Morning phone rings at the car lot…
Random Stranger: Hi there, like, I have this friend you know and he told me that you finance vehicles, and his name is Emmanuel and aahhh, like I was wondering, well, uh, do you have any Toyotas and like, do you, ummm… finance vehicles you know?
Me: I’m sorry. Who is this?
Random Stranger: My name is Lashandra and like, you know, I was really wondering whether you have any Toyotas, and like, how much can you give me if I came by with four or five hundred dollars because my friend Emmanuel…
Me: Where do you live?
Random Stranger: I live in Georgia, like, you know, I live in this state.
Me: (Laughing) I know you live in this state! Where in Georgia do you live? I only finance folks in Paulding, Cobb, and Douglas counties.
Random Stranger: Oh, I live in Fulton. Emmanuel said that you…. (three minute diatribe with 17 likes, 14 aaahhs, and 11 you knows).
Me: Do you have any coffee nearby?
Random Stranger: Why would I need coffee?
Me: I need coffee. I really need a cup of coffee. Call me back.
Random Stranger: Well, um, ahh, OK… but Emmanuel said that you (I give the phone to my confused dog and walk off.)
Craigslist always seems to bring out the weird people on a Friday morning. Or it could be Ebay on a Wednesday afternoon. Or even Autotrader on a Monday evening. Sometimes I get the most random, scary, and gibberish driven calls you can imagine. We’re talking about people still stuck in the outer space of their daily lives in a futile pursuit of a Planet X located in the netherworld of their cranium.
Here are a few personal examples…
The Questionnaire: “Hi there. I just have a few questions to ask you. How many miles does it have? How many owners? When was the last time you had it serviced? When was the last time you changed the oil?”
This is followed seven minutes later with…
“How often have you used the glovebox? Is the glovebox fully operational? How about the headliner? And the driver’s side cupholder. Do all the cupholders work? Do you have a Carfax? Good. How many owners?”
The Dreamer: “I see you’re selling a Harley on Ebay. Let me ask you a question. I have never been on a highway while driving a motorcycle. Do you think I can drive it up to Tennessee?”
NOTE: After explaining to her the Darwinian nature of her quest, she still ended up becoming the winning bidder. Following a two month wait, her son came down to Atlanta in a Saturn with some bungee cords. He was going to tie the Harley up on the roof and drive it back.
The Hardsell Discount SOB: “Hi there. I want to buy car! You sell it at discount?”… after explaining that I don’t negotiate over the phone and the car is listed for $10k… “You take $6000? I have cash! I have cash money!”…
NOTE: You never, ever, want to deal with these people face to face. What they will usually do is only speak in their native language and then act completely clueless when you explain to them the price. This will be done over an agonizing two hour period where you will find renewed interest in sorting out your trash bin, paying bills, and dialing in a 34-part Taco Bell survey.
The Needle-(nose): “Yeah. I saw that Mercedes window regulator you have on Craigslist for $80. I have $20 cash and I’ll take it off your hands. Will you take 20?”…
Five minutes later…”Will you take 25? No? Well call me when you’re ready to sell!”
Text, fifteen minutes later: “Cmn man! I ned it! Ur car a deesl?”
Seven texts later: “OK30. Final ofr!”
Two days later: “Stel god it?”
NOTE: This is by far the #1 reason why most dealers won’t part out a crappy car on Craigslist anymore.
The “I don’t know.”: “Hi there. I’m looking for a car.”
Me: “Great. I have plenty available. What’s your price range and what models interest you?”
IDK: “I don’t know. I’m just looking for something that is safe and reliable.”
Me: “Well, I have a 2003 Volvo S40 for $5000. It was dealer maintained since day one and I can email the Carfax and pictures if you like.”
IDK: “I don’t want a European car.”
Me: “Do you want American, Korean, or Japanese?”
IDK: “I don’t know. I’m just looking for a car.”
Me: “Well, what price range are you looking for?”
IDK: It doesn’t matter. I’m just looking for A to B.
Me: “Well, I have an 02 Corolla. It…”
IDK: I want something bigger and newer.
NOTE: Fifteen minutes later you will find out that they want to spend no more than $5000 on a five year old car… with leather.. and it must be a Toyota Camry LE.
The Life Story! :
“Yes, I’m calling about that 1998 Subaru Outback. You know I used to have one of those and let me tell you… those cars…”
Fifteen minutes and 1 very strong cup of coffee later…
“Well, I’m just looking. But call me if any more of those get in…”
NOTE: On a slow day the Life Story can be one of your most enjoyable customers because they actually know something about cars. The life story is more often than not a bored enthusiast who also has a long list of hobbies, random stories involving their kids, and an unusual desire for “that one car”. I even had one fly down to pick up a car from me, sight unseen.
The “I saw it on TV” Caller #22:
TV: “Wha-cha got for a thousand dollars!”
Me: “I’m sorry. What is it you’re looking for?”
TV: “I’m a wholesaler. I’m looking for a cheap thousand dollar car. I need one with a good engine and good transmission. I wholesale cars.”
Me: “Where are you out of?”
TV: “Well… umm… I live in Marietta.”
Me: “Why are you telling me you “live” in Marietta if you’re a wholesaler?”
TV: “Well, I’m just getting started.”
Me: “OK then. Where is your place? I know plenty of wholesalers out of Marietta. None of them sell thousand dollar cars out of their home.”
NOTE: Most TV customers have visited public auctions and haven’t quite grasped the fact that cheap cars at those sales are cheap for a reason. Most cars wholesaled for $1000 these days are worth more parted out than kept together.
I usually average about two to three of these calls a month.
Every business deals with these types of customers in one form or another. So since we’re headed to the thick of another nice long three day weekend, feel free to share your stories. All the best!