Sunday, February 27, 2011

Check Your E-mail

When we bought the new car a few weekends ago, we decided to buy and bought the same day. To help that process along, I decided to try out a feature on edmunds.com where you can e-mail local dealers to get an online quote. You select your car and options, and the local dealers you want to e-mail for a quote. Conveniently the site accommodated spur-of-the-moment purchasers like us by allowing you to select when you want to purchase and giving a 'next 24 hours' option.

Since I filled this out about 45 minutes before we left the house to go buy the car, speed in reply was of the essence. All the dealerships had the auto-reply 'we will be contacting you shortly' down, but Inver Grove Honda took things to the next level, actually calling me back within about 15-20 minutes and giving me a quote on the phone and setting up an appointment for us to come look at the car (with it waiting at the door when we pulled up). Richfield Honda was the only dealership brave enough to offer up a quote without calling me first. Unfortunately for them, their quote came in several hours later and a couple hundred dollars more expensive. Next.

Burnsville Honda's response was an even bigger disappointment. They never did e-mail a quote, and didn't even return the inquiry by phone until about 7-8 hours later. On the way to Inver Grove we actually called to try to get the quote proactively. After waiting on hold for a while, and hearing how 'everyone was busy' eventually the general manager gave us a quote for $75 less than Inver Grove. At that point despite Burnsville Honda being much more conveniently located, after all the rigmarole and the only slightly lower negotiating starting point, we just went ahead and did the test drive and purchase with Inver Grove.

So basically Burnsville Honda's slow response to web inquiries lost them a sale. When your only differentiation amongst the other dozen dealers in the same metro area selling identical merchandise is customer service, perhaps you might want to take any inquiry seriously. Even if it does come from a mass-submital form on the web.


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Wednesday, February 16, 2011

New Car

Back in June I posted about the Eck car quandary, where our cars were steadily getting older and older but since thanks to their stellar reliability I was having a tough time justifying replacing either of them, much to Linzy's dismay. After months (years?) of trying to figure out exactly what the right plan was, last Saturday I woke up and decided enough was enough and I needed to start solving the problem.

A few hours of research later and I had figured out what I wanted to do, and started convincing Linzy. And by convincing Linzy I mean I said "I think we should get a new car", and her eyes said "Yeah!" even if she pretended to debate it with me for a bit.

From there it was a whirlwind afternoon of arranging for my parents to watch the boy, heading to a dealership, taking our first and only test drive in many years, and then negotiating a deal. By 3 in the afternoon of the same day, it was all over, in rather anticlimactic fashion as there was little drama in the negotiations. I actually took some uncharacteristic pleasure in the negotiations as the dealer used such cliched negotiation tactics it was funny (and ineffective as far as my bottom line was concerned).

Interestingly, in terms of deciding which car to trade in, we ended up going with the gamble option and replaced the 8 year old but relatively speaking new Altima and kept the 10 year old Pathfinder. The theory is that the Pathfinder is plenty reliable for driving me a couple miles a day to the bus stop, and since we actually like that car and dislike the Altima, it didn't make sense to keep a car we don't like. On the other hand, if the Pathfinder starts breaking down regularly in a few months, I'll have made a very, very expensive mistake as I have no tolerance for unreliable cars.

Regardless, Linzy will now be cruising around town in her shiny new CR-V.

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Thursday, February 10, 2011

Be Vewy Vewy Quiet

DSC_6776A rare sighting of a quiet sleeping baby.

It's been a whirlwind several months here, and despite the fact that I haven't really done anything for quite a while it feels like we have been super busy. Three weeks back we reached the breaking point for lack of sleep and Linzy's dad was nice enough to come down and help out with things for the past two weeks. That's helped tremendously and hopefully over the next few weeks Elijah will start sleeping longer during the night.

Otherwise we haven't been up to too much. With the cold weather we've made many, many more trips to the Mall of America than I ever have in my life, just to get out of the house and walk around a bit. Plus the boy likes to sleep in his stroller after a nice car ride, so if he's particularly fussy walking around the mall with no particular purpose starts to sound pretty good. Of course that's backfired at least once, when we went to the mall for a stroll and came home with an Apple TV and a new video game.

Mainly though, the focus has been on taking care of the boy, work, and sleeping, and not much else. All in all, that's not all bad. Especially when Elijah gives you his big smile and a couple coos.

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