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I had a lot of anxiety about beginning the car buying experience. We choose to finance through a credit union, so we’re pre-approved to pay with a draft, but the entire negotiating experience is enormously stressful for me, and I actually drove my last sedan for 15 years to avoid the trade in buying/selling experience. About a year before we moved here, we traded in my husband’s sedan for a newer model compact car in Oklahoma, and it was a nightmare experience, taking about 10 hours one Saturday. I REALLY wasn’t looking forward to that again. Nick did a great deal of research, determining which SUV he wanted. We wanted to get a pre-owned vehicle that still had a warranty available on it, with low mileage, to last a few years. After thoroughly searching, he took a child with him to test drive a few models. They love that quality time with dad, and I refused to go to ANY dealers until he selected the final choice.
He visited a few dealers and saw some vehicles he was ok with, but wanted to test drive a model at the Grappone Ford dealership in Bow, NH. This is about 45 minutes from where we live, so we loaded up the kids and went to look at the vehicle. I sat in it but didn’t want to go through the hassle of moving car seats etc, so he test drove it with the salesperson, Ruth. I was taking over his compact car, he was moving up to the SUV because I LIKE driving a smaller vehicle. I’ll admit, I was shocked at how friendly the staff was, and that they offer haggle-free negotiations. I was certain that haggle free equated to you’re going to pay our higher price and that’s just how it is. I was shocked to find out that the haggle free price was actually a few thousand dollars lower than a similar model at a competitor. Additionally, they threw in free annual state inspections, a warranty, and deals on service at their dealership. We were trading in my 15-year-old car that was still at home, 45 minutes away. We didn’t take it with us because we didn’t plan on actually making a deal on this excursion. The used car dealer gave us a VERY generous offer on my car, site unseen, and a quote from another online site that buys cars too. They even offered to send some people to our house to pick it up a few days later, so we didn’t have to drive a car with mechanical problems all the way back to Bow.
Once I signed the papers for the trade, I went outside to wait in the car, because if you recall, buying a car = stress for me. I was settled in, with snacks for the kids, prepared to wait hours. 30 minutes later, Nick came outside and told me to empty the car and move everything over to the new SUV. I was SHOCKED. 30 minutes and done? It didn’t seem possible. Since we had a draft with us, the trade in was generous and accepted easily, and the price was no haggle, all he had to do was sign the paperwork. Grappone won me over and I wasn’t even in the building! Each time we needed maintenance or inspection, I made an appointment online and drove it up. It was a very easy and pleasant experience, which is so uncommon, yet very appreciated.
Two years passed, and we decided to trade in the SUV for a brand new model. Nick knew exactly what he wanted, and when he drove up to Grappone Toyota in Bow, he happened upon another fantastic salesperson, Taylor Thorne. She has such an energetic personality, is very knowledgeable about cars, and remarkably patient. This poor girl searched NATIONWIDE for Nick’s vehicle of choice. The specific vehicle, specs, and color he wanted was in high demand. She was able to locate a couple, but they were either already sold to customers of the dealership in possession, or the other dealers just refused to do a dealer trade. Ultimately we ended up at another Boston area Toyota dealership to purchase the one he ended up with. They had one on the way, so he was on the lot the day it arrived to sign the paperwork. It wasn’t the Grappone experience, but the salespeople and office personnel were friendly and helpful.
The experiences we’d had buying new vehicles here was so stress-free, that I even agreed to make the much-needed transition from compact car to Minivan because we truthfully NEEDED the space. We felt bad that Taylor wasn’t able to get the sale for our other vehicle, even though I don’t think they work on commission at Grappone, and wanted her to help us with this purchase. Knowing that this would be the vehicle that I would be driving, Nick made me do the research on which make/model/features I wanted. Normally, he handles all of that, but he felt it was important that I begin to participate in the process. Since the stress of the situation was gone, I really didn’t have an excuse anymore. I put on my big girl pants and began to research vehicles.
When I began to do my research, and we discussed my findings, it became very clear that as a female, I was researching very different things than Nick researches as a guy. He’s interested in horsepower, cylinders, torque, wheel design, tire specs, and all other technical and performance aspects. I was interested in safety ratings, MPG (how long between fill ups in harsh weather!), how comfortable it was to ride in, how easy it was to see around me, how easy/difficult is it to park, storage space for groceries and sports gear, how easy to load/unload children, quantity and location of cupholders, you know, the safety and interior convenience features.