Story Lead of the Year

Judge files appeal notice in $54-million missing pants suit”:

A judge who lost a $54 million lawsuit against a dry cleaner over a missing pair of pants continues to press his suit.

posted on 14 August 2007 at 2317humour0 commentstrackback

Capitalism in the Car Business

I just had a brilliant insight. The reason none of the car dealers in south Florida are interested in selling cars is because they’re all run by Cubans who don’t understand the free-market economy.

This is excusable, considering they came from a country that has been communist for the last 50 years, where airport security workers make $10 per month and airline pilots for Cubana make the staggering salary of $30 per month, and where a can of Coke costs a week’s salary for most people.

Here’s the proof.

Being totally fed up with the process of “Walk into dealer, be ignored, spend three hours trying to test drive one vehicle, get jerked around by manager when it comes time to talk pricing”, I decided to get on Mazda’s Web site last night and request a quote on the vehicle I wanted from three dealers back home in Michigan, two dealers in Knoxville, and three here in Miami.

Knowing how the dealers in Miami have treated me, I added this in the comments field of the quote request:

S-Plan qualified, manual transmission a must-have. Would like out-the-door quotes for both leasing and buying with $2000 down. If you try to tack on $500 “dealer profit fees”, be aware that I will laugh at you and walk out the door. If you cannot support your business with the profit you make from selling other cars, then perhaps you’re in the wrong business. I’m tired of dealers wasting my time.

The dealer where I was subjected to the three-hour test drive ordeal on Thursday was one of the dealers from which I requested a quote. The Internet sales manager at that dealer got back to me this morning:

Hi Chris,

Well sorry, laugh and walk away.

After all this is a business and we are entitled to making a profit.

I’m sure that whatever your business is, the customer does not set the price. and here we do have operating expenses that must be covered. If I sell at invoice, our¬†income comes from dealer fees, and that is not even out net profit as from there comes our expenses/operating budget.

So please, feel free to take your business somewhere else where they may want to sell at a loss, but I won’t.

My response was this:

Thank you for not wasting my time.

>After all this is a business and we are entitled to making a profit.

Actually, I don’t see anything in any laws anywhere that guarantees you a profit. It’s a free market, after all, and I’m quite free to take my business where I choose.

I choose to take my business to dealers who are perfectly capable of making a profit after paying all their operating expenses from sales prices that do NOT include a $500 “dealer profit fee” added onto the vehicle’s purchase price.

Your loss. Sorry.

Some people just don’t get it.

posted on 11 August 2007 at 1031car0 commentstrackback

Buying a Car Sucks

In news that should surprise approximately nobody, buying a car is the most complicated, time-wasting, ridiculous process ever. And apparently car dealers in south Florida are in the business of…well, I’m not entirely sure what they’re in the business of, besides “not selling cars”.


I am in the market for a car. I have been in the market for a car since, oh, December.

Two weeks ago, I walked into the showroom of a local Honda dealer looking like a lost puppy dog. It took 45 minutes for a salesman to even approach me and ask if I needed help. When I told him I was interested in a Honda Fit Sport with a manual transmission and that I wanted to test drive one, he quickly agreed and promised to find one.

An hour later — apparently it’s all the rage for kids these days to steal shift knobs when salesmen are looking the other way, so no cars on the lot have them, and the management keeps the two spares under lock and key — I was finally in the car watching the salesman drive it across the parking lot at 25 MPH in first gear. After the first turn, he said, “I don’t really like driving a manual transmission.”

Yeah. Ya think?

Then he tried to tell me I could only test drive it around the parking lot because the service department had all the plates. I told him to go get a plate and that I was taking it for a test drive, which he finally did, and I finally did.

Upon returning to the dealer, he immediately offered me the one I wanted (which they would have to order from another area dealer) for $65 under sticker. Honda Fits are notoriously difficult to come by in some parts of the country, but here in south Florida they seem to have plenty of stock, and they’re all ‘07 models which are about to get superseded by the ’08s.

But when he printed up a quote, there was a $599.95 “dealer documents fee”. When I asked him what that was — title and license were listed separately — I was told that they have to “pay the janitor, keep the lights on, etc.”, to which I responded, “But that’s the normal cost of doing business.”

I walked out.

I went to the Honda dealer back home and asked if I could buy a Fit. I was told I could get on a two- to three-month waiting list, that I would have to put $1000 down to reserve my spot, and under no circumstances was the sales manager going to let any Honda Fit leave his lot for less than $1000 over sticker price before taxes, title, delivery, license, etc.

I walked out.

I went to the local Mazda dealer yesterday to test-drive a Mazda 3. I’m very much interested in a 3s Touring with a manual transmission. The salesman told me they didn’t have any. I asked if they had any Mazda 3 models with a manual transmission, and he said, “I don’t know. Let me check with the manager.”

This was to become his refrain for the next hour and a half.

When we finally located one, he couldn’t find a key. He had to check with the manager.

Once he got the key, the car wouldn’t start due to a dead battery. He went to check with the manager and the service department.

Forty-five minutes later, as I read through the magazines lying around the showroom, he introduced me to another salesman, saying he had to go to the airport and that the other guy would take care of me. “I’ll be here,” I said.

Nearly half an hour later, the second salesman pulled up in a Mazda 3i with a manual — but not the same car I had been looking at before. No matter, I wasn’t interested in that colour anyway, but I could at least get a feel for the car and take it for a test drive, which I did. On the test drive, I asked him if he could get me a 3s Touring model with a manual from dealer stock somewhere in the area. “Probably not,” came the reply. “Well, how long if I had to order one?”


We returned to the dealer and discussed pricing, which consisted of the salesman asking me how much I wanted to put down ($2000), and whether I wanted to buy or lease (work up numbers for both, please), after which he replied, “OK, let me go check with my manager.”

Can we eliminate the middleman, please? If these salespeople aren’t authorised to actually, you know, sell anything, how about you fire them and stop charging these ridiculous “dealer fees”?

That guy disappeared for 15 minutes, and out of nowhere, the manager appeared and sat me down in his office, whereupon he quoted me an out-the-door price of $17,800 (based on a retail price of $15,995) for the vehicle I just drove. When I asked for a printout of his figures, lo and behold, a $499 “dealer fee” was in the price. I pointed to it and asked him what it was. “I have to keep the lights on,” he answered.

“But that’s just part of the cost of doing business. You’re supposed to cover that by the profit you make selling cars.”

“I’m not making any profit selling you this car. I’m selling it under invoice.” (Which, incidentally, is true, but ignores the obvious point that he clearly isn’t selling every car on the lot under invoice.)

I then asked him to work the lease numbers, which he did extremely fast, probably in hopes that I wouldn’t notice a) the sticker price being used as a basis for the lease and b) the $908 figure in the “dealer profit” box.

When I asked him why the starting price of the lease was different from the sale price he just quoted me, he said that I must be mistaken. When I told him they were some $900 different, he said, “Oh, leases start at MSRP.”

“No, I want to lease this car at this price,” I said, pointing to the piece of paper.

“Can’t do it.”

I walked out.

I’m through dealing with all this bullshit and nonsense. My new approach is going to be this:

I walk into the dealer’s showroom and ask to speak to the sales manager.
I tell the sales manager that I’m very much interested in purchasing Vehicle X, and that I will not be paying any “dealer greed and extra profit” fees that he wishes to tack on. (Note that I am willing to have the dealer handle the paperwork with the state for a marginal fee, like $100. $500 or more is a complete rip-off, though.)
I point out that the sales manager has two choices: he can accept the profit he’ll make by selling me a car without those fees, or he can accept a profit of zero dollars by not selling me a car at all.

Take it or leave it, guys. And stop wasting my time. I can’t get in and out of a dealer in anything less than three hours!

posted on 10 August 2007 at 2208car0 commentstrackback

Crack Kills

In the Continuing Misadventures of People Who Are High On Crack, an as-yet-unnamed 25-year-old motorist shot himself in the head while driving his Chevy Blazer after leading police on a highway chase during which he brandished a revolver, smoked crack, and laughed at the officers chasing him.

CLN salutes you, Mr. Crack Smoking Highway Multitasker, with the coveted Dumbass of the Day Award.

Red FormanRed Forman Dumbass Rating: Hyde (Dumbass) Hyde (Dumbass) Hyde (Dumbass) Hyde (Dumbass) Hyde (Dumbass)

posted on 08 August 2007 at 2347humour0 commentstrackback

It’s a Joke, People

For you Spanish speakers out there:

Hay un hombre de Espa?±a que est?° de vacaciones en la Republica Dominicana, y necesita tomar un autobus. Le pregunta al nativo, ¬øD??nde puedo cojer un autobus? y el nativo responda, “Por el m??fler.”

Warning: not even remotely safe for work.

For those of you who are not Spanish speakers, the crux of the joke is that the word “cojer” in Spain and much of the Caribbean and South America (but not in Mexico, most of the rest of Central America, or the Dominican Republic) means “to catch”, in the sense of “to catch a bus” (which is what our Spaniard friend is attempting to ask). In Mexico, most of Central America, and the Dominican Republic, the predominant usage is vulgar, essentially equivalent to the English “to fuck”. The Dominican understands the Spaniard’s question as the latter meaning, and tells him, “In the muffler”.

Except that’s a joke. No one is suggesting that the Spaniard then went off to find a nice warm tailpipe in which to relieve himself. But there apparently exists that contingent of society — and this is why I both love and hate the Internet, where any random nutjob with an opinion out in left field can publish a how-to guide for the most bizarre fetish — who actually loves their vehicles so much that they wish to copulate with them.

I really wish I were kidding.

posted on 03 August 2007 at 1218car0 commentstrackback

Mixed-Up Priorities

ABC News:

Bridge Collapse: Who’s at Fault? It’s Still Too Soon to Know If Anyone Is Legally Responsible for the Disaster

How about instead of trying to assign blame somewhere, you spend your time, money, and efforts figuring out how to ensure this doesn’t happen again?

Sometimes, I really hate American society.

posted on 03 August 2007 at 1214sci-tech0 commentstrackback