Last week my younger stepdaughter, passed her driving test so was determined to go and buy a car. She has a particular fondness for the Peugeot 206 so went trotting off to the local Peugeot dealer to get a reasonable 2nd hand one. Then we got a call from her asking for our bank details. When I asked why it transpired that the finance deal the garage was setting up for her required guarantors. Well that set the alarm bells ringing.
Quite apart from the fact that Holly is 20 years old and has a job with a regular income (earning more than I am at the moment, I think) I have absolutely no trust in finance companies so would not agree to it. Making further enquiries I realised that they were selling her a car that was overpriced to begin with, had a much higher spec than she wanted or needed, and over a 4 year period she would be paying over £2,150 in interest alone (more than a third of the cost of the car). Holly’s young enough to believe that when the very nice salesman says he’s doing her a favour that he’s being quite genuine about it, whereas I just felt a knot in my stomach knowing that he would have no compunction about taking complete advantage of her naiveté.
The problem is, she lives over 100 miles away so I couldn’t easily go car hunting with her, but I still felt I could get her a better deal somewhere. I spent a couple of days making phone calls and trawling the web and Holly came down to stay with us on Wednesday night so that on Thursday we could spend the day going round garages. Unfortunately there turned out to be a distinct lack of Peugeot 206s in this corner of Scotland.
To cut a very long story short, in the end my friend in the car trade, Barry (the same one mentioned in one of my first blog entries – Compliment the Car), pulled a rabbit out of the hat and managed to get hold of a good condition, low mileage 206 for a price that was several hundred quid less than anyone else’s equivalent. The only drawback was that it was up in Stirling (120 miles north of here). As Holly would be working all day Friday and Saturday the only way to guarantee we could get it was to drive up there yesterday afternoon. Still, it was a great deal and Holly’s as happy as can be about it. I didn’t get home until after 10pm though and was absolutely shattered.
By my calculations, with her getting a slightly lower spec car, financing it in a different way, and dealing with people I can trust, I reckon she’s saved in the region of about £3,500 and still has a great wee car that she’s happy with. It might be green instead of red, but for that amount of money she’s not going to lose sleep over it.
I’m relieved, but also incredibly pissed off with the original garage she was dealing with, because this whole episode has basically taken 3 days out of my life to get sorted for her. Wouldn’t it be nice if it wasn’t the duty of nearly every business to screw as much money out of people as they can (careful Kim, your socio-anarchistic ideals might start showing).
On a light-hearted note though, while I was up in the central belt of Scotland I also bumped into another old colleague of mine who commented on how much weight I’d lost since he last saw me. I gestured to the outsized clothing I was wearing and said something about having a lot of baggy clothes these days to which he squealed with delight, “Time for a whole new wardrobe!” In that instant I suddenly realised why women love having gay friends.