Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Great Moments in Car Buying II: The Revenge. Xtreme.

With the first purchase of a car in some 6 years, I was feeling pretty good. My wife had a car she liked, it was safe, enough room for everybody - now we just had to wait for that first payment voucher to come in and we'd go from there.

What I didn't know is come Thursday morning, a Stupid Sun would rise, and all that its rays touch would burn with Dumb.

First, the dealership called me. Turns out they wanted me to sign some more papers. That wouldn't be a problem, right? And they'd even fill up my car with gas - what a deal for driving 40 minutes out of my way! Just some things to clear up the credit application. Oh, and could I send some pay stubs (which I had already brought them, but evidently they *eat* pay stubs for sustenance so I had to bring more), proof of residency, 3 more references and their relationship to me, a baby seal, proof of circumcision (and if not, a doctor's note that I would have the procedure done), and proof that I was *not* involved in the Kennedy assassination.

Then I asked the wrong question: which car should I drive? Should I drive down the Honda, in case there was a problem and I had to return the car, or my Beetle, if this was all just routine? And did I *really* need to drive down there - could someone just fax me the important documents?

The response: Well, of course you have to drive the Honda so we can fill up the tank with gas!

The Stupid. It Burns.

I sent this:
Right. OK, let me ask this another way.

I'm under instructions from My Lovely Wife (MLW) that if the interest rate needs to increase by any amount greater than .01%, I am to return the Odyssey and get our old car back.

If I'm just there to sign papers and the like, then I'll just drive my humble VW Beetle, since My Lovely Wife (MLW) is taking the children to a birthday party, and it would be difficult to fit 5 people into my small car.

I'm far less worried about the gas as being utterly exhausted after spending the entire night walking at a cancer benefit and having to inconvenience my wife. So - should I bring in the Odyssey just in case, or do you just need my physical presence for non-repudiation purposes on signature?

I thought this laid it out. And besides, I was going to the Relay for Life walk on Friday night (hey - did you donate $5 to help beat cancer?), so I'd be pretty damn tired after walking all night long - the last thing I wanted to do was drive another 40 miles just to dicker with car finance people. I let them know I'd be there at 2 PM on Saturday once they filled in that critical piece of data.

I waited for an answer.

And - I waited.

I left voice mail messages.

I walked for cancer. And then I called.

And, finally, at 1:30, I decided to take a nap, thinking that this must not be very important or else someone would have contacted me. Naturally, they did - at 2:10.

Finally, I learned The Truth: when I drove off the dealership almost a week earlier after putting $2000 down and my trade-in, signed the paperwork for an auto loan - turns out, I wasn't *really* approved.

That was the moment I offered to drive the car back and return it.

Oh, no, Mr. Hummel - we can make something work by Monday, really! And in the meantime, could I check with *my* bank to see if they could swing a loan deal? Please? Pretty please?

What wound up happening me is me taking Monday off of work - using 8 hours of vacation time I was saving up for, you know, a vacation, and futzing around with banks, calling dealerships to figure out what they were doing (which seemed to involve something about crazy glue and getting fingers stuck to their noses). My bank was trying to work with me - and by the way, GTE Federal Credit Union rocks.

But I didn't know that *more* stupid loomed over the horizon. Turns out the bank needed to do employment verification. This is usually pretty easy. It goes like this:
Bank: Hello, is this the HR department of the company I'm checking into?

HR: Yup.

Bank: Great. Does John Hummel really work there?

HR: Yup.

Bank: Thanks!

HR: Yup

This is it. Not exactly rocket science. However, it turns out the company I work for has elevated stupid to an art form. See, they *pay* some other company to do this job for them. That's right - employing someone to work $6 an hour with benefits to answer a phone and say "Yes, they work here, and they do make that much money" or say "No, they don't work here" is too difficult.

Instead, let's hire an outside company! Not only that, but let's make it if you do employment verification, you have to *register* with this outside company - so now some other company may have to run by legal "Hey, is it OK if we go register with this company and deal with the possibility that they'll spam us into oblivion".

No, you can't just call up the Outside Company and say "Does this person work there?" You need to register. And get a Super Secret Code for income verification. And hey, while you're at it, there's this former general from Nigeria who has a *great* offer if you can just help him out!

I finally got my boss to take a call from the bank and say "Yup."

Finally, I got the bank to take up the deal (at a lower interest rate if I agreed to automatic payment). I have papers fed ex'ed to me I need to sign from the dealership saying that I'm aware I missed out on their *awesome* imaginary offer.

And my wife has a car. Officially. Finally.

Now, where's my Macbook Pro I was promised?

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