Thoughts on Car Buying

2000My sometimes hated (but mostly beloved) minivan is no longer in my possession. After a few days of car shopping, I traded it in for a used Toyota. The van, a Honda Odyssey, was sixteen years old, so I suppose it was time. Still, it ran beautifully on the way to the dealership, so that drive was bittersweet. On the way, I passed by a yard sale, offering bikes and other things I might have purchased, because having things to do at Grandma’s house is where I am in life, but I didn’t stop, knowing that those items would probably not fit in the trunk of the sedan I was planning to purchase.

Buying a car has changed since I bought my first vehicle, that’s for sure. Now, the first contact is often online. Whether one picks the “chat” function or sends an email, there will soon be a contact. The phone starts ringing. Go in for a test drive, and (in Athens, Georgia) there is a mandatory meeting with the “sales manager.” Then, a couple of times, I got an email to see if the salesman met my expectations.

After I finally said I might be interested in a used Honda, I got an offer of $500 for my old van. As it has been more truck than family vehicle for a while, with the typical bumps and scrapes associated with that duty, I wasn’t expecting much. But, that deal had me paying more than the maximum KBB value on the seller’s car, with half the typical auction estimate on mine. Really, that wasn’t what I wanted to hear.

Eventually, I ended up at a more rural dealership which didn’t use the “meet the manager” approach. I got $900 for my old van, which was still a very low number, and a newer car for less money. Oh, and I got to keep the new to me car overnight and take it for an inspection prior to purchase. The dealer even gassed it up for us before the extended test drive.

After I’ve had this vehicle for a while, I guess I will know if it was a good purchase. But, I can say that the pressure to buy was less out in the country. In the mean time, I guess I’ll be looking for some accessories for the “new to me” ride.

Claimed by the Warlord— a quick review

WarlordRecently, I read a science-fiction/fantasy romance by Maddie Taylor entitled Claimed by the Warlord. Overall, this novel was a good read, but some reviewers gave it a thumbs down due to the “discipline” used on the heroine. And, I totally get that, as the character didn’t really do much to warrant that behavior on the part of the alpha male. On the other hand, I read (some years ago) the science fiction series by Sharon Green which begins with The Warrior Within (Terrilian Book 1) wherein there is one heck of a lot of love/abuse in the tumultuous relationship between the heroine and her lover. I’d call this one “Sharon Green lite” in terms of spanking. There’s not much else for the “me, too” set to object to. However, this novel does have other, somewhat graphic, scenes associated with the precarious situation that sets the action of the novel in motion. Indeed, the author’s ability to describe the effects of terror inducing situations upon Princess Aurelia is the best part of the novel.

As many stories do, this one begins in medias res, where the Princess has been captured, auctioned to the highest bidder, and awaits her fate at his hands. There is intrigue and treachery aplenty, and the plot does have some twists and turns. Although this is more romance than science fiction or fantasy, it has enough suspense to keep readers swiping the electronic pages. The author does have a way of making the cold seem colder, the hot seem hotter, and the terror seem, well…I’m sure you get the picture.

For readers who like a blend of steamy hot romance, a dash of space opera, a good sprinkling of fantasy, and some scenes that are not necessarily comfortable (but totally fictional) then Claimed by the Warlord is a good read. For readers who are made of sterner stuff, Sharon Green’s Terrilian series is now available in eBook form, as well as in  vintage paperback.

 

Wedding $

A while back, I was in Target, shopping for some trinkets for the kids, and I saw a couple of “bigger kids” who were obviously getting married. The young woman was trying to keep her groom to be under control as they went around the store, with a handheld bar code scanner, generating their wedding registry. In one way, it was sad, watching this guy scan games and other items which had no real place on a registry. To him, creating a wedding registry was obviously like making a list for Santa Claus—on steroids. The young lady seemed more interested in finding items that they might actually need. As I watched them, I chuckled, hopefully silently, watching this guy run around the store, trying to pack as many of his preferred items onto that list before his bride wrested the scanner away.

Today, however, there might be a better plan—Amazon. There are some great benefits to this program, including a huge selection of items, the ability to share with friends and family who might not live near a chosen brick and mortar store, free shipping, 180 day returns, and Amazon will even generate a “Thank you” list. And, yes, the groom can list his favorite video games as purchase options. Hopefully, with some time to think about it, the bride and groom can pick items that help them create a new household, without the wrestling match over the bar code scanner.

I’ve noticed that my own kids, who are now young adults, would much rather order anything online. My daughter will pore over the toppings offered by Pizza Hut, sometimes taking a quarter of an hour to build the perfect pie. Truly, I am amazed at the way the internet has altered the shopping experience. I live near a “Carvana” facility, and I simply can’t imagine buying a car without a test drive, but they will gladly bring a nicely detailed used car right to the customer’s door.

Weddings are bigger business now. Venues charge in the thousands for a few hours of their time, and catering and a d.j. are the norm. At least, with Amazon’s wedding registry, guests might be able to provide appropriate gifts, with a minimum of hassle.