Whew, what an arduous process it has been. Between finding the “right” car, getting finance, and dealing with sneaky salesmen, this experience has left me slightly overwhelmed and a little more wary of The Real World.
I have always wanted to drive an automatic, but they’re quite difficult to come by. I was on a limited budget so the only two viable options were the Polo Vivo 1.4 Trendline Tiptronic or the Kia Picanto EX and both were out of stock. In the end, I settled for a Polo Vivo 1.4 Trendline (manual), and figured I should get an automatic once I’m comfortable with driving stick.
I went to the dealership to get a quote and it was much more than anticipated. It turned out that
1) The salesman had given me the “Dealership Price” for the optional extras (central locking, alarm and radio) as opposed to the “Factory Price”. The difference was significant so I requested him to give me the factory-installed price, which he did.
2) The cost for the service plan was different to what was shown on the VW website. The salesman claimed the website listed the VAT-exclusive price for the service plan… except the website had clearly said “All prices are VAT inclusive”. It came to be R2000 more.
3) He also charged me ~R3000 for “admin” fees, which I thought was a bit much so I decided to buy the car in Kimberley rather. (Funny enough, shortly after I left, he emailed me with a sweet “Let me know if things don’t come right in Kimberley. I can even get you a better deal…) Ha! I have a strong dislike for dubious personalities so I wasn’t going to give him my money, just on principle.
The salesman in Kimberley had agreed to match the discount that was offered to me by the dealer in Cape Town, and he was willing to charge me R1500 for admin and related costs. I thought, GREAT! I can get my car the first week of Jan! Except… none of the banks were willing to give me finance because I had no credit history and my contract with E&Y was only 3 years so a 5 year finance period was out of the question. If I were to do it over 3 years then the monthly repayments would have become unaffordable. (Article clerks earn surprisingly little for the amount of work that’s expected of us AND the firms get a nice R30 000 deduction per article clerk per year with an additional R50 000 deduction on completion of the training contract. You’d think they’d be more generous but nooooo!)
In the end I had to get it under my mom’s name and Wesbank was willing to finance it over 72 months. At that point, I was getting rather desperate so I didn’t negotiate a better interest rate – I just accepted the terms. When I went to fetch my car, I was told the red one (which was what I was quoted on) was not available but I could have the silver leaf one instead. Okay, whatever – a car is a car right? After my mom had signed the paper work, I discovered the invoice they sent to the bank was different to the quote that was given to me. WTF? Isn’t this all kinds of illegal? Maybe not, but it’s definitely unethical. How could they quote me one price then charge the bank another WITHOUT TELLING ME?
As it turned out, they had left out the service plan and the rationalization was that the silver leaf car came with a metallic colour as well as 14″ mags – both of which I didn’t need or want – and that was the set-off. The dude, let’s call him Mark, made up some crap excuse about how if he had included the service plan the car would have become unaffordable… except my mom was the applicant now, not me. There would be little reason for the bank to reject the application.
After threatening not to buy the car from them they eventually agreed to add the service plan, as per the original quote. To top it off, the dude made me give him a 10/10 for his performance rating. What a cheek.