Random ramblings of a mind damaged by years of disuse and abuse. Also a place to go to be bored to tears.
The Random Comic Strip
Words to live by...
"How beautiful it is to do nothing, and to rest afterward."
(The right to looseness has been officially given)
"Everyone carries a part of society on his shoulders," wrote Ludwig von Mises, "no one is relieved of his share of responsibility by others. And no one can find a safe way for himself if society is sweeping towards destruction. Therefore everyone, in his own interest, must thrust himself vigorously into the intellectual battle."
Apparently, the crossword puzzle that disappeared from the blog, came back.
Wednesday, March 30, 2011
Well, let's just total that up, shall we?
It seems I am always "in heat" for new things, mostly cars, these days. There's nothing wrong with my car other than it gets poor gas mileage in city driving. Unfortunately, that's pretty much all the driving I do these days. In my car. When we take a trip somewhere, we use Faye's. Her car's a little newer. And Faye prefers the cloth seats in her car to the leather/leatherette ones in mine. So, I acquiesce.
Because I just drive around town, it would make sense to have a small fuel efficient car. Something that gets good mileage, something with enough room to carry my golf clubs and the associated gear (rain jacket, a couple of small towels, two pair of golf shoes, and about 6 hats I only wear at the golf course), something "zippy", something cheap.
So I watch ads. I peruse the internet. I do a lot of "Build your [insert model name here]." In doing so, I have noticed a commonality. Price creep does not creep like a tortoise, it leaps and bounds like a kangaroo, it soars like an eagle.
I am at that age where I no longer can tolerate the stripped down model. I once owned a `56 Chevy 2 door sedan. Stick shift, vinyl seats, 6 cylinder engine, no radio, no power steering or windows, no heater. I added an after market radio which means I found a cheap Chevy/Delco radio at an auto junkyard and installed it.
But you cannot buy a stripped down car anymore. You cannot buy a new car the way we once did. Here's how it worked. You went to the car dealership, you test drove one of the demos. You selected the options you wanted individually; radio, power steering/windows, heater, and so on. The salesman would total it up and you would sign the contract. The car would be ordered from the factory and arrive within a couple of weeks. Those days are pretty much gone.
We have gone to buying cars like we shop for groceries or garden tools or just about anything. We select from the inventory on hand. In some, maybe many, cases the dealer will try to locate a car that comes close to, or matches, your preferences from another dealer (he'll swap one of his with that dealer for it) and you'll have it within a few days at most. It seems we no longer want to wait. In exchange for not having to wait, we compromise on accessories, features, and trim.
The auto makers have found a way to exploit that. You want that $400 built-in navigation system? You have to add the "tech package" for $2500 (or more) which gives you a number of extra features and accessories you don't want or need. You want the 17" wheels? You have to buy the "touring" or "sports" package for $3500 which includes things like a motorized sun roof and a rear deck spoiler and fog lamps.
So, you see an ad for a Jetta and it says "under $16,000" and you think "Wow! That's a pretty good price." Until you try to find that vehicle anywhere. It doesn't exist. No matter where you go, even on the internet, you will not find that stripped down vehicle.
After you sigh a few thousand times, go through all the anguish, and decide you will bite the bullet and pay for what you don't want to get the 10% you do want. You find all the additional charges...
Dealer prep - Anywhere from $200 to $400 (sometimes more) depending on the make and model. This means the dealer allegedly checked the car out and washed it. And maybe tossed in a full tank of gas.
Title transfer - Starts at about $200 and rises rapidly depending on state.
Destination charge - Several hundred dollars. Basically you are just reimbursing (at a profit) the dealer for bringing the car to the dealership so you can see it on his lot and settle for it instead of the one you really wanted but could not get.
And you may also run into something that is just outright theft in my opinion. A premium based on desirability. I saw one of these premiums as high as $2000 tacked onto a new model van from Toyota back in the mid-70's.
So that $16,000 car that you saw advertised? Did you look at the fine print? You'll have to pause your DVR or get a magnifying glass for the newspaper or magazine ad to find out the one pictured is "$25, 995, as shown."