Nearly a week has passed since the events of this story took place and looking back it makes me think that everything ended up exactly as it should have. I’m not a strong believer in fate or anything but I do believe that we regularly take cues from our subconscious thus acting on a strange impulse that sets us on a certain path. It’s not unavoidable, some people squash that little voice in the back of their head or ignore a gut feeling so they don’t have to stray from the straight and narrow. I on the other hand can’t deal with the feeling of “what if?” so I act on those uncertain things and in this case, boy did it pay off. If you haven’t read Part 1 and Part 2 of the story do so now or none of this will make any damn sense.
All caught up? Great.
Now for the final chapter in the epic car buying saga of our time, Adventures In Automotive Consulting: A MkVII Golf For The Lady, PART 3!
So it’s late Wednesday afternoon, my girlfriend and I are thoroughly disappointed with the dealership that shall not be named, she’s decided to pull the plug on the deal with them get her money back. Once she decided that was for sure going that route, I hit the internet and started looking for the right car.
The seed had been planted and she wanted out of her Jetta now more than ever. Having just sold my car I had a dog in this fight as well because I absolutely hated driving the Jetta. The right car had to be found and it had to be found promptly.
Much like Bilbo and the ring of power, I came across the car quite by chance. I’d accidentally left the trim level selector on all trims when I started my search and there it was, right at the top of the page, the closest four door, White on Tan Golf with an automatic transmission was a mere 3 miles away. The catch was that it was an SE and had a list price of $26,035, over two thousand dollars more than the TDI we had made a deal for at _____ VW.
Now this is where most people would have kept on scrolling thinking to themselves, no way is a salesman going to match a deal for a car that’s significantly less, especially when said car is quite popular, having recently won some fancy golden calipers from an industry dinosaur” but damnit I’m not most people. I got hosed on the first new car I got, I had no experience with the process and I got taken to the cleaners. When I came to terms with that I swore I’d never let it happen again, not to me and not to anyone I care about.
I picked up the phone and dialed with purpose, ready to lay it out for whoever I got on the phone with 4th quarter Steph Curry type confidence, it was time to make a god damn deal.
I guess I shouldn’t have been all that surprised, I was familiar with Santa Monica VW and their reputation wasn’t exactly sparkling. However they had the car and I was going to get through to a salesman just to test the waters at the very least. I hit redial, 5 rings and then, “Good afternoon, Volkswagen of Santa Monica how can I help you?” I was in, no turning back now, time to do what I do best.
“Sales department please, I’ve got a deal to make”, I boomed with authority.
“Sure, I’ll connect you”, replied the operator who I assume had one foot out the door.
To be fair it was a little after 6pm and she’d probably had a long day but that didn’t really matter to me, I had bigger fish to fry.
I got Karl (with a K) on the line and wasted no time getting to the point. I’d found the car online, I wanted to know if they could match a deal on a different model and if the numbers were not exactly the same, there would be no deal. Karl told me he thought it was doable, asked if he could put me on hold for a minute while he spoke to his sales manager. I don’t like to be put on hold, especially when it’s in a situation where I feel it’s a sales tactic but the situation called for patience and so I endured a few minutes of MIDI music torture.
Karl got back on the line, told me his sales manager thought the deal was possible as well. That’s not exactly what I wanted to hear, I wanted an outright commitment. I told Karl just that, he said he was going to put his reputation on the line and go ahead and say they would make the deal. Yeah, I know that’s a bit dramatic and a salesman saying they’ll make the deal is only half the battle, a sales manager has to approve it but what can I say? I liked his style and he’d certainly made me feel like it was worth my time and my girlfriend’s time to walk in the door. I told him we could come in at 1pm the next day, he said great and that was that.
After I hung up I have to admit, I was surprised. There seemed to be a real chance of this playing out exactly how I envisioned it, a rare occurrence in life, let alone in the car buying process. I excitedly told my girlfriend that I’d found her a car, it was nicer than what she’d wanted and I thought we had a real shot at getting it for the exact same deal. She was enthused but skeptical, she asked if there were any Golf TSI S models out there, there were not, not in a 500 mile radius. This SE trim level was her only shot at getting a new car anytime soon without adding a considerable amount of labor to the buying process. She’d already been through enough with the whole bait and switch at $%@#* VW, so I wanted to make this as easy as I possibly could. We’d go in the next day, if they couldn’t make the numbers work, we’d walk away, simple as that.
The following morning we headed down to get her money back from ICPFAIC VW, best bro sales guy came in to meet us (even though it was his day off) and asked Sabina if she even wanted to look at the car they brought in for her. She politely declined, he sighed like his firstborn had just come back from freshman year with a nose ring and a wrist tattoo. He told her to get started on some paperwork and that he’d let the finance manager know we were there. I told him I was sorry things didn’t work out, he half heartedly shook my hand and left. You would think I’d just curb stomped the guys puppy or something. There is nothing sadder than a grown man sulking, except maybe a grown man sulking in Globe skate shoes.
After 45 minutes and two inquisitions as to what the hold up was, a finance manager came over and took us upstairs to finalize the refund. He told us how difficult it was to find specific color combinations for Golfs right now and that many people were just ordering 2016 models. Gotta respect the hustle at this dealership, they just don’t quit on a sale. We told him we’d figure things out on our terms and all we wanted was the money back. The cards were swiped, papers were signed and after a little over an hour we were free to go.
We drove straight to Santa Monica, got in the door a little before 1, met Karl (with a K) and got right down to business. We explained we’d just been through this whole process, he apologized profusely, told us he’d do everything he could to make this as quick and painless as possible. To his credit, he really did and for that I am grateful.
So we go out to the car and it’s really nice, right away Sabina is so freaking happy she stuck to her guns on the tan interior being a requirement and I have to agree. I like black interiors but only in certain cars and only if it’s quality leather, cloth or alcantara. Black VW V-Tex just looks cheap and that’s the last thing you want, especially in a compact car. The tan really classes up the joint and makes the cabin feel a little bit bigger and more comfortable to spend time in. We take a test drive while the Jetta is inspected, she loves the pep of the 1.8T, reminds her of the hand me down Audis she grew up driving. She liked the diesel, but she loves the gas and frankly it better suits her needs. We go back to the dealership, she’s happy, I’m happy that she’s happy and Karl is happy that we’re happy. Now we just have to make the numbers work.
My logic was this, if the Golf TSI isn’t selling as well as the Golf TDI and the Golf TDI S is closer feature wise to a TSI SE than it is to a TSI S, then a dealer should be able to discount a TSI SE down to TDI S pricing.
Is all of that exactly correct? No, but I did a damn good job of selling it to Karl and it quickly became clear to me that I knew far more about the automotive market than he did, so I stretched the truth here and there. He went over my numbers again and took them to the sales manager, Ivann.
Karl comes back, tells us that we’re close, really close, he has the payment down to like $325 a month with tax included. That’s $50 above where I’d said it needs to be, I tell him as much, he goes back to Ivann. This time Ivann comes over with a dealer pricing sheet for both the TSI SE and the TDI S that we’d previously been looking at. He explains that part of the problem with making this deal is it’s based on bad numbers from the other dealership. They’d made us an ok deal on the TDI but not a great one. He says he could offer us a much better deal on that car.
I take a deep breath and explain for one final time, Sabina does not want that car, that car as a black interior, it might as well not exist in our universe, it is dead to us, deceased, gone from this world, it is no more.
Well I think ‘ol Ivann the not so terrible got the point because he took Karl and disappeared to crunch some serious numbers. In the meantime another gentleman who quite resembles the Governor from The Walking Dead sauntered over and introduced himself as Billy, the general manager. I thought to myself, “oh hell yeah pimp, they want to make this deal happen, they’re sending in the big guns”. In reality he probably introduces himself to all the customers but I like to think we were getting special treatment.
Anyhow, Billy asks us what car we’re getting today, I tell him the whole story and he perks up, tells us to hold on a minute and he’ll be right back. This is good, I tell Sabina, we’re dealing with the shot caller now. I knew that if this whole deal hinged on any one person, it was the GM.
Billy comes back with another dealer pricing sheet and goes through it with us. They’ve brought the all in sale price down to $23,050. That’s a casual $2,985 off the sticker price for a car that really doesn’t have any room to be discounted. The profit margins on Volkswagens are pretty damn thin so to get that much of a price break is no small feat. I was ready to make a deal, Sabina was not.
$293.48 with tax is a pretty good chunk of change but for a brand new Golf TSI SE, I’d say it’s more than fair. Karl took us back out to the car to go through it again, point out where the added value was in the SE trim so that Sabina had a really clear understanding of just what she was getting for the extra $18.48 over what she’d wanted her monthly payment to be. She already knew it was worth it, I already knew it was worth it but by going back out there, still putting out the we’re ready to walk away vibe, we got asked the golden question, “what can I do to sweeten the deal and make this happen?” Oh how I love that question, it just strokes the ego.
I told him that two extra oil changes (on top of the one included), two details and tinting the windows would result in a bargain well struck. Karl went off to take that proposition to Billy and we eagerly awaited his return. At this point it was around 4pm, we were malnourished and ready to get on our way. If we did in fact make a deal, the whole F&I process still remained but having just been through it two days prior, I assured Sabina we could make quick work of it. While Karl was away another salesman came out, chatted with us, talked about how awesome the Golf was, how much his wife loved hers, “so much better than a Prius bro”, uh yeah, no shit buddy, I thought to myself. I chose not to vocalize my thoughts and just nodded in agreement, we had 3 guys working on this deal, didn’t need a 4th. Lucky for us Karl came back before this other guy got too involved and even better, Karl came back with good news.
Billy had agreed to the oil changes and the details, he couldn’t do the tint because they use an outside vendor so there’s no way for him to include that. Of the three asks the tint would have been the best but we both understood why it wasn’t possible. I looked at Sabina, she smiled her little smile and nodded, we had a deal. I swear I thought Billy, Ivann and Karl were going to throw confetti in the air and hug each other. Instead we all shook hands, Sabina and I thanked them for their efforts, then headed off to the F&I office where she handled shit like a boss. It took longer than we wanted but it was worth the wait, she’d gotten herself out of a base model Jetta early and into a much, much nicer Golf than she’d originally anticipated. Yes, she compromised on the payment amount but it was a damn good deal and having the heated seats, Fender audio system, panoramic sunroof, sport package and other goodies is well worth the extra $887.04 over four years.
Within 30 minutes of closing the deal, we were on our way home in brand new Golf TSI SE, not just the car she wanted but the car she deserved. We went straight to a local BBQ joint and stuffed our faces, then Sabina did the most admirable thing anyone who just got a new toy can do, she went to work so she could pay for that toy. I dropped her off and went to take some pictures of the car, pleased that I was able to negotiate the best deal I’ve ever done and do it for someone I love. That’s the kind of feeling that makes all the shenanigans worth it.
Now, about this APR tune...
Andrew Maness writes about cars because he has one and also has a computer. He’s been known to drunkenly tweet as @thisnicelife and upload photos to @theroadlessdriven. He also has a YouTube Channel and thinks talking about himself in the 3rd person is really weird but knows it’s necessary if he wants to be taken seriously as an automotive journalist.