My Review Of Honda of Burleson:
I flew to Dallas from Orange County, CA to inspect, purchase (hopefully), and drive home a 2007 Honda CR-V EX with around 38,000 miles on it (an impossible number; should have been my first clue) at one of those small used car dealers with strangely low prices. The dealer, For Less Autohaus, was located in a warehouse in an industrial area east of DFW airport (should have been my second). When I discovered the concealed frame damage, and was yelled at by the dealer in his office for calling him out on it, and told that I could take a taxi home, for all that he cared, I was more than a bit distressed (don't think for a second that y'alls liberal use of state administered lethal injection cocktails didn't figure into my calm demeanor in the reception room as I waited for my photographer friend and his wife to pick me up; see, it works!).
I had now spent $275 of my mother's $12,000 new (to her) car budget, and was faced with the prospect of not only biting another $250 chunk out of it for a short notice return flight home, but of calling her and telling her that the vehicle that she was so excited about was in fact a scam.
On the ride back to my friends' home in Highland Village, we searched AutoTrader.com again, and found a 2008 Honda CR-V EX with under 43,000 miles on it at Honda Of Burleson over in... oh yeah, Burleson. It had a clean CarFax, was (maybe of utmost importance) offered for sale by a Honda dealership, and looked super clean.
We called the next day to ask some questions about the condition (had it been smoked in, any blemishes, etc.). Joey answered the phone, and told me about the inside driver door handle being a little beat up. I gave him the short version of my reception in Texas by Dallas' Persian-American independent used car dealer contingency, texted him a photo of the cashiers check made out to For Less Autohaus that I had in my hand as evidence, and asked him to immediately knock $1000 USD off the price of the vehicle in question in order to restore my faith in humanity. Joey asked his manager if he thought that was a good idea. He didn't. Joey told me that internet pricing was not usually negotiable, especially over the phone, but if I were on the property... Who knows?
I had my buddy drive me from Highland Village to Burleson, a journey of just over an hour in Wednesday afternoon traffic. My plan was to surprise Joey, offer him way too little for the car, and before he knew what'd happened to him, I'd be speeding toward California, pumping my fist in the air the whole way. The receptionist was very friendly, and summoned Joey almost immediately.
Joey shook my hand with a smile, and then started to tell a very cruel joke that started with the lines, "The car's gone. It's sold." It wasn't that funny, though. I did my best to pretend that I was unaffected by this development, and Joey did his best to pretend that he was sorry about it. He was actually convincing. We shook hands before I left the lot, and as we headed back up the 35W toward home, I actually had sort of come to terms with the fact that I would be flying out tomorrow instead of driving. I didn't feel defeated. I thought to myself, "It just wasn't God's plan for me to buy a car here.".
I enjoyed my last night in town at LSA Burger Bar in Old Denton. The Chili Willie burger is not likely North Texas' best, but the view over the square was good, and the live entertainment was decent. But it was loud. Ears bleeding loud. So loud, that when my phone was trying to alert me to the incoming 817 area code call, I scarcely noticed. I flashed the phone's screen to show everyone at the table why I was jumping up from the table and walking quickly to the stair (easier than screaming at them over the music), and answered the phone when I was just out of line of sight of the music act's sound system, and just about out of rings. On the other end of the call was Joey Zana.
He got right down to business. The girl who had agreed to buy the car earlier had returned the car for a supposed lack of circulation in her extremities, or something ("cold feet" I think he called it). The CR-V was up for grabs again, and I was next on the list. I was coy. I told him that I'd need to think about it, and I revisited the idea of negotiating the price downward to reflect the emotional distress that I had endured. He politely declined. I told him that I would need to give it a think, and call him back. I waited a suitable amount of time, and sent him a text message signaling my intention to pick up the car in the morning.
I showed up to Honda of Burleson late the next morning, and the car was parked in front of the showroom. I walked around the little sport-ute, and immediately noticed more than a couple of previously undisclosed door dings. Joey announced them to me anyway, and let me know that if there were time, he would have the dents removed professionally by the dealership's "guys". I told him not to worry, that he could subtract that cost from the price of the vehicle, and when I got the vehicle safely across the California state line, I could have my "guys" fix 'er up just as easily.
Let me stop my story to say this, before I forget: I don't know if it was because I'd had such an unpleasant experience at the previous Dallas area dealer that I'd visited, or if it was because of the relief that I was feeling, having found a car. But I remember thinking to myself, and remarking to my wife, that everyone at this dealership was really friendly. Genuinely. There's cordial, professional, and helpful. And then there's genuinely friendly. Every employee in this building who spoke to me fell into the latter camp. Even the people who only uttered one phrase or sentence in passing. Really nice. Really cool. In fact, I was texting Joey, the salesman, 'til 11pm last night. First taking care of business, then cracking jokes.
There was only one guy at the dealership who didn't show me his teeth, or turn the corners of his mouth up when he looked at me. Mike, the finance manager, holds what must be an uncomfortable position in the enterprise. Imagine being the only unfriendly guy in a crowd of happy people. He must feel like everyone else is drinking the Kool Aid, or that he's the only sane one, or the only grown up, or the only realist. It's got to be weird. Anyway, just minimize contact with him if you can, I suppose. When it was explained to Mike that the customer (yours truly) was told that there would likely be no fees other than the sale price, plus vehicle inventory tax, and that customary fees were added anyway, Mike defended those fees like they were his mother's honor. He made no apologies for them, the miscommunication, or the situation, and I think he even strengthened his resolve to keep the corners of his mouth pointed at the floor. After he confronted my new friend Joey about the miscommunication in front of me (more than a little uncomfortable), sales manager Rowdy, sitting next to Mike and overhearing the confrontation, delivered what must have been a demoralizing blow to his frowning colleague. "Just roll the price back." Big shock. Another friendly and helpful employee. Poor Mike must get ganged up on a lot like that at his work.
When Joey and I got back to his desk, he apologized for Mike and the situation. He told me that he's a good guy ('cause that's what good guys do), and committed to get me out of the building with my new (to me) car as quickly as he could, as I had my wife and our friends sitting at a table in the showroom for a good while now, sucking down sweet tea and telling stories to each other to pass the time.
Joey made good on his promise. I rejoined my friends, and the time passed quickly. Every time that he needed a copy of something from me, or a signature somewhere, he came speedwalking around the corner, and disappeared in the same fashion. We had our keys in hand before too long, and we gave him hugs goodbye. And after a very late lunch with our friends, and some drawn out goodbyes, we aimed the car at California and mashed the gas pedal, pumping our fists in the air the whole way.
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