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My cube experience
We are adding a second car from after years of use of our trusty 1997 Toyota Corolla, which shows no signs of giving up. The Cube, although at first glance it seems to be a kids car (some say a toaster on wheels), I found it to be quite spacious inside, has a comfortable ride and gets 31 MPG on the freeway 27 city, while providing a zippy 1.8 litre engine with an ultra-efficient continuously variable transmission (CVT). Just sit in nearly any other vehicle and then sit in the cube and notice how much headroom you have in there. The styling effects and seat comfort are big plusses. On the down side, I’m still not sure of the usable cargo space with seats up (just 11 cu ft. in the back). We’ll need to add a roof rack to go camping. Still, no big deal for 95% of our driving which is commuting to school, work and errands. The color (we have Bitter Chocolate) and styling have proven to be a big hit around town. We get a lot of positive comments about it (and a few that say they’ve never seen anything so weird).
Anyway, the buying experience is what I wanted to share. First, I started with Hertz Rent to Buy, which has a location in my town. They have an easy to use website, a huge inventory and a friendly staff with a no-obligation 2 hour test drive. Everything I liked about it, even the prices looked reasonable for a well maintained (I think you’ll be able to tell for yourself if a rental car has been truly abused) relatively low miles (between 15k and 40k) easy to buy car. I always had the assumption that I was going to save a bundle by buying a newer used car (1-3 years old), and never considered new. That assumption began to crack when I checked out TrueCar.com. From the prices I was seeing from Hertz and other sellers on Craigslist versus TrueCar’s new price, it became clear I wasn’t going to save much, if anything by going the used route. If anything, I was paying too much for a Cube, even if it was well maintained and in great condition.
I plugged in my spec for a new 2010 Cube 1.8S with CVT and TrueCar quoted it for me at an enticing price, $15,249 at one dealership. I entered my contact info, and as soon as I did that I knew the whole sales process had gone into final play. There would be no turning back at this point (unless of course they weren’t going to give me a reasonable offer) I had my doubts dealers were going to honor this quote, but at least it started the negotiations. The one thing all dealer responses have in common from the TrueCar quote is that act like they don’t know what the quote is for. All they say they see on their side is that you want a particular model. Maybe this is true. For each response, I continued to stand firm and have them send me in writing that they have exactly the model that was quoted from TrueCar for the price, giving the specs to them repeatedly. The first dealer responded in a matter of minutes. I instantly began trading e-mails with an individual in the internet sales department. After about the fourth or fifth e-mail, I got this: ‘We haven't updated the pricing through Zag/Usaa. Here's the invoice: $17,297. We were offering $750 under invoice. but due to what happen in Japan not able to offer at that price. I can sell $100 over invoice a total of $17,397.’
Classic. I noted that this wasn't even accurate as the TrueCar quote was $1,250 under invoice. Just what I was expectiing based on my past experiences. I replied simply that was unfortunate. I’ll have to either wait or find another alternative. Thank you. Remaining courteous, but concise, in all my communications.
The next morning another dealer responded. This individual from the internet department said they have a few ‘internet specials’ and provided some links to the vehicles. They were not all that enticing after all, with prices much higher than I was quoted. Again, I clearly communicated what I was quoted for and kept sticking to the price. Over the course of an hour, exchanging e-mails it became clear that they too didn’t have the vehicle that was quoted on TrueCar.com for the price (or really anything even similar). But, they did come through with an enticing offer; a 2011 model for about $700 more. I was planning on taking a fairly stripped down version, no packages what so ever, and this came with a vehicle impact sensor, built in blue-tooth (not sure if that is really standard, but it was beyond my expectations), and floor mats (don’t assume anything comes with a new vehicle these days). With a reasonable offer, the salesperson called me on the phone, we confirmed the price and I asked about any other fees or programs I would be subject too. One trick another dealer played on a friend of mine was signing him up for a maintenance program at the dealership in exchange for a better loan rate on a brand new Prius. I wasn’t going to fall for that, especially given the fact that this dealer was across town. He assured me there was nothing else attached to the price other than licensing and registration (in retrospect that was only a verbal promise, and I should have gotten everything in writing). All in all, it put me into a brand new Cube in a color my wife, kids and I all wanted for just north of $16k. Deal.
With a deal in hand, it only makes sense for both parties to close the deal quickly and get on with our day. I was down at the dealership in 45 minutes. A lot sales person approached me instantly with a smile. When I asked for ‘[sales contact] in the internet sales department’ that smile quickly changed and he curtly took me straight to the sales office. My deal was with that specific sales person, and I wasn’t going to deal with anyone else. I even brought my 5 year-old son with me which wasn’t too bad. He sat through it like a champ and got to check out some awesome Z cars on the dealership floor room. We first took a quick look at the vehicle. I mainly did a quick look around for any glaring issues (scratches, dents, etc.) and we did a quick test drive. I only wanted to drive it around the block to see that it runs. It had 7 miles on the odometer. Inside, it was about an hour of paperwork and waiting. I forgot to bring in my insurance certificate from the car, so I had to go back and get that. The only major upsell attempt was an extended warran