Sometimes it is very hard to believe that people can be so naive, but it must be so since the old idea of bait and switch skuldugery still exists in this so-called enlightened age. For example, recently, I have been searching on Craig’s list for a late model used car in order to buy a second car (the emergency car?). So I’ve looked at all these automobiles and called a hundred different places asking questions. I’ve wasted about $200 so far in gas and incidental expenses driving to different places to look at potential purchases. Here’s what happens:
“Hello, I’m Dave. I’m calling about that 2004 Lincoln LS you have listed for $6995?”
“Oh, si, I mean yes, senor… er, sir. Just call me Gerardo. That is an excellent vehicle. Only 78,000 miles. Runs like a top. Looks great, smells good. One previous owner. I would buy it myself, but my wife won’t let me. Ha, ha, ha, ha.”
“Yeah, ha, ha. So have you done any maitenance on it?”
“Oh, si.. yes, sir! We do a complete 100001 point inspection. It’s cherry.”
“OK. So where can I find you?”
Detailed description of how to get to the lot which is located in the heart of Scary Neighborhood.
Get dressed, grab checkbook, gas up the car and take off. Get lost six times. Have to stop and eat. Spend money. Get more gas. Spend more money at convenience store on snacks and drinks because you don’t know when you’ll ever find your way home again. Exchange fone calls with Gerardo seventeen times. Finally, his place comes into view and I shudder to my toes.
“Ok, hey, Dave! Glad you could make it. Look, here’s the key. Giver her a spin. Take your time. We put a gallon of gas in it last week.”
“OK,” I say taking the keys reluctantly.
The car starts up. The AC smells like it survived the Medieval Black Plague. The radio/stereo works fine. The odometer shows it has 147,000 miles on it. The sticker on the window says ‘2001’.
“Hey, Gerardo! I thought you said it was a 2004?”
“Oh, no, senor. We sold that car just 3o minutes before you arrived. So sorry.”
“But the mileage is a bit high. How much for this one?”
“$6995 plut TT & L.”
“What?! That was what you said you wanted for the newer, lower mileage car!”
“Oh, si, but this car has custom wheels and a moon roof. It has a 6 CD player and special speakers and just look at that custom wrap on the steering wheel. With a new paint job and a little TLC, this car would be mint. A bargain!”
“Oh,” I say as I roll up the window and put it in drive.
Clunk. Buzz. Rattle, rattle. Clunk. Grind, bump. I think I’m at a strip club before I get back.
“Hey, Gerardo!” I say, handing him the key. “The car needs brakes. The tranny slips. The back tires are worn out. The spare is missing. The horn doesn’t work. The rear-view mirror is falling off and the grill is cracked in three places.”
“Oh, well, that can all be fixed,” he smiles. “We have a garage out back. Besides, what do you expect. It was owned by Avis, you know?”
Oh, well. Back on the road. More gas. More snacks out of sheer frustration and disappointment.