Saturday, September 6, 2014

Car Shopping and Dealer Loyalty

There were a number of years in the late 80's when I was a struggling single mom. It was always necessary to be very enterprising in order to get those little 'extras' to help feed and entertain my family. Fortunately, we lived in an expanding suburban neighbourhood where there were frequent opportunities. The local newspaper was extremely helpful with their advertisements and articles describing weekly giveaways and promotions. One gas station opening provided free hamburgers while allowing people to spin a wheel and win a prize. A newly built bank served a *** coin cake which reminded me of some childhood birthday parties. We each had our slice and the children dutifully handed over the cash for mom to clean off and pocket. Despite not owning a pool or having any intention of purchasing one, we went to a swimming pool store anniversary celebration where we consumed hot dogs and fished in a makeshift pond for our new pet, a goldfish.

When a Ford dealership, Marigold Ford, in a neighbouring town advertised Toronto Argo tickets to anyone who test drove one of their new cars I jumped at the chance. The date of the game happened to coincide with my son's birthday. I loaded up the kids in my 10 year old LTD and headed for the dealership. I suppose I had some kind of a desperate or perhaps deceptive look as I entered the dealership...tired woman, two small children attached at the hip. A kindly salesperson asked whether I was actually in the market for a car or whether I just wanted the football tickets. I answered honestly. He handed over 4 tickets and said, "Remember us when you are ready for a new vehicle". I did.

My first 'very own' car purchase from Marigold was a Ford Escort. It was a bottom of the line, Pacific green, standard shift, no air conditioning, crank window model that I bought on Christmas Eve 1997. The ad line "I love my Escort" certainly became the case for me. It was a reliable, comfortable car, served my needs and the price was right.

My next vehicle came from the very same dealer. At this point, I was older, more financially secure and interested in comfort. Since the clutch on the Escort was starting to protest and I had no desire to replace it, I selected my car from the lot as I drove past one day. I had seen it before. It was beautiful. I wanted that sage green, sun/moon roofed, spoiler, power everything, air conditioned Focus, and I got it. This turned out to be the best car I had ever owned.

I hated to part with the Focus when I gave it to my daughter so that she might get to school, athletic activities and to work just over four years ago. Currently, it's sitting in our driveway having recently returned from an educational journey to Champaign, Illinois. It's making some sounds of protest, but who amongst us as we age don't?  Hopefully, a few tweaks, a bit of oil and some inexpensive replacement parts and it will be good to keep for a bit longer.

The Focus has seen a lot, done a lot, and travelled a lot. It gave me much joy and reminds me of the dealership that had nothing to gain when they were once so willing to give me tickets to a football game. On the other hand, what they eventually gained, was a loyal and thankful customer.

***Coin cakes were the highlight of birthday parties when I was a kid. They were cakes with money baked into them and you were always assured of getting some in your slice. Of course, pieces had to be eaten with care. Now that I think about it more carefully, ewwwww, yuck.....I wonder if the money was laundered first.

1 comment:

  1. I remember my Mom making those cakes for our birthdays. She always wrapped them in tin-foil first. I miss those cakes...