The Depreciation Fairy Bedevils Capt. Mike

Mike Solowiow
by Mike Solowiow
the depreciation fairy bedevils capt mike

When I was a little boy, my father regaled me with tales of magical creatures that lurked in the Ardennes Forest, the Alps and the high steppes of the Cossack Frontier. Dozens of ’em. And yet Dad forgot the one about the Magical Depreciation Fairy. You know: the creature that lurks in vast concrete expanses that harbor shining metal dragons that enslave weaker members of our society. I shall now inform the Best and Brightest of the characteristics of the Magical Depreciation Fairy, lest ye fall victim to its devious ways.

I discovered this common, yet elusive creature in the environs of Oklahoma, where I heeded the call of a shiny Dodge Challenger SRT 8 with a manual. It was the only example of said vehicle in all of Oklahoma City that did not have dealer tack-ons, nor an adjusted market value sticker. At 2000 hours (8 p.m. for real people), the settled price for the Challenger came to $42,500, from $45,185. Trade in value for my VW Jetta TDI, $13k. Done. My plan: export the Challenger to Europe (where I will reside in three short weeks), drive it for six months, and then sell it on consignment. The broker for the deal was OK with the news from OK.

Overnight, a fat, hairy, sweating beast with golden rings and wings bounced through the lot, dusted my Jetta with depreciation dust, left dirty hand prints on my hood, and bounced on down to HUMMER to create more havoc with the already beleaguered brand.

Next morning, I discovered the value of my Jetta had suddenly and otherwise inexplicably dropped from $13k, to $10k. Apparently the Depreciation Fairy’s friend in used cars couldn’t get the promised trade-in value after calling “the markets” the next morning. The Depreciation Fairy’s friend, The “Waste My Time Fairy,” kept me in the dealership for four hours whilst we discussed, called around, and tried to find a cure for the damage caused by the mythical miscreant.

Once the Fairy’s magic started to weaken, I called the broker in the Netherlands, told him the deal was off due (to mitigating magical malfeasance), and walked out. At least the “Banish the Customers” Troll was afoot; from 0800-1230, nobody graced the Dodge dealer’s door besides myself. Seems like the dealer would kill this Troll as its keeping his three children from being fed (yes, he really did use this line).

Moral of this tale: there be but one way to keep the Depreciation Fairy at bay. Get it in writing.

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  • Beemernator Beemernator on Mar 02, 2009

    Years ago I was interested in a Ford Mondeo. I went to three dealers for a quote. All worked from the same price list and gave the same 10% discount. There was no trade-in involved. Somehow they came up with three different numbers. I figured that if the pre-sales experience was like that, the after-sales department was going to be worse. I got a BMW 328i instead. Good choice, even if I have to agree with myself.

  • Kurt. Kurt. on Mar 02, 2009

    Mike, You might want to look into the legality of selling an American car to a European citizen. In many countries, there is a SOFA that allows American service members to bring cars from the US "duty free" but they can only be returned to the US, sold to another serviceman, or sold as scrap. This is to prevent local citizens from getting vehicles that don't conform to local laws or have not paid the customs taxes. And gas today is $2.28 on base.

  • Tassos ask me if I care.
  • ToolGuy • Nice vehicle, reasonable price, good writeup. I like your ALL CAPS. 🙂"my mid-trim EX tester is saddled with dummy buttons for a function that’s not there"• If you press the Dummy button, does a narcissist show up spouting grandiose comments? Lol.
  • MaintenanceCosts These are everywhere around here. I'm not sure the extra power over a CR-V hybrid is worth the fragile interior materials and the Kia dealership experience.
  • MaintenanceCosts It's such a shame about the unusable ergonomics. I kind of like the looks of this Camaro and by all accounts it's the best-driving of the current generation of ponycars. A manual 2SS would be a really fun toy if only I could see out of it enough to drive safely.
  • ToolGuy Gut feel: It won't sell all that well as a new vehicle, but will be wildly popular in the used market 12.5 years from now.(See FJ Cruiser)