I have had a long undulating love hate relationship with car ownership. That may have come to a screeching halt recently when I bought a new car and sold my old car in one day, without leaving my house! (sort of, kind of)
I love cars.
The Nash Rambler that I could have purchased for $1400 at the end of the best job I ever had in the film industry, the period car coordinator on Desert Bloom.
The dash of my beloved 2005 VW Passat with a way-ahead-of-its-time first generation ipod integration.
And of course I have been restoring my fathers 1967 Peugeot 403 for about 20 years and hope that my kids will learn to drive on it as I did. (sometimes I am not so hopeful)
The first car I purchased with my own hard earned cash was a 1994 Honda Civic. I got it from a dealer here in Los Angeles after reading as much as I could (pre-or at least text only AOL 1.7 internet) on how to be the hardest dude on the block when it comes to purchasing a car at a dealership without hassle. The rules were:
- Speak only to a floor manager (he does not have to have a commission attached to the sale).
- Demand to see the dealer’s pink slip and destination charges on the car (basically, exactly what the dealer needs in order to break even).
- Offer $150 over that and if they balk, walk out the door.
I did all those things and it was far from pleasant, during the negotiations it felt like I was in some horrible prison awaiting my sentencing,
These days I the use the power of an auto broker (they charge a flat $300), I make one or two phones calls, one fax, a couple of emails and boom, the car of my choice, at the best deal I could ever get is delivered to my doorstep when I want it. I sign and I am handed the keys, period.
On the flip I have always resorted to Craigslist (or the like) for sales. Though I have had no specific horror stories regarding car sales, I pretty much hate Craigslist because it is trolled by the craziest weirdos I have ever had the unpleasant experience of dealing with. True wackos on that joint.
So, I decided to try this new startup called Shift. Based out of San Francisco and recently starting service in Southern California.
Shift sells your car for you. They do a free mini evaluation of your car and give you a ball park idea of what they hope to get as a sale price. If you decide to go the next step they take your car away, along with your title and and do a full inspection and return a guaranteed sale price as well as higher price that they hope to get. Anything above the guaranteed price is split 50/50 between me and Shift. I did the initial evaluation and the price they were talking about was better than anything I was seeing for my make and model listed online.
The next part was the hardest. How does one feel confident in handing over a car and title with nothing to show for it in return. When I asked this exact question the representative he was very matter of fact, understanding my trepidation. “We suggest you look at our Yelp and Facebook” ratings, which basically means nothing. Luckily for me I have a good friend who is a private investigator so at least I could feel confident that there is no pending litigation on Shift, so I decided to move forward.
The way they compensate your worries is by keeping you constantly updated on what is happening to your car. I was quite impressed with the updates and photos and the listings they had done on five auto selling websites (including Craigslist!). Shiny fancy photos, it all looked pretty good to me.
Over the next few weeks my confidence drained a bit as the updates seem pretty meager, “Three people inquired about your car this week!”. It just started to feel like it ain’t gonna happen, but the bottom line is that Shift’s guaranteed price was totally within my range of acceptability.
And then blam, lust like that, the car sold. Not only had it sold, but it sold for the high estimate, all the sudden I had a few extra bucks in my pocket and I felt good about it.
So, like I said I kinda sorta bought and sold a car in one day.