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November 28, 1998
a year ago

Bargaining Hard

John had made some jokes about setting the cinnamon rolls up in the morning and then coming back when they were raised with a car. We'd decided in the night that the Passat was what we wanted, but not at the price asked, nor, it turned out at the Edmund's price. The CarPoint analysis showed a different price for our part of the country, which seemed a bit more in-line with the price on the window of the car. Even with the excess milage on the car, but it was a diesal, which meant that the engine could well last three times the milage a gas engine would.

But despite all the numbers, the real reason I wanted it was because of the feel of how it drove. Powerful, smooth, comfortably large and roomy and responsive.

Given the numbers, given the book by Dr. Sachs, and the ability to combine the strategy with our knowledge, I made sure John ate breakfast, and I ate breakfast and I also brought a book with me for the periods of waiting we'd likely be doing when we got there and bargained for the price we really wanted. It was cool, having read the book, to know what was going to happen on the most part and figure out what we were going to do and how to do it and what to expect and what to work with and how to work with it.

I mixed up the cinnamon roll dough early, John went out to clear the trench from the pond to the drainage system, and when he got back, I put the dough into the refridgerator to slowly finish the first proof and be cold enough to handle easily when I got back, it would be simpler to roll out the rolls when the dough was stiffer and colder.

It took the entire three hours.

We went in and, first, looked the Passat over thoroughly. Turned out both front and back bumpers had been bumped and bent a little. These are the molded plastic bumpers that are a pain and a half to replace, there were a few dings and scratches here and there, but nothing significant. It definitely seemed safe to drive, still. The bumpers, though, being the molded puppies were going to be a few hundred to replace if we ever wanted to do that. So we estimated our ceiling price down significantly. One thing that surprised me was the color of the car, I'd thought it was black from the previous day and I was prepared to live with that color (which can be too hot in the summer and shows all dirt really well), but it turned out to be this beautiful gunmetal gray, with a slightly blue tinge that was just neat to see. Kinda like a Seattle light-drizzle sky with the tiniest hit of the possibility of blue skies behind the grey clouds.

The bargaining process was entertaining. Mostly because I knew some of what was going on, I think. What still boggles my mind was that, because we knew what we knew, we started out offer $4000 less than their initial asking price. That's a lot of money, and if I hadn't known what I'd known, it seemed a ridiculous offer. Insane. We signed the first, the guy said it was an impossible price, but he'd take it back, and from the book, I knew he always answered that.

The first thing that came back was a drop of about $2000 from the asking price, we went up about $800 on the return. Then the salesman came back and asked us where the heck we'd gotten our numbers and showed us a number from the manager, saying it was the lowest he could go. At the question we brought out the CarPoint print out, and it had pretty much exactly the same number the manager had written. Which got me to laugh pretty hard. We then explained that since the bumpers were damaged and the price on the CarPoint thing was for a car in 'excellent condition' we didn't feel we could pay that price.

So we sent him back with a little hike, of about $150, and this time he took a good twenty to thirty minutes getting back to us. The book had said that it was time to stew and see if they couldn't get us to go higher yet, and I read my Susanne Brockman romance It Came Upon a Midnight Clear, which was about Crash, who was introduced, for the first time in Harvard's Education and had fun with the book. John prowled about until the sales guy came back and asked if we'd take it for $150 more than we'd last offered.

I blurted out, "No."

He laughed, half apologized and said, "Well, all he said was to ask..."

So we got it for $3150 less than the asked for price. Wow. That felt mildly insane, but that's a lot of money to save simply by asking.

I guess it's a lesson in getting what you want by asking for it. I got to drive it home, and I only liked it more, the more I drove it and the more I experienced it and thought about it. Side impact beams, air bags, working seatbelts, all extra nice safety equipment I'm not used to having. On top of that there was a sunroof, a nice sound system, heat!, air conditioning, completely adjustable seats, a locking system that allowed the driverside to lock all the doors or unlock all the doors with one turn of the key, power windows, power brakes, power steering, sweet gearing and a gas tank that takes eighteen gallons and the meter is marked in gallons rather than simply what fraction of the tank there is.

Each detail made me all the more delighted with the bargain.

The cinnamon rolls turned out deliciously. The sourdough scent mixing with the warm sweetness of the cinnamon and sugar and the rich dough turned out really well. Crisp on the outside, tender on the inside and I put plenty of pecans for my own happiness. While they were way late for breakfast on that morning, they would be good for Sunday.

We drove it to John's birthday dinner at Yae's Wok, where his parents, his niece and nephew, Bob and Mai and their son met us for dinner. We'd all wanted to go out for dinner together there for a while, and Mai did the ordering. It was a most excellent dinner, the company was marvelous, and John and I got presents. Bob then did something I hadn't expected but should have, and picked up the bill for the whole meal. We thanked him profusely, tried to pay for some of it, but he was too well trained by his Chinese relations. Drat. We'll have to get them dinner someday.

Then we all spent some time in the parking lot looking the 'new' car over. It was bitterly cold out, so it wasn't that much time, but it was fun to have everyone look it over.

Home again, home again. We took Fezzik out for a walk in the bitter cold and he was jumpy and dancing all over. We hot tubbed after the walk, frozen fingers and toes burning in the hot water for a bit until the warmth soaked deeply in and we relaxed. Sleep was swift after that.

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