The Car Buying Blues, Part Three: The Financials

At the end of Part Two, we had just taken the car for one more quick test drive.  Then we got down to the business of car purchasing, which will forever be my least favorite part of the process.

First, we sat down with our salesperson, who pulled out our original calculating sheet, which clearly said $25,000.  He then told us that his manager wouldn’t approve that number, but he could sell the car for $25,555.  I thought I was going to explode – I absolutely can’t tolerate that sort of behavior.  My husband and I had a little conference and discussed (again) the various cars and their features vs. price.  He still liked this car the best and thought it was still worth the extra $555.  Despite my serious reservations, we decided to proceed with the purchase.  We were quite clear that we were ready to buy, we had a check from Navy Federal Credit Union, and we did not want to dawdle. We filled out some paperwork, and then we sat.  (Or rather, herded bored and hungry children, but normal people would have been sitting.)  We filled out some more paperwork, and sat some more.

To say that the process was unnecessarily time-consuming would be an understatement.  There did not seem to be any organization or system, with random forms arriving, and our salesperson disappearing for large chunks of time, and then more forms arriving.  At no time were we informed of any reason for the delays and disorganization.  We were there well over an hour, with our children becoming antsier (and hungrier) by the minute, before the salesperson handed us over to the finance person.

I will say here that I have never understood the role of the finance person in a transaction that isn’t being financed through the dealership. I have a friend who is a dealer finance guy and I have been meaning to ask him. It seems like more hassle for the customer and no benefit to anyone. If you know, let me know. Please.

Once in the finance office, there were more forms to be completed, and we were shown the invoice on a computer screen.  I was unable to decipher the screen and do the calculations quickly enough, but my husband wrote out the check for the amount stated.  After some more signing, we were given an invoice, where I immediately found an error (in the dealer’s favor.)  The finance person tried to brush over it and was vague when questioned.  “Oh, we’ll take care of that.”  Once pushed, he stated that he would wait until the tags and title were complete, and include the amount we paid over in with any refund from the tax and title fees.

Once dismissed from finance, we wandered around the dealership some more waiting for our car.  I found it rather comical, yet frustrating, that the employees who were so solicitous before the sale refused to even make eye contact once we had signed the papers.  Our salesperson was either engrossed in the gaggle of conversation around the sales desk, or not visible.  Finally, he broke away to tell us that they were giving the car one extra good cleaning, that he would then fill the tank up with gas, and we would go.  And so we waited.

By this point, my anger was fairly visible.  We had been at the dealership for nearly three hours, we had paid more than we were originally told, and there was no sign that anyone was concerned whether we were happy or whether we might actually get our car in a reasonable amount of time.  Finally, our salesperson informed us that the car was thoroughly clean and suggested that he follow us to the gas station so that we wouldn’t have to wait any longer. I have to say, that was a pretty good idea on his part – I don’t know if we could have waited much longer without some sort of incident.

I’d like to say that this was the end of the story, but unfortunately no. You’ll have to check back for The Car Buying Blues, Part Four: The Follow-Up.

Also in this series:

The Car Buying Blues, Part One:  Doing The Research

The Car Buying Blues, Part Two:  The Buying Process

The Car Buying Blues, Part Three:  The Financials

The Car Buying Blues, Part Four:  The Follow-up

The Car Buying Blues, Part Five:  Let’s Just Be Done With It

About the Author

Kate Horrell
Kate Horrell is a military financial coach, mom of four teens, and Navy spouse. She has a background in taxes and mortgage banking, and a trove of experience helping other military families with their money. Follow her on twitter @realKateHorrell.
  • Verus Langham

    If only you’d known of the dealership here in Arkansas that with which I have just concluded a slightly-used vehicle. A 2009 Pontiac Vibe, less than 17,000 miles, loaded in every way and in perfect condition….$12,999. The dealership went out of their way to put me into this vehicle and their after-the-sales decorum was as genuinely respectful as was the initial point of contact-to-sales…..the entire dealership worked in cohesion to ensure I was totally satisfied with the vehicle, then went to work and secured a low interest loan with a credit union meeting my particular needs of a below (certain amount) average monthly payment. Now I am driving a virtual “Kit” (Knight Rider) with OnStar navigation, built-in cell phone, 911, diagnostician, and virtual GPS. Heated rear window and mirrors…..way cool for a disabled veteran – which was the reason for the Superior Automotive Dealership’s staff getting behind me in the first place. Not all experiences turn out like yours….and all my past experiences…there is still hope for all of us military and past military folk.

  • Very frustrating experience. I would have walked out the door the moment they changed the price on me. My guess is they would have dropped the price back to where it was if they truly wanted your business(they only raised it because they thought they could get away with it).

    Good catch on the extra charge on the invoice; You would be surprised how many people don’t catch those extra charges, or believe they are “normal” and should be expected.

    My wife and I are also starting out search for a new (or likely used) vehicle. Your series was an eye opener.