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10:54 a.m. - August 16, 2006
Buy A Car! Pretty Please? With Sugar On It??
I know it’s tough to be a commissioned salesman, and I know people are just doing their job, but sometimes you gotta wonder.

A couple of months ago, we received a postcard from the Honda dealership up in Lafayette, stating that if we went up to visit their dealership on a certain Saturday, we could win $30,000 in cash, and everyone would win a prize.

Most of the time, we just throw that stuff out. Both of our cars are Hondas, and both are paid for, thank you. We don’t need any debt at this time. However, Liz and I both realize that soon, when Kristin becomes older, we will need to move up from my CR-V to a larger vehicle in order to transport kidlets, kidlet accessories, and friends and teammates of kidlets hither, thither and yon.

So Liz had a plan. Now Liz is the one that has her feet on the ground for the most part, while I’m the one reaching for the stars (so combined, we DO what Casey Kasem implored us to do every week on America’s Top 40) so this was a bit out of the ordinary for her.

She would go up to Lafayette to visit the dealership, and check to see if we won the 30 large. And instead of taking the money and running, we’d immediately turn that money over, and along with the trade in of the CR-V, get a brand new Odyssey. We both thought the Element was fine and dandy, but an Odyssey would really get the job done.

So she went, and of course, she had to give them all kinds of information before she could check her number to see if she had won. She also talked with a sales lizard about the Odyssey, but basically said, “I am just browsing. I do not think I will be buying a car for another two years. This is a recording.”

Needless to say, we didn’t win the money. Oh, we got some cheap-ass barbeque tools, which we promptly gave to our church yard sale.

Within a couple of days, it started.

We got postcards.

We got emails.

We got phone calls.

All basically saying the same thing: “How can WE put YOU in that new Odyssey?”

Well, Liz has been polite with them. The time or two that she talked to someone, she firmly, yet politely, said that we weren’t going to consider a new car for a couple of years, at least.

Still, it doesn’t stop.

Now, this dealership is just one part of a veritable phalanx of car dealerships for Ol’ Bob Rohrman. In Lafayette, he has about 219 dealerships (or so it seems) and he also has dealerships in Indianapolis and suburban Chicagoland.

When I worked at the local radio stations, he bought a lot of time. His commercials were always one minute long, and always were inane, featuring him and a chicky babe who was the stereotypical ditzy female new car buyer. On TV, if you have seen his ads, he looks like a squished frog with glasses and a skeevy moustache.

He looks like he’s a huckster, a snake oil salesman. He reminds me of the salesman pushing the magic elixir in “The Outlaw Josey Wales”. Remember him? Clint Eastwood hocks a big tobacco loogie on his white suit.

Anyway, this has been going on for a while, and then the other day we received a phone call.

Our ‘account’, it seems, has been transferred over to another salesman, and this new salesman will be ‘servicing’ our ‘account’.

Well, wouldn’t that mean that we’d have to BUY something there first in order to have an account.

Yes, they are our nearest Honda dealer. But our old dealer was nice and fair to us, and didn’t try to screw us in service repairs, and it’s less than an hour away.

And the salesman at that dealership moved to another Honda dealership in Indianapolis. He was always a good guy – never with the hard sell – and fair. We could easily go to him as it’s less than an hour away.

We’ve never got the hard sell from either place, just a mailing once in a great while, nothing else. No full court press when we have said we were just browsing.

The contrast is pretty clear, as Liz also checked out a Kia Sedona up there and that dealership hasn’t bombarded us with calls and postcards and smoke signals and Aldis lamp transmissions.

It makes you stop and wonder if we want to go up there when we buy a new car.

Sales lizards of the world, I know you have a tough job, and I know I couldn’t do the job you do. It’s not in my nature. But please, when someone says WHEN they may be interested in buying something, DON’T keep bugging them every three days when that time is measured in years, not months.

The commission you lose may be your own.


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