Women and car shopping

30 May: Article in the SMH from Elizabeth Farrelly, What women want from a vehicle. I am no fan of Jeremy Clarkson, but do enjoy watching Top Gear. Clarkson is on record stating that occasionally his wife receives a letter from editors of magazines/newspapers/media asking her for her view of cars. Mrs Clarkson replies in the only way she knows how, and it usually contains an enthusiastic report on some form of motor vehicle that practically tore her face off and how much she enjoyed it. The reply, according to her husband, is usually filed very carefully in either the waste bin or on some spike to be shredded later. So, why do we have problems when we are buying cars? Personally, I love the experience and love ordering my cars every three years or so. But this is a report from my personal experience that has played out again and again. Female co-worker arrives at the office on Monday morning and then spends most of the morning, if not most of the day, complaining about the bad service she received from a car sales guy. A few carefully-asked questions, and you find out that the same female ventured into the showroom armed with nothing more than a boyfriend/husband/father, or in other words, a male. Add to this she had no idea what she was after, just a wish that some magical contraption would transport this lack of decision into a car of her dreams.

The conversation on Monday morning always begins the same way: “Went looking for a car on the weekend and the salesman would not even speak to me.” When you probe little deeper, it becomes very obvious that the accusation is unjustified about 90% of the time. It was the male who did the talking. OK, so what are the sales guys supposed to do? If he ignores the male and answers the female, than he will be “creepy” because all he did was ogle her. When he answers the person who is speaking to him, he gets into trouble for not speaking to the female. I will admit that some car sales guys need to go to charm school, I have been on the receiving end of a few of them, but they all got a short sharp rebuke, and a few times I was happy to take my business elsewhere.

So, here is a suggestion. Car shopping list: Price (state your range), Economy (Yes/No), Performance (Yes/No), Two door/Four Door, Petrol/Diesel, just state what is important to you. Is this a car you want to drive every day? Or is this a car that will be lucky to be used once a month? If you want a car to tow a horse float, tell the sales guy, he will not be trying to sell you a 4-cylinder 1-litre engine car. On the other hand, if you want a little city runabout and the salesman is showing a $90K HSV 8-cylinder hoon mobile, than you have every right to complain on Monday, and I will fully support you. Lastly, if you purchased a car and it is not a 100% fit, it is not the end of the world, nobody died. You can either trade it in after a year or live with it and sell it at the first opportunity. Think about it as slightly more expensive shoes and we all have a few of our tragic mistakes still in our wardrobe. I still occasionally look at my shoe collection and think “What the hell was I thinking?” And remember ladies, the guys make even worse mistakes when buying their cars; they just will not admit it. After all, it was a male who thought that the economy of a car is dependent on the size of the fuel tank.