Saturday, April 15, 2006

CASH FOR CARS!

The PennySaver ad said “running or not”…”we pay for junk”. I hate to think of our old clunker, a ’94 Dodge Caravan (we’ll call her CARA) as junk but let’s face it, that’s exactly what she was…junk..

Keyword: junk.

Our car selling experience was going to be an adventure, we could tell. Here’s how it began.

I called several places and they all quoted me the same price: $250. Fine, I thought. (Sorry CARA, they only want $250 for you. That’s the best I could do). Steve and I agreed, no problem. We set our FIRST appointment with the company who would ultimately be the recipient of our luxurious heap for Thursday night. I call back to tell them we have a couple of things going on that evening (i.e. Open House at school, baseball game, etc.). They respond with, “We work all hours of the night…you call us when it’s convenient for you.” Fine, I thought. After all the activities were over, I call them back and tell them can we reschedule for Friday instead. They hemmed, they hawed, and they said OK.

So our RESCHEDULED appointment is set for Friday after 6:00 PM. “Slight delay,” they tell me because of the rain. Fair enough, I thought. And so the wait game continues. Here it is now 8:30 PM. Now it’s getting ridiculous. I put off going to Target and to Kohl’s to wait around for someone to NO SHOW? Puh-lease! I call them yet again. “We are sending out a driver now. They’ll be out in an hour!” Fine, I thought. By this time Steve is getting impatient and tells me to call these guys back up and tell them to forget it. We can call another of the many places in the PennySaver. I’m starting to agree with him wholeheartedly.

At 9:30 PM I get a call from “Luis”. He tells me he’s in Los Angeles at a gas station getting gas for his truck and he’d be here in an hour. What the? An hour? C’mon. What were we to do? A little after 10:00 PM I get a phone call. HE’S OUTSIDE. Unbelievable! He’s here!!!

Here’s where it really starts to get good! So Steve and I go outside and show him to CARA. Poor CARA. It’s like the recycle commercials: your tires will probably be reincarnated into smaller tires for some three-year olds’ tricycle with training wheels; the scrapped metal will have new life as trillions of paperclips.

So Luis comes and checks out the car with his handy-dandy industrial flashlight. He checks the interior, front and back seats, back of CARA (she’s missing the whole back seat…Steve removed it to make room for baseball equipment and bags). He checks out the engine, takes out CARA’s dipping stick, smelled the oil. CARA was undergoing an annual exam and a pap smear. She looked sad. We point out the busted window on the passenger side. We tell him that because CARA’s been inoperable for quite a few months, the battery’s dead. Pretty self-explanatory.

Luis tells us that from what he can determine (because he’s a certified car specialist, remember) that he could offer us $125 final offer! Of course he’ll have to phone back to headquarters for them to make that decision.

Murmur…murmur…murmur….beep…beep…(walkie talkie talk)…murmur…murmur…beep…beep.Finally, Luis comes back and hands the phone to Steve and said his boss wanted to speak to him. Here’s how that conversation went:

Junk place: If you put a battery in it will it run?

Steve: Yes, it will run. (Steve began to entertain more of his questions but realized that it was not worth his trouble. He hands the phone back to Luis)

Steve: Tell your boy that he’s full of _hit. You can take your truck and back the hell out. (Too funny. I stood there in complete silence and dumbfounded).

Steve: They quoted my wife $250 for JUNK…. (he slams his hand on CARA’s back window…sorry CARA and says)…here’s JUNK. The ad said running or not… (slams his hand on CARA again)…NOT running. Take your truck and leave. I’m not playing this _hit.” (Luis is scrambling.

Steve: What, do you think I’m an idiot? I know what you’re doing. You think your boy is going to tell me that the car’s worth only $125? You’re out of your damn mind. The ad (quote) said $250 for junk. Here’s junk. Give me my $250. Or get the hell out.

Luis: Sir, I want to help make it better. I’ll give you $250. (They begin their dialog in Spanish.)

After much deliberation, it’s a done deal. $250 it is. What a bunch of crap, if you ask me. This must be a “buying-junk-cars-for-cash” routine. They give you an estimate over the phone, based on EVERYTHING you disclose to them (busted window, dead battery, runs OK, have pink slip, etc.). But what they don’t tell you is once they look over the car, the quote could be less based on their inspection (by their certified inspectors, of course). And the poor consumer is supposed to be grateful to get even that much (in our case $125) and say YES…we’ll take it. That’s a crock! $250 was low already, don’t insult our intelligence and drop the quote lower. We have other places to call so be on your merry little way.

Moral: SELLERS beware.

Or if you want a street-smart, scam-savvy vigilante on your side, call Steve. He’ll get you the cash you were quoted. No frills or gimmicks allowed.

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