Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Buying a Car, Now and Then

Bought a new car yesterday (the reason I didn't post Monday or Tuesday). It's the first one since October, 1990. As I waited for the paperwork yesterday I thought about the differences. (My memory of 1990 may not be totally reliable.)
  • Dealership--it changed ownership and is in a new building. It now claims to be the biggest Toyota dealer in a wide area.
  • In 1990 the showroom had 3-4 cars on display, yesterday none. Does that mean the sales experience is less about flash and glitter?
  • In 1990 the showroom had 4-5 white salesmen standing around, yesterday maybe 10 salespersons, mostly male, mostly, maybe even entirely minority, sitting at desks in the "showroom". (At the other dealership I went to in my shopping, the two salesmen (used and new cars) were both minority.) The minorities represented all the continents, except Antarctica. Management may not have been as integrated as the sales/finance staff. I wonder whether such sales jobs aren't particularly attractive to people who are aggressive, work long hours, have people skills. As such, they may be one of the ways for the upwardly mobile to bypass the need for credentials (i.e., college degrees).
  • In 1990 my purchase started by walking in the door, in 2006 it started with an Internet search and query.
  • In 1990, my salesman stumbled in using the computer terminal, yesterday every salesperson had a PC and seemed reasonably proficient (though I did see one guy about 50 typing with 2 fingers).
  • In 1990 I consulted Consumer Reports and still felt at a loss. In 2006 a salesperson printed out data from Edmunds to compare the Honda and Toyota I was considering. He was open about the change in the power balance between salesman and buyer because buyers have access to lots more information now.
  • In 2006 there was more paperwork, including more concern for identification and consumer rights and information.
Of course, the biggest difference was in the car I was buying.

1 comment:

Tim Abbott said...

What a cliffhanger! What did you drive away with?