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A Story of Two Cars

By May 31, 2018No Comments

Imagine just for a moment that you were buying a new car. Actually, no. Not a new car. A nearly new car. You know that there are many options on how to go about purchasing a motor vehicle. Your next door neighbour, who I shall call for the purpose of this thought experiment, Gerry, suggests a car dealership on the Great North Road. Now it’s important that you mentally characterise Gerry properly as he’ll play an important part in this recruitment metaphor later on. My imaginary neighbor is called Jerry probably due to me being a Brit and growing up watching The Good Life. Please feel free to name yours Murray or Barry or Mike or whatever fits. My Jerry is friendly, yet somewhat of a know-it-all. He works in middle management in an insurance firm, and lends you his pressure washer but explains its operation like you’ve never seen one before. His wife Bernice (“but please, call me Bernie“), rolls her eyes during these monologues.

Back to the story, Jerry has bought three cars from this car dealership over the years. He has come to count the owner as an almost-friend. Last year, he even got a Christmas card signed by not only the dealership’s owner, but also his wife Barbara. You know this as Jerry, being Jerry, moved by his new found status in the New Lynn car dealership elite, showed you the card at his annual Christmas barbecue.  This dealership stocks a range of brands and, to Jerry’s delight, offers the best used car warranty known to man. More on the details of this warranty later…

You are skeptical about going to a car dealership however. You know the stereotype of a car salesman. They’ll tell you anything to sell you the biggest dog on the lot for the maximum amount of cash, only for it to break down 100 metres up the road. Your more intellectual self also realises that a dealership has overheads. Staff on commission. Property leases. Bunting. Those wavy-armed, air-filled inflatable “men”. All of this needs to be paid for, and this must increase the cost of the vehicle.

So instead, you buy privately via TradeMe. You explain to your wife that there’ll be no pushy salesmen, you won’t be covering the cost of inflatable wavy-arm man rental, and when it comes to getting impartial advice about what car to get, what better source of information than the internet? You mention this to Jerry one day over the fence, and of course, you instantly regret this. Jerry tells you again that his dealership provides excellent advice, and that warranty…

You buy a car from a nice chap on the North Shore. You opt for a Ford. You have spent hours researching this, and have taken some pride in your newfound “expertise” in newish cars. The car is sold to you “as seen”. Your wife, over a nice chicken pasta dish, asks you if you’re doing a right thing by buying directly. You insist that you know what you’re doing and will get a great car and a fantastic deal.

Jerry, again being Jerry, decides that with all this talk of newish cars, it’s time that he changes the ol’ family wagon. He couldn’t be outdone by his neighbour who doesn’t even receive Christmas cards from the 4th largest independent car dealership in West Auckland. He dutifully goes one Saturday to the dealership and explains to the salesman his requirements. The salesman suggests three vehicles. Let’s say a Holden, a Subaru, and a Ford. Jerry senses that the salesman favours the Subaru. He feels the low cost of servicing and cheap parts is enough to sway the decision. Jerry, being Jerry, and a 3rd generation westie at heart, opts for the Holden. Still a fine car by the salesman’s reckoning, and regardless, all cars sold come with the world’s best vehicle warranty. Jerry pays, and drives away with his newish Holden that day.

The warranty offered by this dealership states that should your car have any issue within its first 3 months, it will be replaced free of charge. Not only this, but should you not like the car for any reason in the first 3 months, it will again be replaced free of charge. Even better, no matter how badly you treat you car, your car is covered by the same warranty.

Hopefully by now, you can see my hackneyed recruitment analogy. It’s at this stage however, that I want to focus purely on the three month free replacement guarantee that our industry offers as standard – or for the sake of this story, the dealership’s warranty.

In week one, both Jerry’s and your car develop a bit of a rattle. Jerry is straight back to the dealership. You, having your reputation as a sourcer of great secondhand cars at stake, turn up the radio. At week three, you are still driving your costly newish car slowly and carefully. Jerry, knowing that his car can be returned and replaced at any stage in the first three months, is reliving his Westie roots by participating in illegal street drags in Henderson. By month two, your car isn’t always starting first time. You tell anyone who’ll listen that it’s not the car’s fault of course; it’s uncharacteristically cold for this time of year and it’s nothing a quick spray of WD40 won’t fix. Jerry is blaming the dealership for selling him a Holden as opposed to a Subaru. Regardless of their war crimes, the Japanese sure know how to build a reliable motor. By week eleven, Jerry is on his second car, and the dealership has a burnt out Holden in the garage. You are under the bonnet of your Ford. It was definitely the right choice, and with a few tweaks, “it’ll be perfect.” Two newish cars have been purchased. One was treated with kid gloves, and given every chance and excuse to be a good little runner. The other went through trial by fire under the knowledge that if it didn’t cut it, it’d be replaced for free, with the dealership taking the majority of the flak for any failings.

Would it take a huge leap of deduction to suggest that the source of a vehicle (or person) affects the criteria by which you judge it/them by? Is the car recommended by a dealer judged by harsher standards than the car researched and sourced directly? Also, has the car (or person) with the fabulous replacement warranty been treated as well as the car purchased “as seen”?

It does make you wonder.

Well done for making it to the end of my yarn. Have a great weekend.