An unexpected car-buying experience

Andrea Joseph

Well, I did it. Anyone who reads my column regularly knows I’ve been considering letting go of my little, red SUV. As much as I loved “Tara,” after nearly 13 years, she was a bit nerve-racking to drive.
So I finally bit the bullet and bought a new car, which I’ve named “Daisy.” (Regular readers also know I come from a long line of car-naming people.)
Although I hadn’t really planned on buying a new car until next year, I’d been doing research for some time, looking into various vehicles, checking reviews, safety ratings and prices. My price bracket was limited, but I eventually narrowed it down to Ford and Mazda. A couple of my colleagues have Mazda sedans and my mom recently purchased a Mazda SUV.
On the other hand, I was leaning toward Ford. I was aware that Ford was the only major car company that did not accept government money in 2009. There’s a lot more to that issue, of course, but the company—from what I understand—basically pulled itself up from its bootstraps. I connect with that sort of attitude.
After lots of consideration and comparison, I contacted The Ford Store in Morgan Hill—which was highly recommended to me by several different people—to get some questions answered.
I was promptly called by Mario Rodriguez, a sales consultant who helped me understand the ins and outs of possibly trading in Tara and guided me into finding the right car to replace her.
Via email and phone, I let him know what I wanted—and what I didn’t. On my requirement list was Bluetooth capability, which is pretty standard these days, and four doors. A big no-no for me was leather interior: Perhaps that’s unusual, but I don’t like the way it feels, how it soaks up temperature and how its slickness causes my dog Bailey, her bed and her blanket to slip and slide around the backseat.
I also had my eye on a white exterior, but I’d be open to any color in a lighter shade. Though I love stick shift, I wanted an automatic transmission, just for the ease and simplicity of city driving.
And then, of course, all the little, non-essential things I crossed my fingers for: a big glove compartment, automatic lights, a fuel gauge that lets you know how many more miles you can go, a nice storage compartment in the center console.
But, of course, all these things were dependent on price; I know certain things make the cost increase (automatic) and others decrease (cloth or non-leather interior). So I did my best to not really set my heart on anything and told myself to just wait and see.
Two days after initially talking to Mario, I decided to head over to The Ford Store in Morgan Hill to finally take a look—in person—at potential vehicles and kick the tires.
I was prepared to purchase. But I don’t appreciate being pressured or made to feel like an idiot, so I have no problem saying “thanks, but no thanks” if I’m uncomfortable.
I was greeted in the lot by someone, and I asked for Mario, who had been so accommodating and helpful up to that point.
“Everyone asks for Mario,” the man said with a hearty laugh, then headed off to find him.
The second vehicle Mario showed me—a 2014 white Ford Focus hatchback—actually made me giddy inside. I fought back the excitement as we took it for a spin along Morgan Hill roads, U.S. 101 and then back to the lot.
Could I see myself driving this particular car for the next—hopefully—12-plus years? Absolutely. It had nearly every little thing I desired, so it was now up to Mario and his colleagues to meet my payment plan requirements.
Would they? Could they?
Mario was super friendly, easygoing, non-pressuring (they’re basically non-commissioned), made me feel like I mattered, informative and efficient.
Even in the few weeks I’ve had my new Ford, he’s remained in touch via email, checking in to see if I have any questions. He’s made it clear that I’m free to email, call or text if I need anything, and wants to be sure I’m perfectly happy with my purchase.
And so far I am. Now I’m one of the people who would highly recommend The Ford Store, just as it was recommended to me.
As I drove off the lot, I felt a tinge of sadness leaving Tara behind in my rearview mirror, but couldn’t help to think to myself, “We sure had a great run.”
Now the adventure continues; road trips with Bailey in the backseat and me behind the wheel, driving Miss Daisy.

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