of the top 3 inventions of all time.
The steering wheel warmer
I don’t know if that’s the official name for it, but the steering wheel warms up, much like a bum warmer – what we like to call the seat warmers. This is huge because when it gets cold outside, my hands become pretty useless. But, armed with a steering wheel warmer, I feel like I have essentially become invincible. I pop that button on and the steering wheel warms right up. It’s brilliant.
The interior was leather and super nice. Given the car I was used to, I felt like I was in a luxurious space ship, and it was awesome. Big plus.
The infotainment system was fantastic and had everything I could ever want and more.
The truck accelerated nicely, brakes worked, and Jared was happy as a clam. Dana did a great job of answering all my questions and not judging my parking job as I tried to put the truck back where I found it, just at a strange angle that would make Pythagoras roll in his grave.
We looked at a brand new Colorado on the showroom floor with fancy wheels and a few upgrades. I informed Dana that I planned on being back the next day to continue the conversation around the new one, or the one we test drove.
The next day
I’d made up my mind that I wanted a Colorado. I was impressed and it checked all the boxes of what I was looking for. Now, I just had to go through that whole car-buying process at a dealership again.
I was not looking forward to that. In fact, I sent Dana the article I wrote on the van experience and asked him if this is what I had to look forward to, because if so, I wasn’t going to go through that again. He assured me it wouldn’t be like that.
So, after all that back story, here’s a quick review based on my experience of Riverton Chevrolet:
Dana has been mentioned throughout this article. He was fantastic and very helpful. I feel like a good car salesperson’s job is to just be your friend more than anything. He asked questions to better understand what I was looking for. He showed me different truck options that would meet the things I was looking for, plus some extra features and recommendations. We had a lot of similarities in body dimensions.
That sounds weird as I read it back in my head.
We’ll try again…
We’re both tall and skinny. We both understand how the world is not built for people our size and he knew about how our impairments are alleviated with this truck.
He did a great job of helping me understand the next step of the process as I moved closer to the purchase and he didn’t bombard me with messages like some clingy girlfriend who asks if you’re breaking up if you don’t respond to her text after like 4.5 seconds. I appreciated that.
When I went back the next day, he had read my other article and even had a “no recording devices” sign propped up on his desk as a joke. It was fantastic and he did say, “Hey, feel free to record this because it’ll be the best testimonial we could get.”
I didn’t record the process, but he’s right, it would’ve been a great testimonial.
Even though the whole process took a long time (more on that later), Dana respected my time and would literally run back and forth to get keys, paperwork, approvals, and signatures. His hustle was legendary.
I think that was Scott’s role. He came around once price talks started happening. The person in this role at the dealership where I bought the van last year really caused things to go south and I was pretty clear to both Scott and Dana about my apprehension during this step. I kept thinking that Scott was going to slip something in that I hadn’t agree to, or tell me that some mysterious fee was required. Thankfully, that never came. Scott was great and everything he said and promised turned out exactly the way he said it would.
And that’s all I really ask for from anyone in this world.
In my van experience, this was the worst step of the purchasing process. At a different dealership, the finance manager made me say ‘no’ to an extended warranty 20-30 times. He insulted me. He went back on all previous promises made by others in the process. He refused to let me make a down payment until a manager got involved. He tried to force me to accept a rate 3 times higher than the rate my credit union pre-approved (who they claimed to work with). He told me certain fees were legally required when they weren’t.
At this present-day dealership, Ben was the exact opposite of all that.
Ben told me about the extended warranty they offered in a matter of seconds.
I said, “no thanks.”
He said, “no problem.”
And we moved on.
I was in shock. I thought it was some sort of tricky tactic and the warranty would come up later. I was bracing myself for the barrage of insults that never came. That was the last we spoke about extended warrantees.
I had been pre-approved by my credit union for a super-low rate. Ben said they were currently a point higher but he sent a message to the credit union based on what I said and got back a message back from the branch that we were good to go on the lower rate. It was awesome.
He said, “It looks like you wanted to make a down payment, how do you want to make that?” We made it happen.
The whole process with Ben felt like it took maybe 10 minutes to sign what I needed to sign, print off documents, and head out to my shiny new truck.
Ben – seriously, thank you. That was awesome.
Two days prior, when I was test driving the Ford Ranger, that dealership checked out my car and put up an offer for a trade-in should I move forward with the Ford.
Riverton Chevrolet offered double what the Ford dealership offered.
The whole negotiation process wasn’t bad. They came down a little and it wasn’t this hour long back and forth with the mysterious managers in the back.
Scott showed the price of the car along with an itemized list of all taxes and fees associated with the price he was showing me (I never got that after 4 hours with the other dealership).
He told me which fees were required. Given that my stepmom works for a dealership, I knew which fees are negotiable and which were not. Scott presented only one fee that wasn’t required but is standard across all dealerships and that is the Data Dots or Vehicle Theft Registration fee. He and I broke that one down and figured it out together.
There wasn’t high pressure, however, once they had made the concessions they could and agreed to what I asked, they kept my decision process moving forward rather than stalling. Basically, they took away all my barriers to buying to where I didn’t have any anymore. All there was left to do was sign.
In my experience, this happens with 99% of dealerships. The internet price is designed to get you to the lot and looking at cars, but it’s not the price their going to give you to start.
This happened with the new truck I was wanting to get. The online price was at $42k-ish. Once we started talking, it jumped up to $50k.
Similar thing happened on the truck I ended up purchasing. Online, it was shown about $5k less than where our negotiation conversation started.
I’m not a big fan of this tactic. My ‘real job’ is in marketing, so I get the demand-gen idea, but I’m still not a fan. As I mentioned earlier, a rule of thumb I try and live by is if I tell you how something will go, or be priced, or will work, then it better go, be priced, or work that way.
In my experience, this was the only thing at this dealership that wasn’t as advertised as they say.
From letting them know I wanted to buy the truck to when I left the dealership was about 3 hours. Now, there are a few factors that were a part of that, including some computers and printers going down, preventing anything from moving forward for a bit, but that felt like a long time.
Do I expect to be in and out in 15 minutes? No.
An hour? Maybe…?
3 hours? That felt too long. Especially since I wasn’t my usual chatty, friendly self given the car-buying PTSD I was experiencing from other experiences.
Dana did his best trying to cheer me up in my moody, anxious state, but even my favorite comedian would struggle keeping me entertained for that long.
Also, this was March 31st and I had 3 epic April Fool’s pranks planned that I had to get to. It was nice to get this done that night though, because I needed the truck to haul 10,400 ball pit balls to the office for this prank:
Office ball pit prank
The morning after the test drive, I had scheduled a time with Dana to come back and buy. After that happened, I got a call and voicemail from someone at the dealership stating we needed to talk ASAP. I got a text from them as well. I called back and they asked if I planned on coming back in to look at the truck. I informed them that I had already scheduled a time with my sales guy.
An hour or so after I had purchased the truck and was cruising around town in it, I got another call and voicemail asking if I wanted to come check out the truck I was now driving.
In the grand scheme of things, not a big deal. Just a CRM tweak to make sure the people calling me know that the car is sold… to me… and I won’t be coming back to buy the car I have already bought.
All in all, I am very satisfied with my car-buying experience here and the people I got to work with. I love my truck. My kids love the truck. When they first saw it, they were squealing with happiness and they ask me every day if we can go for a ride in the truck.
My boss jokes with me about how he finally feels comfortable sending me to meet clients now that I drive something that isn’t what I was driving.
A couple friends have mentioned that a midsize truck isn’t “really” a truck and that I should’ve gone with a full-size version, but that’s just not me and it’s not what I need.
Caitlin thinks it’s perfect, but what else is she going to say?
So… I feel like that man-card that was ripped into a thousand pieces and thrown into the wind after the van purchase – has been found.
Well, about 2/3rds of those thousands of pieces have been found and reassembled and taped back together, meaning I now have 2/3rds of my man-card back.
Good job, Erik.
Hope you enjoyed my story. I write on the random things in life that make me think, laugh, cry, or that I find entertaining. If you liked reading this or some of my other stuff, subscribe to get notified when I post something new.