Buffalo Mailbag: Buying

By Dan Allen

Buffalo News

I’ve arrived in Buffalo, and with that come some basic questions about the store’s inventory.

First of all, can I use the automatic outlet to go back to my 1993 Firebird without service? The Infiniti logo right in the middle of the blue plastic bay door is heavy enough to keep the door open.

Second, is the no-quibble money-back guarantee for exchange or refund valid for the upgrade package I purchased as well? I seem to recall only being given the optional A/C package for free.

Finally, the price of everything in the small used car department is set at a ridiculously low figure. Is this so low that the entire operation can be left to the salesperson and nothing else?

An occasional Ottawa Citizen reader delivers his insights to car inquisitor Dan Allen:

Strayer, I’m going to tell you everything that I am doing with the car is very bad.

The A/C is supposed to last 10,000 miles, but it was only on for two. If I think I’m getting too hot or too cold, I pull up to the switch, put the extension cord back in the glove compartment and turn the A/C on, get my A/C up, and then close the switch again.

I’ve even tried to shut it off while it was on. It hasn’t worked. My cleaner, after seeing the heat/cooler combinations, has been trying to stick the wall socket into my deck vent so that I can turn off the A/C. He’s making a laughingstock of me.

I really don’t know what to do. The car I bought is a ’93 Firebird with 82,000 miles, and I’ve had it five months. I bought it on the Internet, and the salesman at a dealership found it and called me. Now he’s trying to keep it in service and says that I need to have the car checked at another shop. Do you know a good dealer?

I’m sorry, but a one- or two-star car with 82,000 miles? What kind of owner do you think I am?

You sound helpless, and I can relate. The salesman at the Buick dealership I bought my current car from was responsible, if I recall correctly. But I sure can’t fault some of the mechanics there.

Don’t drive this thing anymore. The tires on the Sports’ in 30k are well below the proper specification, so we can’t even get them rotated anymore.

I don’t even know who to thank for this.

God forbid it breaks. The International’s ABS seems to be working, but it’s not stopping all the scraping on the sidewalk. I’d tell Buick that the only way you could have mentioned the ABS was if I thought it was broken. But if I’d known the car was good and we could have bought it knowing that?

Apparently, so. At least the dealer is now backing you up with the ’93 Firebird option that was part of the offer.

The salesman at the car was all over that car the first time I talked to him, but you came back only with a Heritage option. He treated you well, it seems. I just never imagined you would end up buying a Heritage after all the effort. But if anyone’s got your back, it’s a salesman at the car dealership.

A dealership’s reputation is built on customer service. They want to think they can walk away, but you don’t want to let go of the car.

I don’t like my car anymore. My choices are: Buy one or something a little better. I’m concerned that I’m not going to be able to buy something better unless my buyer’s remorse makes me abandon the car again and make another purchase.

I’m getting hotter than the car, even in winter. I’ve driven it many times with the door open to get an air conditioner into it when I thought it wasn’t too hot. I don’t really know what to do anymore.

If you’re a person who travels a lot, you’ve likely already learned this lesson: be patient.

The reliability and salesmanship of a used car salesman will change as the relationship changes. Customer satisfaction changes that much faster. And company loyalty is not strong, anyway.

When purchasing a used car, my advice to all car buyers is:

First, do a little research. If you’d like, call the car dealer to see how much the dealer has used the car.

Second, check with another part of the car supply chain. If you can, print out parts on a safety-approved tag from the 3M Web site or local repair shop.

Third, keep a close eye

Leave a Comment