Closing the Deal

Dennis Friedman

I HATE BUYING CARS. I can’t think of too many sales transactions that are more loathsome. When I look back at all the times I purchased a car, the one with my father in 1976 was the most memorable.

I needed a new car. I was living in San Diego and often driving to Los Angeles to visit family and friends. My 1966 Volkswagen Beetle couldn’t take too many more trips.

I asked my father if he wanted to come with me to look at new cars. My dad was a nice guy. But he could also be quick-tempered and impatient. Those aren’t good qualities when negotiating the price of a car.

We went to a Lincoln Mercury dealer and I saw the new Capri. It was bright yellow and sporty looking. I’d like to say it was my dream car, but it wasn’t. My dream car was a Fiat Spider, but it was out of my price range.

The salesman was new at selling cars. He didn’t know much about the car I was interested in. He told us he spent most of his career selling clothes. But I could tell why the dealership hired him. He could sell you anything.

The salesman said, “We have to work together as a team when negotiating a price for this car. You want to buy a car and I want to sell you a car. But my manager has to approve the deal. He’s the one we have to convince.” The way he said it made me feel like he was on our side.

The team concept didn’t last long. My dad grew impatient and got involved in the negotiations. We were close to a deal. But my father and the salesman were arguing over a last-minute price increase of $20.

I sat and watched them argue back and forth over a measly $20. Finally, I took out my wallet and laid a $20 bill on the table. I said, “Here’s the $20 you’re arguing over. Take it.”

I could tell by the look on my father’s face that he couldn’t believe what I just did. There was a brief silence. Then my father and the salesman started to laugh. The salesman gave me back my $20 and we quickly came to an agreement. I finally had a new car.

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