How Driving a Fair Deal Drives You to Distraction

How Driving a Fair Deal Drives You to Distraction

We curtailed the process of buying a car because the salesmen, their translators and supervisors were monopolising our telephones and demanding our total time, day after day. And we’d only contacted two of the four dealers intended.

It started as a casual look at a couple of vehicles on show at a shopping centre. I’m just going to look at that car, announced The Playmate, thrusting the over-laden and wayward shopping trolley into my pelvis and disappearing through the driver’s door for a good hour.

In a series of graceless and injurious manoeuvres which involved spinning clockwise while trying to inch forward, the trolley and I proceeded pathetically across the courtyard towards the vehicle that had eaten The Playmate, nearly dislodging some attachment of dubious purpose which turned out to be part of the car’s fabulous package of “special promo” extras.

It was this package of extras that captivated The Playmate, a perpetual sucker for useless gadgets that are falsely said to perform miracles within their abbreviated life spans. A weather buff from way back, The Playmate’s priority inclusion in a car is an external temperature gauge. Forget the practicalities of performance, safety and whether it will fit in the garage; if it’s got gadgets, it’s a goer.

And this elongated, hearse-like creation had enough doodahs to amuse him for years, providing he used them one by one, activating one from the stash in reserve when its predecessor died. What a ridiculous plan. Of course he’d be blowing all the whistles and ringing all the bells at once, pushing them all prematurely into oversubscribed gadget grave. 

Like a recurring nightmare, they called again and again

Then he’d be toy-less and unhappy with this long, morbid contraption that I already hated with a passion. A counter strategy was needed, I decided, spotting the other, much smarter-looking “special promo” vehicle in almost precisely the spot from which I’d come.

I wasted a few seconds giving the trolley a good telling-off and wishing for a whip before starting the preposterous spin back across the courtyard where I gleefully abandoned it to passing opportunists and settled into the driver’s seat to get the low-down on the deal, which was attractive enough to convince Gadget Man that I’d found an “option.”

My first call came early. Did I want to make a deposit? No, I wanted a price and a test drive. A car promptly arrived, but it was a different model and it was automatic, not manual, and so on. But we agreed on a price and arranged to make the tedious trek from Ungasan to the Denpasar showroom, in a violent storm, to view the actual vehicle, which wasn’t there. 

Be calm, soothed The Playmate, as the salesman explained that our price of course did not include various body parts without which the car looked indescribably ugly. You gave us a price for a full car, the one we saw, and that is what we want – not half a car, I said slowly. Not possible, he replied, but how about…? Studiously polite and inwardly seething, we left. A long half a day had been wasted.

The Playmate’s phone was running hot. There is no point in bringing a car to test drive until I know your price, he repeated. It may be beyond budget and you will waste your time. The next call announced that the salesman, his supervisor and the hearse were in our street. Here was another wasted day in the making.

Thanks to the previous deal that couldn’t be met, we had determined a budget. Impossible, assured the hearse men. Fine. Sorry. No deal. Thanks and goodbye.

We’d barely dragged ourselves up the stairs, hoping to get on with life, when my guy called, shouting with excitement that the “not possible” deal could be done … almost. The offer was indeed close to our original agreement. We concurred we didn’t have the strength to consult the remaining two dealers and accepted with resignation and relief that negotiations were over. 

Then Hearse Man called to offer more discount, but we’d have to lose the gadgets. The Playmate was remarkably patient and clear in his explanation that we’d bought an alternative car. Hearse Man handed over to his supervisor and The Playmate went through it all again. Sorry. Thank you. Goodbye.

Then, like a recurring nightmare, they called again. They could meet our budget. We wondered what more they could strip from the car to do so. There is no doubt they understood that we “said” we’d already bought a car. Perhaps they thought we were negotiating local-style.

We were, in fact, so worn down that we’d denied ourselves the choice of two other probable products and bought a car we’d never seen from an outfit that had reneged on its agreement and then redefined “impossible.” And it had, only after the contract was signed, revealed that the “extra” body parts would come sometime after delivery.

Please wish us luck. We would seem to need it.


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