Cheating on Mercedes: Or, How I Became a Bimmer Girl

I just relocated. Again. To Los Angeles. Again. As a seasoned nomad recently migrated from New York, city of taxis and car services, I suspected, correctly, that the most tumultuous transition would be the acquisition of a vehicle. (Full disclosure: I hate car dealers even more than contractors.) Predictably, the selection process was easy: I asked a handful of friends for their nods on a 4-door sedan, and the majority ruled in favor of a BMW. I mentally settled on a BMW because they’re a smart luxury brand with a strong, word-of-mouth reputation, their lease and maintenance-included deals were attractive to me as a buyer and a woman, and frankly, this Brand Girl was seduced by the idea of sashaying around L.A. in an “Ultimate Driving Machine.” Yet despite all the virtual notes, quotes, and third-party votes, I still had to walk into a dealership to experience the brand itself—and to potentially seal a deal. Magically, a “Bimmer” with my desired specs sat a few yards away on the Beverly Hills dealership’s lot.  Thus equipped, I test drove the sedan. Unfortunately, though, my “wear-it-on-my-sleeve” approval was misread by my salesman, a rookie who boasted he “used to be rich in Miami real estate.”  Mr. Miami No Dice seemed to be confusing me with someone who just crawled out from under a pile of poorly produced Pashmina. (Note to Mr. Moon Over Miami: In the future, when an educated, willing buyer who fits the BMW “model” citizen profile walks in your door unsolicited and just hands herself to you on a silver platter, don’t try to play her. Just play nice.)

The bad news: After Newbie gave me the whole “… please wait while I consult with my managers and we’ll see what we can do…” routine, I felt no compunction about letting loose on him with some unexpressed “just moved” jitters. Slick then went so far as to indicate that the “dealership” didn’t want to bid against itself, so they would beat whatever quote I could give them in writing. My interpretation: “So rather than offer me a reasonable deal now, to close the sale for a car sitting on their lot, they are trying to see what they can get away with. And they are asking me to do more leg work?” (Thought bubble: “I do have an inherit ability to magnify the worst of flaws in men, but Slick, are you really sending this girl—and the easiest sell you’ve had all month—out the door?”) The good news: I never did make it out the door.  Amateur hour ended fifteen minutes in. I ultimately ended up in the hands of the dealership’s experienced General Manager, and leased my 328i Sapphire Black Sedan with Oyster seats that very day—and at a very competitive price.

The experience illustrates two things:

1) That even after my daily onslaught of targeted, online auto ad messages, after multiple phone conversations with auto vendors lobbying for my business, and after my informal polling of friends, in the end, it was engagement with the brand—the people and the product—that won the sale. This even despite the misstep of a sales agent stuck riding Don Johnson’s pink Miami Vice coattails.

2) That the “loyalty” line between brands in a similar category, disquieting though it may be, really is Kate Moss thin. Despite being—and remaining—a longtime Mercedes Benz enthusiast, inside of half an hour, I switched gears to a Bimmer. <sigh> I’m just sayin’ is all…

Filed: boys, branding

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2 Comments

  • Hey. I wish you would have dropped in on a Mercedes dealer, and THEN decided what to buy. I would have liked to hear your comparison of the shopping experience.

    And LA? I thought we had a date to see the Burton show at MOMA!!!

    Good luck on the left coast.

    Rob

    Reply

    • kwas

      How did I not reply to this? Hmm.

      Well Rob, three years ago, I did do my due diligence by investigating the potential lease of a Mercedes before I pulled the trigger on the BMW. Keep in mind that I actually did own two Mercedes prior: a CLK and an SLK, both of which I really enjoyed. I like the Mercedes car and brand of service very much. However, three years later, I’m still very much in LOVE with my Bimmer: Great design, great drive and like me, so low-maintenance. It totally meets this Brand Girl needs. – See ya soon.

      Reply

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