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June 2010 Archives

June 3, 2010

a quick poll

I'm not sure how many of you readers are men, but if you are or you know the answer anyway please let me know.

I'm looking at buying a new vehicle. So in order to get the best price, I e-mailed several dealers in my area with the model information of what I wanted and the option/package level desired and asked for quotes.

I instantly got feedback in the form of phone calls and multiple e-mails. but the first question that all of them asked me was this: What color are you interested in?

now, is this because I'm a woman or is this because its something I didn't specify? because there are several things I didn't indicate, like my timeframe for purchase or if I needed financing or several other details.. but maybe this is an important thing to figure out first. Any opinions?

June 6, 2010

little woman, biiiiig truck!

ok - so I bought an SUV (a small one, but that's kind of splitting hairs at this point).

Anyway, its been a strange road of car ownership that started with an old faithful mitsubishi galant, then a VW GTI that was riddled with service issues, to a honda civic hybrid that I named 'mystic shadow', and now finally a Rav4.

I've initially dubbed it 'blue bunny' but the loml says that is too girly or something.. we'll see. but whatever it gets named, I love that thing already.

however, I suspect other people may not love it so much.. mainly the other drivers behind me. The thing is, I'm so used to driving my hybrid with an eye on increasing the mileage, that I still drive that way in the SUV. Which is ridiculous. I'll be lucky to hit 22 on that thing in the city. but still, I keep driving the speed limit on small roads (mainly because I'm afraid I'll sideswipe something, like a deer or mailbox), and perform slow acceleration and decelerations while on the main roads. again, with the crazy. I have a V6.

but its only been a couple of days, maybe I'll become one of those crazy SUV drivers with an overblown sense of entitlement. In the meantime, I just keep singing "little woman, big truck!" to myself.

June 9, 2010

What I think I learned...

So I recently bought a Toyota RAV4. And I love the car. but, like most of us, I did not love the buying experience. So just to set my mind at ease, here is a summation of my experience.

  1. Selecting the vehicle: I went around to three dealerships looking at small SUVs and test driving them. I also looked at all the features and do-hickeys to see what I absolutely wanted.

    Winner: Me. I went during a weekday afternoon when the dealers had zero traffic and made it clear I was just looking around. I got a bunch of information for a small time investment.

  2. Negotiating the price: I used edmunds.com to estimate the MSRP on the thing and then e-mailed 5 local area dealerships.

    Winner: Me - sort of. I used the automated e-mail service on edmunds.com but it didn't let me customize the e-mail. This resulted in an extra round of negotiations to get the price I wanted since everyone initially just sent me a "best price" instead of responding to me saying "This is the price I want".

    Lesson: send your own damn e-mail so you control exactly what it says.

  3. Negotiating the trade-in: I got a quote from carmax before going into the dealership so I would have a comparison price. I believe I did a great job negotiating the price on the RAV4, which meant the dealer was really out to recoup on the trade-in price. In the end, I wound up settling for the same price that carmax offered.

    Winner: The dealer but I don't know what else I could have done besides selling the car independently, which is a hassle that I wasn't looking for.

    Lesson: I don't know, maybe I should have refused to trade-in the vehicle? If someone knows the answer, please tell me!

  4. Financing: Since Toyota is busy killing people with their problems, I got fantastic financing.

    Winner: ME, totally 100% the winner!

  5. Dealer Add-ons: Well, this one really chaps my ass to admit. I totally went for the paint/upholstery/undercarriage sealer etc.. protection package. I do need/want these things for my lifestyle but was the cost worth it?

    Winner: The dealer. The truth is that I could have applied a lot of this stuff myself for cheaper.

    Lesson: DO NOT buy the dealer auto-protection package, no matter how tired you are and wow, does it seem like a good deal. I am super sure that my local auto shop would've done it for cheaper.

    On a side note, I went for the extended warranty which only time will tell about, but I think it was at a good price (Toyota killing people => good price on warranty). I also went for the gap insurance but I'm canceling it in a couple of weeks for a full refund. Gap insurance only works if you total the car or it gets stolen (irretrievably i think), which are odds I'm going to take.

  6. Stupidity: hoo boy. This one is a crazy maker. It turns out that a RAV4 Limited edition comes with XM radio as a standard feature. It even says so on the sticker. Unless you upgrade to a integrated nav system... in which case, they add a small clause in parenthesis to the sticker right after describing the nav, saying this option deletes the XM radio. So my stupidity was in not explicitly reading every friggin line on the sticker and assuming that adding on an alleged $2000 to $4000 upgrade package would actually IMPROVE (a.k.a. NOT REMOVE FEATURES). The dealer/salesman stupidity was in never discussing this interesting fact. I refuse to believe that people who will shell out money for a integrated nav system do not want integrated XM...

    Winner: Jury is out on this one. I went back to the dealership service dept because I couldn't get XM to work, which is when I learned all this stuff. I then complained to the sales manager because I was pissed off. The sales manager offerred to pay 50% of the reduced price that the service department was offering after my initial "What do you mean I don't have an XM receiver?!". I accepted the offer. The loml says that I needed to tell them I was returning the car and they would have done it for free. My sole regret on this is that I did not try this immediately upon discovering the issue.

    I don't like playing the what-if game, because the other what-if says that if I had known beforehand, then I would have paid for the XM as part of the sales cost of the vehicle and I possibly saved some money doing it this way. but damned if I can tell.

    Lesson: DO NOT FALL in love with the vehicle during negotiations
    INCLUDING the 3 day return period. I thought I was safe once I purchased the thing, but my weakness totally bit me in the ass when I had the XM issue, crippling my ability to negotiate fearlessly.

but its over now, and I have to say.. Damned if I still love don't that thing.

me and XM

if you read my previous entry, then you might have realized that lately I've been up to the neck in consumer frustration. Some of it was still milling around, unfortunately for the next person, in this case XM Radio customer service. Note* don't read this entry if you dislike tales of consumer strife.

As part of the ongoing saga of new vehicle ownership, I had to transfer my XM subscription from my old vehicle to the new one. So two things to know: Firstly, I really like XM radio. Secondly, I am never rude to customer service no matter how shitty they treat me because I am an adult. If I am angry, I'm going to try to express it in a mature manner.

Now, on to the story. The background to the story is that I sold my old car which had integrated XM radio and accidentally bought a new vehicle which did not have integrated XM radio (please see the previous entry if you like more info). While pending resolution of that issue, I decided to remove service on my old radio because I wasn't going to pay for someone else to listen to XM. When I called XM, I spoke to a nice rep who told me that I would have to cancel my account since I had no radio or buy a new radio, and wasn't I lucky that they were having a sale and I could buy a radio for just $19.99! I told her I'd think about it and meanwhile, please cancel my account since I wasn't allowed to freeze it. She immediately connected me to the account cancellation/retention department who offered to send me a radio for free if I just please please please did not cancel my account. So I said ok fine, send me one.. worst case, I'll actually use it.

Now, as of today, I got an integrated XM radio installed in my vehicle. Yay! So I called XM to activate it on my account. At which point I was connected to Fred (note* this is his "real" name. and I mean real like Dolly Parton's hoo-hoos). Fred was the most robotic and inefficient customer service rep I have ever encountered.

From the start, I explained myself very simply. I sold my old car with an XM radio, I have a new car with XM radio. Please transfer service.

At this point, everything went downhill. Fred was unable to locate my account information based on my name or any information I provided. I finally had to dig up the paper work on my account and provide it. Then Fred informed me that in order to activate the new radio, I would need a line of service and luckily XM had some great packages to offer me. ??? No, Fred. I already have an account, use it please.

Then Fred said that my existing account would not work and I needed another one. Again, I explained myself. I had a car with integrated XM, I now had a new vehicle with XM, how would it not work? Then Fred told me that the existing account already had a radio on it. Really?? Do I care?? Remove the old radio Fred. Then Fred asks me to confirm what the old radio ID is.

At this point I knew it was past time to hang up and call back to get a different customer service rep. But I am a masochist. I continue. After going back to the paperwork, I confirm that the radio ID must belong to the XM radio that the previous rep was sending me for free. Again, I request, remove the existing radio ID, please use the new one I provided.

Ok. Says Fred. OK. but before I can rejoice (finally), Fred informs me there will be a transfer fee.

No, I say. I am already paying a monthly fee. Are you trying to lose customers? (probably the worst thing I said during the entire call). I am not willing to pay this fee. Is this necessary?

Fred says, "Yes ma'am. It is the transfer fee". So I tell him, fine... Cancel My Account. I am not doing this anymore.

and he says, "Yes ma'am. One moment please". And for a minute I am actually concerned that I might have to renegotiate an account with XM. A thought which isn't so bad because I hear there are some mighty good deals to be had.

but, no. Fred comes back. He can waive the fee. fan-fucking-tastic. Do it Fred, give me service. At which point Fred tells me a bunch of pointless stuff like, 'turn on the radio', 'make sure the antenna is pointed at the sky', 'this may take a few minutes', 'you can visit our website'...

and then, he concludes by telling me that I will be getting an e-mail survey and he would appreciate it if I would respond and talk about how he resolved my problems. I was amazed, "sure, I'll do that".

"Again, my name is Fred. Thank you for choosing XM."

June 24, 2010

xm followup

This is kind of a funny thing. After all my chit chatting with XM customer service, a mysterious charge showed up on the credit card bill after all. Awww.. turns out that my off-shore customer service rep "Fred" somehow managed to screw up my transaction after all.

But all was not lost. I called XM again to get them to remove the erroneous charge and was connected with 'Jonathan'. Unlike my previous three customer service reps, Jonathan sounded like that might actually be his real name (if not, I salute you Jonathan and your excellent cultural training). Jonathan was actually able to fix my problem AND he also was able to hook me up with an additional line of service at a great price. He was amazed that I actually wanted to give them money, and I was amazed that I could find an XM representative who actually wanted to take my money.

ARE YOU LISTENING XM RADIO??? THIS IS WHY YOU ARE HAVING PROBLEMS!

anywho, Jonathan was happy to sell me some service and even gave me some great tips on where to get my spare XM radio installed ("I hear alot of people go to Best Buy").

wow. Bravo Jonathan, bravo! I have to say that whole experience made me realize that we, as a consumer public, really need to start appreciating good customer service, even if the products wind up costing a little more. Because in the case of XM radio, it took me four phone calls to actually purchase an extra line of service.

Crazy eh?

About June 2010

This page contains all entries posted to daisyblahg in June 2010. They are listed from oldest to newest.

May 2010 is the previous archive.

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