Sales professionals are no match for ‘Mr. Negotiator’

The last word about dads on Father's Day

My spouse just bought a new truck. The reason? His old truck
(2003 model) just rolled over 100,000 miles and he claimed I
wouldn’t ride in it anymore. Correction: Years ago, I said I’d
taken my last long trip in our FORMER truck, a late ’80s model Ford
Bronco.
My spouse just bought a new truck. The reason? His old truck (2003 model) just rolled over 100,000 miles and he claimed I wouldn’t ride in it anymore. Correction: Years ago, I said I’d taken my last long trip in our FORMER truck, a late ’80s model Ford Bronco. That old workhorse had seen more than 200,000 miles and had twice broken down while driving through the hottest locations in America.

Yes, my sense of adventure runs thin when a transmission goes out in Jean, Nev., or when suffering any sort of vehicular breakdown in Barstow. I tend to wilt in 120-degree temperatures. So although I hadn’t yet taken the stand of refusing to ride in our truck due to its advancing age, I am happy that we now have an awesome new truck with lots more room and a lot less miles. Even if my spouse sort of sugarcoats what he plans to do by making it about me. I’m just saying. But mark my words: most “significant others” of the female persuasion will tell you that when it comes to trucks and the American male, the call of Extreme Negotiation is a hard phenomenon to ignore.

So the original plan was to purchase a previously owned vehicle. Let “the other guy” take the big, hard-knock hit of depreciation, right? And while we’ve mostly had good luck with used vehicles, there’s always the chance that the last guy who owned it was a teenaged male with a lead foot and a death wish who fancied himself the Mario Andretti of Hard Driver High School’s Puberty Patrol.

And so it was the other day that in the innocent act of preparing lunch I witnessed Mr. H. on the phone with an unknown party. The part of the conversation that I heard left little doubt that the male hunter had spotted his prey, and he was closing in for the kill.

Now I don’t know about you, but there are many things I’d rather do than negotiate a deal for a vehicle such as reclining on a hill full of fire ants. Fortunately, I had other commitments that afternoon, and I went on my merry way. By the time I arrived at the dealership, a good portion of the negotiations had already taken place. I was introduced to the salesman, a friendly soul, and next we’d meet the sales manager who would continue this journey through the more hazardous negotiation waters. My spouse was working on a couple of “upgrades,” and the big guns were about to arrive.

You may recall the old school method of previously owned (a.k.a. “used”) vehicle negotiations. It employed the “good cop/bad cop” technique. The buyer made his final offer to the nice salesman who would then ostensibly traipse off to the nether regions of the dealership to receive a thorough rear end chewing by the “sales manager,” a character I imagined as an oily individual with a short, fat Stogie lodged between his yellow teeth who was the “Decider” in the bottom line department.

Well. You may banish that thought immediately. In our salesman’s absence a trim, youthful sales manager greeted us. No cigar and yellow teeth here, no-siree-bob, although I did get the feeling he might have been an avid disciple of the “Swim with the Sharks Without Being Eaten Alive: Outsell, Outmanage, Outmotivate and Outnegotiate Your Competition” school of thought. I’m just saying.

After some tense minutes of numbers being flung back and forth where I attempted to roll my chair further from the negotiation table and closer to the door and the safety of the parking lot, I knew this mano-a-mano give and take was far from over. “Do you want me to LOSE money on this deal?” the sales manager asked my spouse incredulously. “Yes!” announced my husband happily.

But the negotiations eventually bore fruit with one caveat. We insisted our mechanic give the prospective vehicle a once over. Mind you, this is the mechanic we’ve entrusted with our vehicles for more than 27 years, and to us his opinion is gold. I mean, if Smitty told us we’d get better gas mileage by adding bat urine to the fuel tank, we’d add bat urine to the fuel tank. But Smitty would never ask us to do such a thing. That’s the point.

It turned out the vehicle had a mechanical glitch, and we wanted out. So in stepped our nice salesman who found us a brand new truck and a deal we apparently couldn’t refuse. Not that I was around to watch any of it. Nope. I’d found a different place to sit. On the sofa at my daughter’s house. Holding my new grandson. I was leaving all that negotiation fun to the experts.

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