Cash Is King (and the King Is Dead)

This post was published on the now-closed HuffPost Contributor platform. Contributors control their own work and posted freely to our site. If you need to flag this entry as abusive, send us an email.

I'm 50 years old so clearly from the proverbial old school. Times change so fast I can't keep up with them. Case and point -- my wife and I just bought a car for the first time in a while, and little did I know that the way we went about it made us a car dealership's worst enemy.

Here was my error: I contacted my own bank and asked them if we could finance through them. They had given us a great loan on our SUV when we borrowed against it to pay off some other debts. Likewise, this time they approved us for whatever we wanted, with super low interest rates, and even offered to combine both loans and clear our Hummer. Awesome.

We set out to find a late model Subaru or Volkswagen and I knew we would be given the royal treatment since we were already approved buyers with solid funds, basically a cash sale for the dealers. I knew we would be greeted as liberators, freeing those poor salesmen from the oppression of rejected credit applications.

Oh Lord how we were wrong. The first car we liked was a 2013 Volkswagen Jetta. It was almost closing time on a Saturday evening and we told the salesman we wanted it but would have to come back with a check on Monday. He did everything but cuss us. He begged us to use their financing and refinance it a month later with our own bank.

He became so belligerent we decided to leave, at which point he informed us the deal would not be valid after this date. We kept walking. He chased us down at our car and agreed to extend the deal until Monday. What an awesome guy. We went back in and signed the contract.

The following Monday at noon, after my wife and I rearranged our schedules, we were on our way to the bank to pick up the check and then on to pick up our car. The salesman called and said he couldn't let us have it for that price, the price for which we had a signed contract, if we weren't financing through them.

We called the bank and cancelled the closing and decided to keep looking. Our loan officer was so upset she had her manager call the salesman's manger and he told them how unethical it was. The manager agreed and decided to let us have it at the contracted price.

We rearranged our schedules again. Yes, you guessed it. Before we could pick up the check, the salesman called again, and, in a rather giddy voice, told us he had sold the car to someone else. Yes, our car. Believe it or not, at this point we decided to go to a different dealership. (For the record, this sale fell through and this salesman is still calling and texting today offering us the car.)

We found a 2012 Subaru at another location and made an offer. Well, the offer was for the listed price. They accepted. I also explained what we had been through with the other dealership and salesman. The people at this dealership were appalled at such behavior. We signed a contract for the Subaru and also put down $3,000.

The next morning, before we went to the bank, their finance manager called because he had discovered we were not financing through them. This 20-minute conversation became almost harassing as he tried relentlessly to make us forego our plans and use one of their creditors. I finally became a tad upset and told him we weren't changing our minds. At this point it dawned on me that they must get incredible kickbacks from their lenders.

At noon we called to let them know we were coming to get it. There was only small problem -- the car was no longer there. A branch of the same dealership in Green Bay, WI (the dealership we were working with was in Waukesha, WI), had a customer wanting to see the car so they let them come and take it way up there.

Understand what I'm saying here. We had a signed contract and had paid a $3,000 deposit and were bringing a check for the rest of the amount, but they let that car go 150 miles north so someone else could possibly buy it before us. I'm certain it must have been a buyer offering to finance, and that's when it really sank home how important this is to them. A potential finance sale halfway across the state was more important than a cash sale right here. What a revelation.

Two days later we got a jubilant text from our salesman saying the Subaru didn't sell and was coming home to us. We laughed. We had already gone by the bank and cancelled the check.

Finally, seven days after we started looking, we found a 2013 Volkswagen Passat in our price range. As soon as we sat down with the salesman, I said, "Listen carefully. We already have the financing covered. We will bring you a check for the full amount, minus the down payment, tomorrow. If you mention one word about your financing options, or if we hear one single word from a manger or finance person about it, it's a deal-breaker and we walk."

He made the motion of the lock and key to his lips and, to his credit, never said a word about it nor let anyone else say a word about it. We took them the check today and drove the car home. It's in the driveway right now. Well, last time I checked it was. I guess there's still the possibility that a customer came in looking for a Passat and wanting to finance through the dealer so they sent a tow truck over here.