Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Countryman Lend me your Gears

Let me introduce myself. I am a thing of wealth and taste. I've been around a long long time, stole many mans soul and faith. I was around when Peter, Paul and Mary were puffing the magic dragon. Please to meet you, hope you guessed my name.

Please click me and make me bigger.

Oh I took these pictures before I even opened the door. This is the cleanest the MINI will be. I am assuming I am too old to develop some good habits and will continue down the same path with the MINI as I do with the FJR.

Anquishing Anticipatory Arrivals

Having left Inskip yesterday, I acted as if I wasn’t excited. Actually I had the emotional “did I really do the right thing” kind of feeling. While I know how much in dollars this is going to cost, it is only a blue streak on a piece of paper, I don’t really know what the monthly payment is. I went in for a base Mini Cooper Coupe with some specific options and walked out with a Mini Cooper S Countryman 4WD that had the options preselected. That would be akin to going to Staples for some BIC pens and coming home with a new desk and chairs, even forgetting the pens because they were not longer important. I sure hope I can find a used pen hanging around the house.

So in my nonchalantance (I just coined a word) there must have been this anticipation, after all I did get up at 2:30am to write a blog entry about my experience. First thing I did when I got home was go find the Certificate of Ownership for the Chevy, right where I expected it to be. Fast forward to 7:30am. It had snowed out or should I say it misted snow, because all the trees in the back yard where bent over and covered in that frozen snow mist. Put the documentation in my jacket pockets; grab the Nikon to take pictures of the new MINI and head for the gas station, since I am running on empty. Kid comes up to the window and I say $10 please. Just knocked off another $50 from what I paid for the Countryman by not filling up, couple this with the need for new rear tires  on the Chevey at a $125 each, thats another $250 in savings. With this type of thinking I will have this car paid off in no time.

At work there is this edginess going on. I had even forgotten about the new Olympia riding suit that was due in today. (Well it is mesh, so it’s not like I am going to be wearing it anytime soon) At work I did some things that should have been checked out before I bought this vehicle, like reading on-line reviews of the car. For the most part these all had very favorable things to say about the Countryman. Recalculated the payment on the car (OMFW) since I am financing the whole thing. Write this down on a piece of paper to verify what Inskip come up with. Tick Tock Tick Tock, damn it’s only 9:30am and I am picking it up at 5pm. It is going to be a really LOOOOOOONG day.

Right around 3pm, I went into my boss’s office and asked if it would be OK to leave early so I could pick up my new car. He said sure and we talked about the MINI abit. One thing about this car is everyone seems to adore them, want to talk about them and ask questions about them. 4:30 rolls around and I am out the door, heading for West Warwick RI.

Most of the people I work with live in Rhode Island and know the traffic patterns in Providence. There is no reasonable way to get to West Warwick without driving thru Providence. Using I95 is really the only reasonable road as well. My Garmin 1490 seems to agree with the human assessment as well so we jump on I95, just a few miles from work. 32 or so miles and I will be there.

Remember that $10 of gas I put in this morning.

As I am driving thru Pawtucket  heading into Providence and I am wondering if I cut this a little too close. Wouldn't that be ironical if I ran out of gas before I got to West Warwick. Quick calculation, lets see 25 miles to work, thats 1 gallon, 32 miles from work to West Warwick, a little more than 1.25 gallons, $10.00 divided by 3.78 = 2.64 gallons. Conclusion this is going to be close.
Since I left work early to make sure I got to Inskip relatively on time, the traffic is flowing smoothly without snags. Hit Inskip right around 4:30pm and park the Malibu in it's final spot for me. Malibu you have been a wonderful car, but you are just an appliance, you start every morning, get me to where I want to go, no drama, no excitement, but it is time to go.

I head in to get me new car but I am here early, both Dan and Bill are tied up, so I have to wait. Out to the car to get the Nikon to snap off a few pics to memorialize this event.

Sure looks like Europe here, especially Germany.


And out front is BMW and right next door is Bentley. Sure would be nice to be in the Inskip family. Actually Inskip started out as a Bentley dealer in Manhattan and moved to Providence. It has since been bought out by Penske. What a collection of cars in one place.

There's Dan working with another victim  customer. Dan is a really great guy, no pressure and tons of patience.

This is a real catchy display. Lots of color just ekking of fun. Makes me think of a Harley dealership gone upscale fashion forward.

Dan, finally finishes up with his customer, comes over to me and says let me go get your MINI. I am sure he wanted me to put the camera down so I wasn't annoying the other customers at this point.

Oh I need to introduce to Bill, another great guy !!! Both of them will take great care of ya. Bill is the one that gave me the shirt off his back

The moment has arrived, well sort of, but I am going to be officially introduced to my new friend. I sure hope it plays well with the FJR.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

The Shirt Off His Back

I had stopped at Inskip back in August or September, kicked some tires and drove a 6 speed automatic Cooper S. I believe I drove the Cooper as well, but found that to be nothing like the S. I was greatly disappointed with the automatic, even thou it had the paddle shifters on the steering wheel. What I didn't like was if you felt like being in spirited mode and bring the spirit into the car to be one with your machine, the transmission would put a damper on the spirit of the moment by up shifting just as you were getting into it, putting the revs back down to a tamed snail of under 2000 RPMs. I was expecting the transmission to stay in the gear once I had placed it there. That way you could utilize the power the little engine puts out. I left Inskip with a sense of letdown. So Fall came and went, we have put a pretty good dent into Winter and FJR weather is right around the corner.

With that in mind, my son, Sky and I headed down to Warwick, RI yesterday to look at some more Mini Coopers at Inskip. At 11 in the morning it was snowing so I gave Dan (The Salesman) a call to make sure we could drive some Mini's with our NE weather. Dan said it's only raining down here so sure we could get you into to a drive.

I told Dan I wanted to drive both a Cooper and a Cooper S. No problem, first we will start out with the plain old Cooper. Dan explained how to adjust the seat, mirrors and heat and off we went, this time with 6 speed manual. Turn right, get to the light and then the blind spot at the light. If you pull all the way forward to the line, you no longer can see the light because of the headliner. I guess in time with owning one of these you either wait for the universal alarm to indicate the light has changed (this would be the cars horn behind you) or not pull all the way up to the line. Either way will work. Out on the highway this little car feels like it is on rails (hence the go kart feel) and it is buzzing along.

Next up is the Mini Cooper S. I didn't even need to get out of the parking lot to feel the difference. The Cooper S has it all over the Coop. Same ride the rail handling characteristics and my selection was made.

We got back to the office (Dan's office) and we sat down and configured the S I wanted. British Racing Green, with adaptive Xenon lights, sunroof or moon roof, center console (yes that is an option), fog lamps, Harmon/Kardon system, headlight washers and round it out with sport seats.

Now a bit of a rant on center console. When did this become an option. I was at a Nissan dealer on Saturday, sat in a Jukebox and no center console, I think the car business is adapting some of the business practises of the airline industry, where everything is an add on. You want peanuts, you gotta pay the peanut gallery. Rant over.

With those specs they had nothing on the lot. Dan pulls up the available inventory from NH to MD, puts in the criteria and NADA, ZILCH, nothing. So what option did I want that was causing the problem. It was the adaptive Xenon lights. Take away the adaptive part and there was some cars to be had. OK mini has made the adaptive part of the Xenon lights as an option (fits right in with the peanuts, no salt). You can have the Xenon lights with or without the adaptive option. Not one car within 400 miles has the adaptive Xenon lights. To get this $100 option (which by Mini standards the pricing is cheap) I am going to have to order one from the factory and wait 5 to 6 weeks.

Sky is sitting there and says you really should drive the 370Z and some Subaru, Dan is saying how important are they, I am sighing, realizing that this was not going to be the easy process I thought it was going to be and we haven't even gotten to the money part. I ask Dan that philosophical queston, why would anyone get the Xenon lights (for 500) and not get the adaptive option for 100. Dan shows a great deal of empathy and gives me the answer via a shrug in his shoulders and slightly outward palms right about chest height.

The Business Manager, Bill walks past Dan, Sky and myself and says something like we sure would like to sell you a Mini today. He has this cool shirt on and I say if I do buy one today, do I get a T-Shirt like that. Bill says we don't anymore of these. So I say I'll take the one you are wearing, to which he replies, You buy a car today I will give you the shirt off my back literally. We all laugh and I say I am gonna hold you to that.

Sky says you really should look at the Countryman over here, I think you would be much more satisfied with that model versus the S. So to get over I am not going to get the adaptive option and it was time for me to adapt, I get up and go over to look. I needed to stretch the legs and clear the head. Sky is chattering away about when I am on some back country dirt road in the rain, going up the mountain, that this 4WD is going to be a much better option. Instantly a full panoramic picture is vividly in front of my eyes,  the dirt road in Dinosaur National Park that lead down into the valley. We opted not to go down it on the FJR, but with the Countryman it would be a snap.

See the dirt road heading into the valley
Please click to enlarge
With that in mind, I start the short circuiting between the synapses. From where I stand, looking inward it looks like this

So I sit in the Countryman. What I see is a larger deck on the front dash. This could hold some cameras and maybe even the Nikon. And with the deeper dash, the GPS's will have a short way to fall when the suction cup window thing gives way. Hey the orange panel inserts are kind of neat. Hmmm 4 doors, easy to get to stuff in the back seat. It looks like a Mini from the driver seat, just a scootch more room.

I say to Dan, can we take one of these for a test drive. Dan being the nice guy and the salesman, says sure. Maybe Sky is right. I think back to the ride in the Cooper S, it did not bring the grin like the FJR or the Connie did and it should have. So I know the route by now, up to the light turn left, about a mile get on 95S, etc etc. Dan shows me the adjustments again, seat, mirrors and heat. They are a tad different. The entrance ramp to 95S and the Exit 8 off ramp is where the Cooper S shined. Decreasing radius turns and the car is just stuck to the pavement. The Countryman Cooper S is not the go kart feeling. As it heads into the turns, you can feel the body weight and inertia move to the outside of the car. But again this is a bigger car, a crossover SUV so to speak, so it is not the Mini Cooper S, but it is a Cooper S. Confused, so was I.

Ever had a frozen brain ?

Back at the office (Dan's that is) a quick run down of inventory in the vicinity, no Countryman with Adaptive Xenon Lights. Time to give up on that one. Somewhere he said they are more willing to deal on cars they have in stock than ones they are going to order. He also says it is month end and they are in a dealing mood. My guess this was a car rhetoric,

An epiphany, a weak moment or did the car rhetoric really work.. "Dan lets talk about the white one on the floor. Give me you best shot. I don't want to talk trade in, or how much off list you are giving me, just give me an all inclusive all in net price. If you want to charge me 100,000 for the car, you just gotta give me 98,000 for my trade in." The money phase has begun.

Dan gets up and goes to see Bill, at least that is my guess. I write a number I want to offer on a piece a paper and the number I think they will come back with. I show these to Sky. Sky is telling me he thinks I am making the right decision on the Countryman and I will be much more happy with it in the long run. I have also increased the price by 10,000 from a base Mini Cooper to the Countryman Mini Cooper S. Dan shows me the number, I show Sky the piece of paper, I had nailed it.

I counter with a number between what I had wanted and what they wanted. Dan flinches, well not really, after all he is the salesman. Then it was like a poker game, I raise, Dan lowers, I counter, Dan counters. Somehow we come to an agreed upon number. I say to Dan that is the bottom all in number, he says yes, I say we have a deal.

Bill comes over and shows me 2 shirts, the one he is wearing and another Mini T Shirt. Which one? he says. I opt for the one he is wearing. He comes back with the other shirt on and hands me The Shirt of His Back.

Dan gets up and goes to get some paper work to complete the deal. Sky and I begin to talk. I was elated with the price. I said I am surprised that the price included the taxes and stuff and that I was very very satisfied. I even tell Sky how surprised I was. Then Dan comes back over to the desk and says something like we might have had a miscommunication. I knew it, it was too easy and too good to be true. Somewhere Bill shows up with Dan and Bill apologizing for the miscommunication that there price that we had agreed on did NOT include the taxes. I said but but you said it was all in. Dan say I am sorry it is my fault. Bill is sitting in Dan's seat at this point.

It was Déjà vu. When I bought my first FJR, the negotiations went very smoothly, quickly and I was elated. I said we had a deal. Then the business guy and salesman came over and said we have had a miscommunication. It was exactly the same, except this was a remake with different actors. Same scene, same lines, same emotion from me. I have been there, done that.

Bill goes on to give me the reasons why I should buy the Mini, even brings up the extended maintenance program, which I half hear, but understand the concept and value. Some other stuff was said and I was just kind of off in some cloud. I wasn't mad, sort of maybe believed it was a miscommunication, but definitely understood I was not getting the Mini for the price I thought I was. I said give me the extended maintenance and we have a deal. Bill say I can't do that, to which I said why did you tell me about it. Neither was said in any anger, nor sarcastically, but instead with genuine smiles (at least from my end). We had entered the closing phase. I realized I had been Car 101'd. These guys do this for a living and I had nibbled, bit and swallowed, they were simply reeling me in.

It was my decision, do I walk, or seek a compromise. Bill and Dan are silent, and then Bill says regardless the shirt is yours. I make one final counter with a price reduction, Bill agrees and we struck the deal. This was exactly the outcome on the FJR.

In the end, to save face, to not feel like the fool I know I am, I figured the price of the Mini was exactly what I had originally negotiated and I just bought one really really REALLYYY expensive T Shirt.

On the way home Sky was commenting how much different and better Inskip was from any other dealerships he had dealt with before. He couldn't exactly put his finger on it, but what ever it was he liked it. I have to agree, but it could be I am that much older and the last time I had negotiated a car deal was 15+ years ago. I did walk away feeling good about my purchase.