Monday, August 11, 2003

Pushed, kicking and screaming, into the free market

I did it. Even after moaning and griping, and saying it would be too much hassle.

It’s amazing the eminently practical decisions it takes a conversation with your mother to push you into.

So, on Saturday, I bit the bullet. I placed an ad for this weekend’s paper to sell my car.

I finally woke up to the fact that:
(a) driving it round to two or three second-hand dealers was going to take as long as spending a day at home waiting for people to come look at it; and

(b) selling it to a dealer would lose me at least $1,000 – not just a few hundred.

However, as a salesman, I am a born failure. I hate selling things. It embarrasses me. I’m not even a very good Red Cross doorknocker. Sell an idea? Certainly. Speak in public? Not a problem. Push myself as the successor to sliced bread in an interview? Nothing easier.

Sell chocolate door to door? Not in a million years.

I have a pathological dislike of situations that involve any kind of hard-nosed bargaining over money. So I find the idea of a private sale pretty stressful. I’m really an incredibly uncommercial person, which probably explains my aversion to resuming the practice of corporate law.

Anyway, if you’re contemplating this horror yourself, I recommend the red book and drive to help you work out what a fair market price for your car is. (Red book for a small fee will give a very specific estimate and is meant to be the industry price guide.)

Calling a few used-car dealerships is probably still not a bad idea – it will take some of the pressure off the sale if I know I have a viable plan B for selling it. (The “what is your best independent alternative outside this deal?” question in negotiation theory.)

Remaining issues:
(1) managing to get it cleaned and detailed in the little slice of time between returning to town Friday (I’m in Sydney this week) and commencing inspections on Saturday;

(2) if you let people take it for a test drive, what security do you ask for – their car keys? How do you know they have a car? Get them to park it out front first?;

(3) if I get a decent offer – clearly I’ll want a bank cheque, but what’s a reasonable cash deposit? Is $500 on a car for which I’m asking $9,900 reasonable?

Meantime, if you want to look at a good-condition late ‘99 Toyota Echo sedan with 110,000 kms on the clock (that’s why I’m only asking $9,900), e-mail me.

No comments: