Wednesday, May 26, 2010


It occurs to me that I haven't blogged about the newest addition in our life. Her name is Genevieve, and she is a 2009 black Peugeot 207. After our move last year, I asked Ryan whether or not we should get one, and Ryan in his typical self-sacrificing fashion said that he was fine commuting 1.5 hours each way by subway, train, and bus. Apparently, that is Ryan-talk for "we'll get a car when we can afford it."

So once I was offered a job last February we began hunting. My German friends advised me on negotiating in Germany-- its not very common. Up until a few years ago, a federal law prohibited negotiating deals and discounts beyond 3%. Even though the law has changed, the sticker price is final in most situations. BUT if I did a really good job, I could perhaps expect 10% off the sticker price and some winter tires.

Ryan and I dragged each other from dealer to dealer, making several trips to the Volkswagen dealership because we liked the VW Polo. I tried all the tricks my Dad gave me (be unpredictable, don't appear impressed, don't be afraid to walk away); and we did end up walking away. Two weeks later the dealer called me back and I thought "Ha! I've got him!" But instead he merely informed me that the car we test drove had sold. I reminded him he had several of that make and model. He asked me if I'd care to have another test drive, and I told him not if the price was still 11,000 Euros. He told me I wouldn't find a car cheaper than that and I said "Yes, we'll see about that."

Another couple weeks passed and Ryan lost his patience. But I told him we couldn't buy from this VW dealer, it would be admitting defeat. We visited a few other lots and wound up at Peugeot, with something similar to the Polo, but cheaper. The dealer would only negotiate 5%, and no winter tires, but better to give up on the winter tires than have Ryan smother me with a pillow whilst I slept.

After some back-and-forth with all the various German bureaucracies involved in buying a car, insurance, parking permits, emissions tests, etc, (let's not forget our wonderful driver's license experience!) we got the car home. Ryan is happy to cut his daily commute from 3 hours to about 45 minutes, and we've enjoyed a few weekend outings to Würzberg, the Rhine Valley, and various hiking locales, and then we got THE NEWS.

Ryan's new contract (his company was purchased by another company and they needed to modify contracts) entitles him to a COMPANY CAR. And not just any company car, but a Volkswagen-- probably from that same dealer who wouldn't negotiate with me!

But its all a learning experience, isn't it? Now that I know how to buy a car in Germany, I get to learn how to sell one...

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