Tuesday, September 11

Autotrader.com: the match maker

I posted my 1997 Honda Civic HX on Autotrader.com on Thursday, September 6. It did not actually go online until Monday September 10th due to some technical diffculties (according to their phone rep who was refreshingly polite, i must say). The ad, according to their confirmation email was to post online with 24 hours, but come Sunday morning the ad was no where to be found. It was frustrating too because Customer Service was closed over the weekend (arghh!). I felt i was being cheated 4 out of the 56 advertisement days i paid for. In theory, i easily could have lost many prospects! But instead of moping around about it i decided to actively advertise the car over the weekend and posted "For Sale" signs all over the car (literally). And before attaching the second For Sale sign was posted, two cars had already stopped (Ya literally in the middle of the street...) to inquire about the sale (though they did not seem really interested...). Hmm i might sell the car before Autotrader post my car yet, i thought..

Later on that afternoon, i got a call from a prospective buyer who didn't seem to care too much about the high mileage of the car (which i had not posted on the For Sale Sign) but was focused more on the Selling Price. "How much do you want for it" he asked. Odd because the price is conspicuously all over the freakin Car. I knew then the guy was gonna try to low-ball me. "The asking price is $2900" i firmly stated. He then looked me straight in the eye and offered a decrepit $2000 lol. I'm not even sure you can call that an "offer", an "insult" is more like it. I literally laughed out loud. Weird part is, he is my next door neighbor... idiot!

On Monday morning -- not surprisingly-- my ad was still not up. I called support and was promised just a 3 to 5 hour wait before my ad comes online. Not 30 minutes later however, i got my first call about the ad and something like 8 other inquiries in the next 4 hours. It was kind of nuts! Some of the callers were just kind of shopping around for prices and three seemed very serious prospects-- asking to come down to have a look at the car Right Now! Martha (Santa Monica) wanted to see the car after work but ask no pertinent questions about the car. While she seemed like a serious buyer, i got the impression that she was not a smart used-car buyer-- she just wants a car now! I think those kinds of buyers tend to be problematic so i made a mental note to stay away from the likes of her lol (Told her i was busy for the next few days...). This Erica lady on the other hand (Long Beach) was quite the car buff. She even asked if i kept "Maintenance Records" throughout the cars life, among other smart-car-buyer questions. Of course i've only owned the car for a couple of years... "I do have my own records but not of the previous owner" i informed her. Though that is not saying a lot. She seemed a little discouraged with my response but asked if she could come down to see the car anyway...

I got a couple more calls after her and this time i told them half the truth (That i've got appointments for the car in the next two days-- so i said to call in a couple of days or to check the Autotrader ad for updates). I did not expect any phone calls on the first day you see, much less five people asking to see the car that evening (One guy from Lancaster even...). So much so that i made dinner plans that evening, plans i did not wish to cancel. I asked Erica if she would be willing to come down after dinner, and luckily enough she was okay with it (9ish we agreed...). Besides who wants to drive down the 405 freeway during the day?

I listed all of the minor problems i could think of in the ad (paint chips, scratches, window problems etc...). I think she liked the idea that i was honest. It would probably surprise you to know that online-ad companies provide pre-written and some even tailor-made advertisement scripts designed to bring-in Customers. I tend to think differently. So i ignored all the conventions and listed the car at true face value ($2900) in hopes of dealing with someone who has an implicit understanding of selling and buying used vehicles. Erica and husband was that person. She is just like me in terms of cars; new truck, now she needs a daily driver for the husband. Along with her husband, she inspected the car thoroughly and seemed to have a great deal of knowledge about Hondas (To the point of critical). Aside from the minor problems already stated, the car passed her quasi-expert inspection with good grades. She says the break rotors feel strong and that the motor sounds pretty good at idle. Though she did complain about the ride height and the soft and feeble feel of the clutch. "Well the clutch is new and probably still in its break-in period", i informed her trying so hard to sound educated. She seemed convinced after i showed her the receipt and the warranty (which also included the break and axle jobs i had done...). Then as if to find more faults on the car, she said she did not like that 2nd gear trudged around slow 90-degree corners unlike her 1990 Acura Integra (I felt a haggle coming at that point...). Although that wasn't such a big deal (she claimed) i wanted to offer a somewhat half-intelligent half-educated explanation as to why. Not because i thought it would help sell the car but because i didn't like the fact that she was criticizing my car (Though she probably did not mean to. Maybe she was simply comparing, but still...). I wanted to ya know defend my car. I felt it was being attacked... Ya i was in the midst of selling my car and i found time to debate. "Hmm that's probably because the Integra's gear-ratio is short, whereas the Civic's is a bit longer. Which would make sense because the Integra is a sporty coupe". Kind of a logical theory i think.

"I'll give you $2800, Cash!", she suddenly blurted out... That's an offer... Stupid neighbor!


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