Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Ma-Ma-Ma-Ma-MY Sedona

Missing Kia Sedona SeatI dodged a three thousand dollar bullet this week. You wanna hear about it?

Remember how I complained that my beloved Ford Windstar gave up the ghost? Well the day after I left my broken shell of a car dead by the side of the road we were cruising the car lots (cruising in the one car still working) looking for ways to toss thousands of dollars out the window.

When there it was: The Car. A 2006 Kia Sedona with 20,000 miles. Great condition, beautiful interior, power windows, power locks, CD player, double doors, 30,000 more miles of warranty, in short everything we wanted in a minivan except the chauffeur to drive it for me. In fact, for about the same price as our old van that we bought six and a half years ago we got a newer, better car with less use and more treats--as in "Wowzers!"

What a steal! We walked up to the office to request the key and take it for a test drive, which was really just a formality. The only way we weren't driving away with that car would have been if it were trailing nuclear waste, the test drive was only a confirmation that THIS was the car for us and that our lives would be incomplete until we had it parked in our garage. I guess you could say we were motivated buyers.

So after half a mile we were in heaven. Then we looked in the back.

I blinked. "Where's the back seat?" I asked Andrew, as if he'd know.

"I don't know," he shrugged. We looked again but it hadn't materialized in the intervening nanosecond. We looked to see if it was stored in some magical "Stow and It's Invisible" storage option but no, the seat was just gone. Not there. Half the back bench was there but the other half was gone with nothing but a dangling seatbelt in memoriam.

We got back to the dealer. "How did you like it?" he asked in that slicky-used-car-dealer way.

"Great! Love it! So, uh, what's the deal with the back seat?"

"What do you mean?" It was as if he wasn't aware that the gaping vacancy in the back row was a disadvantage. He stood there looking at us as if we were freaks to be in the market for a minivan with seven full seats. To me that's the equivalent of a car with only three wheels but obviously he didn't see it that way.

"What's the problem?" he asked. I just stared at him, I mean if the man didn't yet have the picture a dissertation on the merits of having seats for all of your children instead of strapping them to the luggage rack wasn't going to improve the dialog.

We made the situation a little clearer to him but he still acted as if it wasn't a problem. He was all ready to launch into a lecture about how everyone knows that the gap in the back provides so much more storage capacity and a better, more luxurious view. Heck, it was probably worth more without that pesky seat gumming things up.

But of course no one (and I mean NO ONE) buys a minivan without needing lots of seats. If I was in the market for a five-seater I'd be looking at a sedan, right? I've got kids, I need seats so forget the pitch and give me my seat!

He started suggesting things like grabbing a seat from one of the other Kias they had on the lot but nothing matched so we reluctantly left. But I wasn't ready to give up. I called the Kia dealership to see what it would cost to get a new seat. $864. Hold onto those seats folks, they ain't cheap to replace.

So we went back to the lot and we asked them to drop the price $800 to cover the cost of the seat and they readily agreed (I wonder how long that car had sat there missing a seat--no wonder it was such a great price). But no worries, we were thrilled with our new car. Woo hoo! And one with FOUR matching hubcaps that didn't make the "door open" dinging sound for the first five minutes after you start the engine. My standards aren't too high apparently.

Anyway, as soon as the papers were signed I toodled over to the Kia dealership to order that new $864 seat they'd promised. They ran my VIN, they looked at every Kia part in the book, then they told me that not only had they no idea where I'd got that $864 quote from but they couldn't find any seats to match. I fussed and fumed until they found what I needed then hit me with the news that not only would my new factory-direct seat come completely unassembled but it would cost three thousand dollars.

By that point I was ready to come across the desk and go for the parts rep's throat. He must have sensed the danger because he started sweating and glancing at the door to see when his buddy was coming back from break. I explained that not only had I called and confirmed the $864 price but we'd already bought the car based on that quote. I was ready to cause some pain, some serious pain--three thousand dollars worth to be exact.

However, it became readily apparently that my good friend on the other side of the desk was only interested in protecting his vital organs and was ready to call for back up. No help there, so I took matters into my own hands and left. I started calling body shops in town to find out what people on this planet do to replace car parts because, really now, you can't tell me that I'm the only Kia owner in the world who has ever needed to replace a seat. Don't Kias get into car accidents too?

Some body shop guys gave me the website where they look for parts before marking them up 230% and pass the savings onto their customers, car-part.com, which I started frantically searching. I sent out emails to every body shop across the country from Maine to Minnetonka to Maui who even hinted that they might be in possession of that holy grail, my missing Sedona seat. Beige in color. Boy was I twitching--what were the odds that there'd be a place that had the right model seat, with clips instead of tracks, in the left side version, in the right color and for a price that wouldn't destroy the savings we'd made on the car?

The next morning I had two shops respond, saying that they had matching seats but when I called the first one the conversation was a little funny, it went something like, "Well, ma'am, we've got the seat for you but you want it shipped to Alaska? That's gonna cost you more than the seat's worth."

"How much?" I said, cringing, ready for the worst.

"Well the seat's not too bad but it could be as much as two or three to ship it. UPS ain't cheap."

"Two or three what?"

He paused then said in a strange tone of voice that implied he was worried I was going to try to pay him with farm animals, "Two or three hundred."

At this point I didn't want to expose my cards by squealing with delight. I mean, if they knew that I'd hand over my first-born child just to get that seat and that I was so over a barrel that they could ask anything up to three thousand dollars and I'd give it to them freely my advantage would be shot.

So I said in my best impression of a person who'd now be forced to now live out of that very car, "Well, MY that's a lot of money. As much as three hundred you say? Wow, that could mean the seat could end up costing me--gasp for emphasis--four hundred dollars! Well, I guess I'll go ahead and take it . . . maybe . . . should I check with my husband? Well, okay, sure, I'll take it."

They even had it steamed cleaned for me while we were on vacation so it would be sparkling clean. Free of charge because he felt sorry that I was paying so much in shipping. Bottom line? My seat came today for a grand total of $445, giving me a lead of $2555 over Mr. Stupid-face-sweating Kia Man and I walked away with $355 extra after the dealer's mark down.

I love it when a plan comes together. I just don't want to think about how close I came to owning a minivan with only five seats. Pretty useless when you have four kids--the other moms at the school tend to stare when you drive up with the youngest duct-taped to the bike rack on the back. Man I'm lucky.

***

Sandra at an undisclosed location was the winner of a matted photo from TheaC Photography for this week's Saturday Giveaway--so many lovely pictures to choose from!

Technorati tags:

63 comments:

Mrs. Brownstone @ XBOX Wife said...

Ok - I was getting nervous while reading this. Great pace of your story! I'm glad it all worked out for you in the end!

John & Laura said...

I think a lot of people are too lazy to do all that footwork, but it's usually worth it in the end. I got a radiator replaced while I was a poor college student for a fraction of the original estimate, because I called every car repair shop in the yellow pages. Go us! And congrats on the new car!

Kathy in WA said...

Wow - what a tale. I kept worrying you were going to lose the whole deal or the van would turn out to be a dud. Good for you for tracking that seat down. Too funny.

Duckabush Blog

luvmy4sons said...

Wow! Isn't God good...but I KNOW all the angst hidden behind that whole story! A lot of time and effort and work and frustration! I am so glad God came through for you!

Stephanie said...

That is fabulous, well eventually! :)

Jacki said...

I wonder if he would have reacted the same way if the car was missing....say....the steering wheel? He must have taken a good acting class to have made it through that conversation.

Congrats on the new car!!

Edi said...

Great story!

Debra said...

I saw that you were on the blogs of several of my blogging friends so I thought I'd stop by!

First... you are a woman after my own heart! I would go through all that for a deal.

Second, can I hire you in 2 years when we need to upgrade to a full size van?

Third, don't you LOVE it when the planets align?

WTG!

chelle said...

Score one for sheer determination!

Sheila said...

That is just awesome! I'm so glad it came together for you.

Did you ever find out where that $864 quote came from? If you made a big enough fuss at the KIA dealership, I bet they'd give you free oil changes for a bit. Especially if you threatened to write about this far and wide...

Visit To Love, Honor and Vacuum today!

Julie Pippert said...

First, awesome title! Second, awesome story...all the better because of the fab deal that turned out. So glad for you!

Bahama Mama said...

Great story. I HATE shopping for cars and always feel like I don't know enough and will definitely get the short end of the stick. Good for you having the patience to solve your issue.

Jenn @ Frugal Upstate said...

You are just too funny!

Oh, and love the "A Team" quote :)

Jeana said...

I'm so glad it worked out! You tell the story well, and the title is priceless!

Janet said...

Brilliant. I hate car dealers. He definitely missed an acting career with that, "what's wrong with a missing seat?" routine.

Heather said...

That is so great! Good for you on your detective work.

Sea Star said...

We love our Kia Sedona. Congrats on the new car and especially on the new seat!

Marie N. said...

That's an adventure all right! We are not excited to begin our version of a vehicle replacement adventure in June.

My Ice Cream Diary said...

I remember asking a dealer why the gas cap cover was being held closed with a wad of chewing gum wrapper. He gave me that same mystified look. After a pause he started telling us, as if we were little children, how things on cars get old and you just use the quick fix. "Just wedge it in, it works fine. Why let that stop you from buying?" Because, if you consider that a quick fix, I wonder else has been quick fixed under the hood.

Lis Garrett said...

You and my husband should go in business together! I've always told him that he should be a professional car scout. He got an awesome deal on our Toyota Sienna a few years ago, and we ended up paying less for that than our Saturn! We're actually in the market for a newer minivan, and he's been busy doing his homework. Great post! You certainly put in quite the effort to get what you needed. I think my husband would bow down to you!

Daisy said...

Ah, yes, I love it when a plan comes together. :) This, the final result, was according to plan.

angie said...

Oh, you are lucky. Too bad you had to go through all that you did to get that seat though......I'm surprised the neighborhood moms look at your strangely when you pull up with a duct taped kid on your van. Mine never do. Weird. LOL.

Deb - Mom of 3 Girls said...

Wow. I'm so glad that you were able to find a seat in the end, however entertaining it would've been to watch you drive around with a kid duct-taped to the luggage rack though... ;)

Congrats on the wheeling and dealing and making everything work out so well!

Pieces said...

Man, that's a great story! I'm so glad that it ended so well. My blood pressure started going up when you got to the part about $3,000 for the new seat. "But she already bought the car!!!!" my insides screamed. Whew. I'm so relieved now.

Lissete said...

First of all, congrats on the car! I am glad that everything worked out!

Thanks for the laughs too! I had a mental picture of your poor kid duct taped to the car! Oh, and thanks to you, I shall have Ma,ma,ma, MY Sharona buzzing in my head all day! :)

Kelly @ Love Well said...

I pity da fool who gets between you and a Sedona seat.

Nice work, Michelle. You can be on my team any day.

Tara said...

wow... nicely done! And I must tell you that you write fabulously well! Thanks.

An Ordinary Mom said...

I loved this post! I somehow knew it would have a happy and bargain-related ending because after all, it is the all-powerful Scribbit we are dealing with :) !!

Patience and persistence definitely pays off. Now lets hope that also holds true with my husband's dissertation and funding woes ...

Enjoy your van. We love ours.

occupation: mommy said...

What a great story. I am so impressed at your bargain-hunting prowess!

Gina said...

whewww, that was a close call,eh?

I'm glad that everything turned out fine, and that the youngest is saved from being duct- taped to the bike rack =)) of the minivan.

Shalee said...

I totally needed you when looking for our car a couple of weeks ago... Next time I need one, I think you should come to KC for a vacation!

Yay! I'm so glad that God got you a new seat and a car at a steal!

page2 said...

Great story! I'm so glad you got the cheap seat and came out ahead. Congratulations on your new van.

Motherhood for Dummies said...

That Kia rep was lucky that you didn't start spitting venom at him! I don't think he had any idead how close to danger that he really was! :) ha ha

Marketing Mama said...

Wow - what a story - good for you for finding an alternative!!! I'm so glad it worked out! :)

high-heels and a sippy-cup said...

I was noticing your hot new ride the other day and now that I know the story behind the wheels I must say a big CONGRATULATIONS to you. Ya'll deserve it!

Tim Appleton (Applehead) said...

that would be something that would so happen to us....

Jen at Semantically driven said...

Phew, all's well that ends well. I can't believe one brand new seat could have cost you sooo much.

Childlife said...

Well, that was a close one! I love how the dealer tried to sell you on the concept of that valuable extra storage space - LOL! Good for you and your resourcefulness :)

elena jane said...

congrats on your new van AND the seat!! what a lot of legwork too...what a relief to get it at last.
great deal on the van, we need a larger (than our seats 7) van and the deals they offered were just not enough....

Jenna Consolo said...

This was AWESOME! Great story telling! I love the Mr. Stupid-face-sweating Kia man! What ingenius problem-solving skills you have! You deserve that money-saving deal!

cheeky said...

hilarious!
glad it worked out and you came out ahead. heck, too bad it wasn't missing all the seats. that could have been a really good deal. ;)

Linda said...

I already knew how smart you were because you referenced the Knack in the title of this post. But now, I bow down to you, O Great Bartering Mom in the Land of the Midnight Sun. You are awesome.

MommyTime said...

Seriously, who sells a mini van missing a seat and thinks that's normal? That's lunacy. You, on the other hand, are a genius. Nice work with the bargaining and the problem resolution. If you ever need a new career, you should probably become a real estate agent! :)

Jerri Dalrymple said...

WOW! That is an amazing story! Thanks so much for sharing it with us! :0)

Py Korry said...

Whew, I love a happy ending! :)

tjhirst said...

Thanks for the laugh. I really did laugh (sorry I'm sure you weren't laughing).

Melissa Markham said...

Way to go on a great deal on the vehicle and the seat! A little bit of leg work can go a long way!

Thrifty Karen said...

Goodness. That's quite a story. I was going to suggest a salvage yard, but looks like you have it all taken care of. I'm glad it didn't cost you an arm and a leg. lol

Adam Hyman said...

haha - missing seats! great story.

I miss Alaska :(

chickadee said...

what a deal!
i actually have a seat to a pontiac montana. think anyone would buy that from me?

Val said...

I bought a minivan to transport my two Cocker Spaniels in. Really... I'm not kidding.

Irene said...

Oh, I hate buying cars. HATE it. We always buy used....very used. But our last few cars we bought through ebay. Worked out great - great price, great car, and we got to avoid dealing with the dreaded "used car salesman".

Glad it worked out so well for you!

Shannon said...

Hey thanks for stopping by.
Make sure you come back as I am going to get some Easter pictures up of Tristan, this was his first Easter.

Let me tell you...I used to work for Chrysler,Jeep and Dodge Customer Service call center and took complaints because the dealerships were always proviing wrong information.
I think the sales guy just told you some bu**s*it to get you in the car. I'm glaf you were able to find a seat though and if you went back to the guy at the dealership and showed him the seat, SHOW HIM THE RECIEPT of what you paid for it!!! That would be a priceless look. I get ya though, I would want to know where "my seat" was..
Great blog!

Meshellyn said...

What a good ending, I was getting nervous! Your persistence paid off well. We're in the market for a minivan and hadn't looked at Sedonas, are you loving it? Congrats on the awesome deal!

The Estrogen Files said...

You totally rock!! Great deal, awesome story. Good for you!

Patty W said...

OMG !! I'm sure I would of hurt the salesmen...probably many times over !!!

You showed alot of restraint! Glad to hear it all worked out in the end!

Hotomom said...

Way too work those fingers. I totally do the exact same thing and then feel so proud for just having a little patience to see it through.

dcrmom said...

Oh my gosh that is FUH-REAKING hilarious. Well, it's only hilarious b/c it worked out so well in the end.

The blog fodder almost makes it worth the trouble, eh? ;-)

Amber (Proverbs31) said...

Hilarious read! Sorry for your troubles, but hey, it's great for entertaining your readers!

Awesome that you found one for such a great price, and I loved the way you worded your comments when he told you how much it was. It's great. :)

Terri said...

Great story! I was enthralled. And what a satisfying ending.

deborah said...

What a time you had there! I'm so glad you had the upper hand in that one. Amazing the mark-up; what a market. Good for you

Alice Wills Gold said...

Yes, this was the awesome power of a blogger in action...so proud of you. And, I am in love with your writing style..I am adding you to my blogroll.

Damselfly said...

Buying a car without a back seat -- you are brave, brave, brave! Love how you played the last guy about shipping the seat. You win! So what did you do with the $400 you saved? Or would that be $2600?