Leisure Suit and Alligator Boots: Reading the Fine Print In Contracts

Leisure Suit and Alligator Boots:  Reading the Fine Print In Contracts

My husband and I were both originally raised in sheltered lifestyles, so when we moved to Seattle, WA, in 2002, we were in for some surprises.  From the annual nude bike ride in the Fremont district to four-star cuisine to snow-capped mountains in June, we experienced countless adventures that rivaled our laid-back former lifestyles.  In one adventure, we were buying a used car at a dealership, and our previous sheltered farm existences were challenged.     

The strings of colorful plastic flags, the signs screaming “Best Deals in Town,” and the dancing blow-up lion enticed us into a used car dealership outside of Seattle.  My husband Mike and I were looking for a cheap second car, and this looked like the best deal in town… . The lion should have tipped us off.

When we parked our car, four salesmen surrounded us like lions on prey.  One man peered through the windshield at me, a Cheshire smile plastered on his hefty cheeks.  Another salesman opened my door for me and purred, “Welcome, Little Lioness.  What can I help you find?”  The other two salesmen zeroed in on my husband, patting him on the back and asking what they could do for the master of our pride. 

Suddenly, the commotion stopped, and the salesmen parted to allow a cool cat to pass.  He sauntered up and assessed each of us, looking us up and down like choice cuts of meat.  Mike and I shivered.

The man lifted his chin up slightly, and the other salesmen fled like cockroaches, trapping other customers in their intimidating welcome.  Adjusting his yellow leisure suit and placing his yellow alligator boot on the front fender of our car, the man spat on the ground while offering his beefy paw to my husband.  “Name’s Lionel,” he said, his gold tooth glinting in the sun.  “Whatcha’ll lookin’ for?”    

Mike explained we were in the market for a second car.  The dealership was offering $79 per month leases, so we were interested in test driving cars in that range.

Lionel smiled, patted Mike on the back and led him to a bank of crappy cars.  I followed, uninvited.  The cars were basic, but we weren’t looking for much.  Lionel explained all of the features on each car, and he would not leave our sides for a second.  We decided to test drive a two-year old Hyundai Elantra that had seen better days. 

Mike got behind the wheel, and Lionel slid into the passenger seat.  I growled at Lionel, but I played along and got into the back seat.  The entire drive, Lionel tried to keep the music on and the windows open, even though it was only fifty degrees outside.  Finally, Mike was able to turn the music off and roll up the windows to find there was a horrible clunking sound in the engine, the windows whistled and shook, and there was a faint smell of ground-in baby poop emanating from the carpet.  We passed on that car.     

We finally found a decent car, but it was really overpriced.  The car was worth $6,000, but the dealership was asking $8,000.  We expressed interest in the car at a lower price, so with a clap of his paws, Lionel had another salesman lead me to a table.  Lionel led Mike out of my sight. 

While Lionel was talking price and terms with Mike, the other salesman, Bill, tried to lure me into a bad deal.  He offered a longer term, which lowered our payments but retained their $8,000 price.  I refused the offer, so he offered me an even longer term with a $7,800 price tag.  I was fed up, so I demanded to see my husband.  I was patted on the hand and led to the waiting area. 

An hour later, Mike stumbled from an office in the far corner of the building, exhausted and mauled.  With longer approval periods, more jumping through flaming hoops, and more aggressive intimidation tactics, Lionel offered Mike the same lengthy terms for the too-high price.  Mike refused all offers, and we slipped through Lionel's paws to the freedom of the parking lot.   

When a lion dresses up a financial contract in kitty cat clothing, be sure you read the fine print and calculate your terms.  What looks like a deal could leave you paying too much for too little.

Photo Source: Ghewgill

MoneyCone's picture

MoneyCone wrote:

Tue, 11/16/2010 - 11:54 Comment #: 1

Don't you hate car salesmen! I bought my first car from a dealer - and vowed never to do that mistake again. All my subsequent purchases have been from private owners.

Money Reasons's picture

Money Reasons wrote:

Wed, 11/17/2010 - 00:59 Comment #: 2

Sounds horrible!

I hate going through the car buying process. That's a great reason alone to drive a car into the ground :)

Invest It Wisely's picture

Invest It Wisely wrote:

Wed, 11/17/2010 - 17:39 Comment #: 3

What a bunch of shady salesmen. This is in part why I generally avoid these used-car lots.

P.S. I love the picture. The people are in the cage and the animals roam free... haha!

Christa Palm's picture

Christa Palm wrote:

Wed, 11/17/2010 - 18:14 Comment #: 4

I never experienced anything like that before or since...of course, I haven't been back to a shady lot since...for good reason! Thanks to all for the great comments and tips!

“Eureka! I Think I’m On To Something&amp's picture

“Eureka! I Think I’m On To Something&amp wrote:

Fri, 11/19/2010 - 08:43 Comment #: 5

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