Feb 252012

A Driving Force

Because I forgot to include it in part 1, Here is DS’s
Jugend Forscht Swag.

Alright.  So, when last we left our merry adventures Stephanie was doing her Lucy impression, Little Blue had been pronounced a Dead Parrot, but there were those among us who were hoping that news of its demise was premature.  And, David was preparing to take a co-worker down to the auto dealer to see what could be done….

The Demise of Blue

Little Blue was dead: to begin with.  There is no doubt whatever about this.  Little Blue was dead as a doornail.  This must be distinctly understood, or nothing wondrous may come of the story I am about to relate….

My apologies to Dickens, but, there you have it.  Blue. Doornail. Dead.


Well, crud.  We take a beat to accept this fact, and then move on.  But, we realize that obviously we are still complete Newbs when it comes to German autos.  And, we still aren’t entirely certain if we may have been snookered- or if so, by whom.  So, David wrestles down his typically over-developed sense of Independence, and resolves to ask for help.

Buying a Car in Germany.  Step One: get yourself a friendly lawyer…..
First thing Monday morning David catches one of the execs at the company and walks him through The Story of Blue, from the wild trip with Vladimir to make the purchase from the Russian auto dealer back in May, all the way up until Blue’s complete collapse last week.  The exec listens to David’s story and then immediately suggests utilizing the assistance of- the company lawyer!  Woot!  Marc, said lawyer, is a bright and personable fellow with whom we have had nothing but positive interactions. So, David is quite relieved and pleased by this turn of events.  He once again runs through the entire saga for Marc’s benefit and we dutifully gather up all the paperwork we have in our possession.  Marc conveys that he suspects that the original gentlemen who sold us the car were the ones being shady.  There is a small chance we may have some recourse there, but the main thing now is to get us a car that works.  He offers to go down to the dealership with David later that day to see what is what and act as a knowledgeable translator.

Long story short, if you find yourself having to negotiate tricky and confusing business issues in Germany, bringing along a bi-lingual German lawyer makes a heck of a lot of sense!  The first day they basically established that, yes, Blue was dead and Yes, the dealership would likely give us a good deal should we purchase our next car from them.  They talked over potential options and ran a lot of numbers.  After going over various scenarios in detail, it actually turned out that through a quirk in German financing combined with incentives that the dealer was offering, purchasing a New Car (tm) might actually be less expensive in our case than going with something used.

Next, David and Marc went to see a friend of Marc’s who works at the Audi dealership down the street for a sanity check.  He confirmed that the suggested offers by the VW dealer sounded on the up and up, and were, in fact, better than he could do for us.  So, hooray for due diligence.  They agreed to meet back at the dealer on Wednesday to arrange specifics.  At that point our intention was to purchase a factory-built car to our specifications.  So, David and I obsessed over specifics on the web site that night.  (So much so that we completely blitzed going to my PT appointment… Whoops!) There were really only a few features we cared about, and a couple others we liked.  Bare bones- but new and reliable- was fine.  Once it was clear we were doing business, the rental car became a non-issue, so we were able to get everyone where they needed to go while we worked through the specifics. 

I will let David pick up the story on Wednesday:

Ok, we went in and talked to the new car guy in question.  He was happy to see us and sat us down and started rolling right away.  Asked if I know what I was looking for, so I pulled out our printout and my list and said “basically that”.  The printout actually proved to be too hard for him (since it lists _every_ option whether it is standard or not), but my list was easy, so I just listed off stuff that was nonstandard and he config’d from there.  He upsold us on a ‘match’ package that included a bunch of the features we wanted plus a bunch we didn’t really care about but that were positive (mirrors, windows, climacontrol, usb port, etc…). End result was an ok price anyways, which was in the ballpark.  Worked out the whole thing and Marc asked him for a printout so he could show the quote to other dealers. I also said that although the price was in the ballpark, that I would only consider the whole price meaning it needed to deal with the repairs, rentals, etc… as part of the package when making my decisions.  Ok, this would take longer he said since he’d have to negotiate it, also I wanted to know when we could get the car in question.

He promised to research availability and go talk to the other groups and work stuff out.  Could he call us later and make another appointment?  Ok, we can do that.

Went back to work, and got a call from the dealer there.  He said oh no, it wasn’t going to work after all because the car rental was from June which was too expensive.  Oh dear.  I tried to explain to him that I had only had the rental car for a week or so, but it was a fuzzy conversation.  I let him talk to Marc.

Turns out he just meant the new car would not be available until June, which was too long, but that they had a couple cars in stock that were quite close that maybe we could work something out on.  Uh huh, here comes the bait and switch.  Ok, we can consider them.  Eye roll.  Show me the options and give me the numbers and we’ll see.  We’ll be in at 4.

Went in at 4 and gave him the evil eye.  He said he had two cars that had the same feature set and rambled on about how it had X, Y, and Z feature included (particularly stuff that was part of his upsell) and I pointed out that the actual features I cared about were this and this, and that anything else may be perfectly pleasant, but wasn’t something I planned to spend money on.  He showed me the details on the first car after which I said ok, what does it cost, and he cringed a bit and quoted me a price which was much higher than before.  I pointed out that this was a lot higher than before and he said no no wait, and promised it wouldn’t be the final price and that we should go look at the cars.

Oh also these aren’t NEW from the factory, they’re “germanword” which means they’ve been driven from the factory and been on the dealer lot since then.  Basically showroom cars.  This is apparently less cool than new from the factory, but still counts as new for resale.  Car #1 for example has 29 kilometers on it.  I think they thought I would care, but after checking with Marc, no, the only person it would actually matter to is me, so that’s a German thing.  I noted it as an ‘oh I see’.

We went out and saw car #1 – a sporty trim black VW comfortline with automatic transmission and pretty much the same feature set we have in the rental car.  It has bigger tires (not the year round ones unfortunately), the dual climate control, radio with media adapters, lights, and various fancy stuff.  Basically a bit better than the completely bottom of the line one we’d been shooting for, but as I said, more expensive.  I said yeah, looks nice, but more expensive.

We then saw car #2 – clearly the lesser vehicle, a grey VW comfortline with some of the stuff the other one had, but just all around less of everything.  It did have the auto-park though where you let go of the wheel and let it park itself.  Ewww.  It was 500EU less but lacked the dual climate control, media setup, and just a whole lot of goodness.  So the decision between the two cars was easy.  But, the grey one was obviously not the right choice, which I assume is why they showed it to us.

Ok, went back inside with my give me no shit look (Marc was clearly enjoying himself too much) and said so it’s clear that you’ve exceeded where we started here, and like I said, it still has to deal with the repair work, rental, etc…  So put it all on paper and show me where you’re at.

At this point he wrote it all out and made an offer of the whole shebang for XXk – the better car, the repairs, the rental, etc…  At the 1.9% financing deal (which was what makes new cars work better), Xk or so residual after 4 years, the 4 year full service contract (covers all servicing except stuff that wears out through normal use – so you still have to pay for new tires / breaks unless they are defective rather than worn).  End price – X EU / month.

Fine.  I can do that.

So we then spend a long time of him pitching us, talking about the work to make arrangements for everything, how cool such and such was, yadda yadda.  Marc finally leans over and says – “You know, I don’t know if its just a language thing, but this guy apparently has no clue that he could have closed the deal half an hour ago.”  I say “Yeah, perhaps we should just tell him.”  So we do.  If he can deliver exactly what he has described – everything dealt with at the price we agreed, then we’re good to go.

He seems a little surprised to find this out, but promptly regains his composure and calls his boss over.  I was worried there might be shenanigans but mostly the boss was just helping do lots of complicated paperwork with the lender to deal with the fact that I’m an international buyer.  Whole transaction is fine and friendly, they do it as described with no surprise costs, and work out all the paperwork.  Questions come up occasionally but nothing unreasonable, and the credit check comes back positive, since I do in fact have a German residence, bank account, employer, etc.. to vouch for me.

Marc reads all the contracts which are pretty ordinary stuff, and after I make sure everything is taken care of, I sign them.  We need to bring some stuff in in the morning (2 pay stubs, passport, the insurance confirmation asap though I doubt we’ll have that by morning) and we should be good to go later in the day.

Back to me…
And, that is exactly what we did!   Well, almost.  David spent most of Thursday jumping through all the German hoops (registering the car, getting plates, etc)- actually, it took so long that we had to take another German Paperwork Day off work.  Once he got that all in, the dealership said they would need another day before they could release the car.  Apparently there is a requirement that the car undergo a complete inspection before it can leave the lot.  Since we had to be at Jugend Forscht when it would be ready, we couldn’t pick it up until this morning.  
But, without further ado, I am happy to introduce, the fabulous, the wonderful- please put your hands together for a polite welcome of- The Paris Family’s New Car!!!!  (We haven’t agreed on a name, yet, but I am leaning toward Lola)….
David, his main salesman and the sales manager, Far less slimy feeling
than the ones we have done business with in the states

Lola getting accustomed to her new parking spot,
with the mosquito bush to keep her company.
That is the cup holder in front.  The thing in the middle is adjustable and
removable-it serves as a bottle opener… for your Car Beer.  I am not joking. 
The VW guys sheepishly told me it is a Bavarian thing 😉

The dash.  The middle display will tell you everything from your fuel
efficiency to the current population in Beijing, I think. 
And, it is able to be set to English!
As far as pointless accents go, it isn’t a bad one!

A picture for the Wheel People. 
Apparently the Potenza moniker is a thing?

The kids discover the car hiding in our usual spot.
DD does not like the New Car smell

Put em up!  (there is plenty of room in the back, thankfully!)
Lots of room between the kids- and a pulldown arm-rest for enforced separation!
We were really excited by the media dock since it is supposed to be able to
play ipod, but it doesn’t seem to work with mine.  Could be it is because mine
is old, or from the US or there could be a bug.  Not a make or break, but
still a little disappointing.

The Cockpit (this is from when it was still on the lot- you can
tell they hadn’t vacuumed, yet!)

Hee!  It has a sunroof.  We had joked about getting one of those.  Nice :-)

Radio. Media. TP.  TP- really?  Gosh this car does everything!
(you can also see the dual climate control- complete with:
Seat Warmers, Woohoo!)
So, there you have it.  No clue what next week holds, but I will let you know when we get there!

  2 Responses to “What a Difference a Week Makes, 168 little hours (2 of 2)”

  1. double awesome possum! besides lola, what other names are you considering?

  2. Well, the license plate is “OGRZ 663” so, we were thinking of things that have to do with Ogres. But, she is really too sleek for that. Still brainstorming a bit.

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