I'm 70 years old. Retired university professor. I've been buying used cars since I was 18. This is another way of saying that, since age 18, I have put myself through h*ll every 5 or 6 years. I think we all agree that buying used cars is one of the more awful experiences in life.
It's even more awful when you're buying a used car for someone else and that person has zero money to put down and can make only minimal monthly payments.
This was my dilemma a week and a half ago. For weeks I had looked through local newspapers. I searched Craigslist. I checked local car dealers. Everything was either too expensive, or impossible to finance (given the financial constraints of the person I was negotiating for), or the vehicle was junk.
I live in Malone NY, an hour west of Plattsburgh. Boondocks, in other words. A week ago this past Sunday I sat down at my laptop and fired off an email to Robert Hall at Goldstein Mitsubishi in Latham NY. (A friend in Malone had bought a truck from Robert, and he took me for a ride in the truck. I was impressed by the truck and by my friend's experience with Goldstein.)
The next morning (Monday) I got a call from Robert at Goldstein. (I had spotted a used Nissan on Goldstein's website, and in my email I asked Robert if we could discuss the car.) Robert was calling to discuss the car.
Two days later (Wednesday), Goldstein delivered a spiffy 2011 Nissan Sentra to my friend, Anne, in Malone. Goldstein actually drove it here and hand-delivered it to her! They delivered it fully registered, with new plates and brand-new inspection sticker.
The story gets better. When we discovered a few minor issues with the car, Goldstein promptly sent another driver from Latham to Malone (3-hour drive), turned over a brand-new loaner car to Anne, and drove her car back to the shop in Latham — and repaired everything immediately, at no cost to Anne.
This afternoon, Goldstein drove Anne's repaired car back to Malone, swapped it for the loaner, and left Anne with a like-new Nissan.
The story gets even better. Robert Hall worked out a payment plan for Anne which fit her modest budget. In order to do this, he reduced the asking price on the car significantly. At the same time, he accepted a very low down payment, commensurate with Anne's income.
In the course of all this back-and-forth, I had occasion to speak to the general manager, Glenn Gardner, and sales manager, Vito Indovina. Both Glenn and Vito were most accommodating, gracious, and remarkably generous.
As for Anne, I haven't seen her this happy in a long time. For the past year she has been driving a beater with all manner of problems. The exhaust system was so bad, I could hear her from inside my home when she turned onto my street.
Wednesday of last week, when she pulled into my driveway in her Goldstein Nissan, I didn't hear her. The car was quiet as a kitten. Anne was grinning from ear to ear.