Sunday 11 July 2010

Cutting out the Middle Man

“I'll be the woman standing in the driveway with a bag over her head”, I said hurriedly to the roadside assistance operator, in what was my second phone call for the day.

My efforts to cut out the middle man clearly wasn’t getting off to such a great start.

You see I've just bought a new car and rather than trade in my old car for next to nothing I thought I would sell it privately.

As my car had been sitting in the garage for a while I rang roadside assistance to get the tyres checked (I didn’t trust that I wouldn’t get a flat if I drove it to the garage and I still don’t know how to change a tyre).

A smiling and eager Mr Roadside Assistance 2010 came within minutes and pumped up the tyres and checked the battery, oil and water. However, he hadn't driven out of the driveway for more than ten minutes when I realised I had somehow locked the keys in the car. Duh!! Hence my second rather embarrassed call was made in the space of half an hour. When he came back he didn’t even give me a 'for god sake you’re pathetic' look or ask if I was stalking him. He just smiled and rescued the keys.

With that debacle over, I put up a 'for sale' ad on a popular car website.

Within hours of putting up the ad I started to get calls. All from young guys.

The only problem was they weren’t interested in the things I could tell them, like colours, kilometres, style and sentimentality. They only wanted to know about engine specs and foreign sounding parts, all of which I didn’t know much about.

All I could tell them was that the car had just had a service; it had a roadworthy certificate and if they were interested they should come round and take it for a test drive.

What an eye opener.

Without any exaggeration I had three guys come one after the other who all did the same thing. They circled the car several times very slowly, staring at it intently as if they had x-ray vision. Looking for scratches, defects, rust and signs of damage. They then opened the bonnet and examined and prodded every part of the engine. They started it up; let it run for a while then.....finally..... took it for a test drive. A test drive which was SO LONG I thought I would have to phone the police and report a stolen car.

On their return, each of them asked, “So, it’s seems ok, what‘s the lowest price you will take?” To each of them I said, "I've researched this in detail, I’m not going any lower”. They each left saying they had other cars to look at and they would get back to me. And they all did - by text. With yet more questions about parts that meant nothing to me.

THEN it happened.

I got a call from a woman. What colour are the seats? Tell me about the interior? How much room is in the boot? Can I come and have a look?

Yes, yes, yes, I said. She came around straight away. First, she looked at the inside of the car. She took a look outside. She took it for a test drive. She checked the roadworthy certificate and service history. She bought it on the spot and we signed contracts. An hour later, she paid me cash without quibbling about the price and drove the car away. All done and dusted. Easy.

Ten minutes later I got a text from one of the guys asking about fuel consumption....

I've decided that the next time I sell a car I’m going to do more than just cut out the middle man. I’m going to cut out men altogether.
Well maybe not all men.

You see, my new car comes with five years free roadside assistance and ...there are some men I just can't do without.


  1. Oh I love this, this is classic!

  2. This was a lovely story. I love the woman who bought your car.

  3. Oh dear that made me laugh~!

    I so agree with you ....and all my questions would have been about colour and cuteness.

  4. I love your story and how you tell it.

    I am attached to my car. I think I would feel so sad the day I have to let it go. It is 14 years old.

  5. You are absolutely spot on with this post Lilly. Why is it that men can't just accept a roadworthy certificate? I think they ask all these technical/mechanical questions to impress...I don't think they have a clue what they're talking about really.

  6. Oh good! You're letting us make comments now because I wanted to tell you that I loved this story! Too, too funny. I wish Art were awake now so he could read it. I'm so glad you got the price you were asking for. However, I was wondering what kind of car it was to generate so much interest.

  7. What a coincidence, Lilly. We too bought a new car a few months ago, and were trying to sell our 38 year old car, which is now almost like an antique. We finally decided to donate it to an Institute, that trains fellows as automobile mechanics. They needed a car to demonstrate basic stuff, take things apart and put them together again, and turns out our car was simply perfect.... Modern cars are like Shakira; Older ones are like Roberta Flack....:-)

  8. Oh, this is so funny! And a true look at the difference between guys and women when it comes to cars.

  9. Hi Lily, love your lively sense of humour....and enjoyed your adventures trying to sell it....guess men most like that. Include me, ha ha.

    Thats a beautiful car you have in the pic.
    Have a nice day and keep a song in your heart....Lee.
    ps, did you follow the men when they took it for a test drive?

  10. so happy you were able to sell the car to just the right person (woman)! great story.

  11. God bless women!
    They ask just the right questions.
    So glad that you had it sold so you could text those guys a big SOLD!!!
    We donated a car last year, I think and they did give us a tax write off. We felt good giving it to women that needed a car to get to work.
    Then a few months later, the charity sent us another $1000 tax slip. That felt good too!
    Have a good week Lily!

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  13. My family usually just drive the car to death. Then our mechanic takes it off our hands for about $100 (that's about $114 Australian)

  14. She is a beauty ~ so is your post!

  15. cash - good choice given your past bank episodes.

    There was a time I enjoyed the challenge of car trading but not anymore.

    Maybe you never noticed but the TV car commercials have changed. Often you will not even see the real car in the commercial. They use a animated computer generated version. Like most things I believe the marketers (few clowns short of circus) believe most of the future cars will be purchased by women.

  16. I could love this story just for the use of the words "bonnet" and "boot" to describe the car! How absolutely precious. We have "hoods" and "trunk" - blah, boring. Must have been thought of by a man.

    Loved the story - Yeah for you, Lilly!

  17. Come on, you don't expect me to buy a car without asking about the triple-carb-fuel-injector thingy-ma-jig with the double exhaust and laid back recaro bucket seats ??

  18. Hahaha! Its funny that these guys are asking you this stuff. The internet is there for them ask all about all those specifications. They should've just came to see if they like the look and feel. Glad somebody sane bought it.

  19. Very funny and a good example of the differeneces between men and women.

  20. Lilly and her wonderful sense of humor are back, much love to you!

  21. We are thorough that's why and we like to know what we are paying for and.. and... are so right.

  22. I just read this and remembered you posted some stories about Italy and traveling there. So I figure you should check it out. --
    all Italian women, unless they are ANCIENT, wear good-looking shoes. They are genetically engineered with both the desire to possess good leather and the ability to walk in fabulous shoes in impossible conditions.
    -- the above came from a blog post about Italy.
    Here's the link info

  23. Like they say - men are from Mars, women are from Venus, etc., etc. (but I for one wouldn't have it any other way)... ;)

  24. Lovely post.
    But, Lilly, what a great way to meet men! I'll recommend selling a car as a way to meet men to some of my younger friends who are so inclines and might want to play the technical game with the fellas.

  25. LOVE IT!!! Great story, Lilly....And I'm with you. Cut out the middle man and most other men,, like you said...we need some of them sometimes.)

  26. Ah, I can so relate...I am currently selling my SUV and until you mentioned it I hadn't thought much about it. Every one of the people that have contacted me have been MEN. And you are so dead-on right about what you are saying...they are doing all of the above. Where is my WOMAN buyer?????


Thanks for your comments.