Buying Our Next Car: Step 1.1

Buying a Car – Step 1.1

Wow! What an experience! Yesterday I laid out the rough parameters of what I was looking for in a new or used car to replace our faithful 2000 Ford Focus. I invited comments from readers, and discussed my “top ten” choices with Susan.

From all of that came some decisions. The Porsche is out, as is any Porsche, because we had such a terrible experience with the 1975 Porsche 911 Targa we purchased. Nothing against the brand, but I purchased the wrong year and model of the wrong car for all the wrong reasons and pretty much asked to be abused. And I was. I also did not enjoy the responses of other people. It was a lovely car to drive, but so many responded to “Oh, you drive a Porsche” like I was trying to prove something.

Heck – maybe I was.

Susan expressed her hatred of all Corvettes built after 1959 (At one time we owned a 1958 she loved) with sufficient vehemence that it was wiped off the table.

Today I went a bit more rational, and began to think about some small cars I could easily afford that might be fun. I added the Kia Soul to the list, and its sisters, the Kia Forte 5 door and Kia Koupe.

I also added a 2008 Mustang Bullitt to the list to take up the impractical slack created by booting all Porsches and Corvettes. There’s a used 2008 Bullitt in Fife with only 5,000 miles for 29k – which is really too much when I have my brain turned on.

This week’s major activity has been to start the e-mails going and tracking responses. It has been enlightening! No wonder people hate car dealers.

Here are the results so far:

1. June 8th: Sent an email to the Honda of Kirkland Service rep thanking them for great service on Susan’s CR-V. I also listed my wants, and asking him to send it on to his favorite salesperson. I got a canned generic e-mail response, but no evidence of a personal connection to the questions I had sent them. No further e-mail from them.

2. June 9th: Sent an e-mail to Reardon Chrysler in Kirkland asking about the availability of Fiat 500 models and directing them to my web site for details of what I am looking for. They responded in two hours, but with a generic e-mail that did not answer any of the questions I had asked. So I sent them a 2nd one. As I sent them that one, they sent me a 2nd one that overlapped mine, asking for the details I had already provided – twice.

This is their 3rd response!

When you call OR come in!! Please ask for Adrian Johnson
Your Internet Manager


I just left a message for you regarding the that (sic) you inquired about.

I look forward to hearing back from you so that you may bring me up to date with your plans. In the meantime, if you have any questions, please let me know.

I look forward to meeting and working with you!

Have a GREAT Day!

Adrian Johnson
Rairdon’s Dodge Chrysler Jeep Ram of Kirkland
Internet Manager

Adrian: I sent you specific questions – twice. I presume from the responses that have totally ignored my questions that the only way to get them answered is to call or come in to the store, which is why I will be directing my attentions to the other small cars on my list. All I wanted to know was the availability of a red Fiat 500 Sport with a 5 speed. It should not take 4 e-mails to get such a simple question answered.

Dave Preston
(and no, he did not leave me a message)

3. June 9th: 4:25pm. Sent a long e-mail to Harris Ford, having given up on their “live chat” feature, and told them exactly what car I want and referring them to my web site for more details on where I am coming from.

Good news – response in 7 minutes.

Bad news – this was the response.

Dear David,

Thank you for visiting our online showroom. I’m Luk Blackwell, the General Manager for Harris Ford Lincoln Isuzu. Our customers have told us purchasing their vehicle over the Internet was such an enjoyable experience that they will use the Internet again for their next vehicle! Our goal is that you will feel the same.

We have found it best to review your request with you over the phone. This helps to clarify your purchase criteria. However, in our first conversation, the Internet purchasing process will be explained, the vehicles’ features and options will be reviewed and pricing will be provided. We strive to make the process of purchasing a vehicle as easy as possible.

You should expect a call from one of our internet sales consultants shortly, but please feel free to call us at your convenience. We look forward to assisting you with your new vehicle purchase.

Again, thank you for the opportunity to earn your business.
Luk Blackwell
General Manager

If I wanted to talk to them on the phone I would have called!

They recovered from my “no phone calls please” response quickly with an e-mail from a young man by the name of James Benjamin. Then it got funny – turns out he is the boyfriend of Nicole, my assistant. Great bargaining technique – “So, do you LIKE having your girlfriend employed?” Oh – wait – that would be extortion and therefore wrong.

Turns out yellow ones with 5 speeds are rare, so perhaps we will switch to red – at least for the test drive.

He wrote back and agreed that a test drive in a 5 speed would be easy to arrange, and seemed happy for me to take as much time as needed. Huzzah – perhaps a civilized human being I can work with!

4. June 9th: 4:37pm – sent a quick e-mail to Chuck Olson Kia describing the car I wanted and leaving out the reference to my web site. I am interested in the “Soul” with a 5 speed stick – and all of the ones I see online are automatics.

Response in one minute:

Dear David Preston, Thank you for giving Chuck Olson Chevrolet this opportunity to earn your business. We have received your inquiry for a new 0 Unknown ! If you have submitted this request during our regular business hours (9:00 A.M. to 8:00 P.M., Monday through Saturday. 10:00 A.M. to 7:00 P.M. Sunday) please expect an email with the specific information you requested within 1 hour. If it is after hours we will address your request as soon as possible once we reopen. Again, thank you for choosing Chuck Olson Chevrolet

Chuck Olson Chevrolet Kia
2nd response: Hello David,
Your request did not mention any specific type of car. Just call or email me so I can give you an accurate quote.

Thanks, Bob Collins
Hmmm – odd. Well, might as well be polite

That’s either weird (I typed it) or “my bad” – a senior moment.

In any case, I am beginning a search for one of several cars. For more on where I am coming from check the article on my web site at

Anyway, what I am interested in is a Kia Soul in yellow with a 5 speed stick. Looks to me like all the ones on dealer lots are automatics.

I would also be interested in the Kia Forte 5 door and Koupe – also with a 5 speed.

David Preston

Let’s see what tomorrow brings!

About david

I am a 69 year old motorsports nut who lives in Bothell, Washington. After a 31 year career as an English teacher, I segued into a self-created job in the motorsports business. Now retired, I was involved in customer relations for Ride West BMW in Seattle, after almost 10 years of similar work for the Cycle Barn MotorSports Group. I have been married forever and have two grown children. I own, at the current time, a Triumph Bonneville T 120 , a Triumph Thruxton, a Fiat 500S and a VW Tiguan. What else would you like to know?
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