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: Kia, cars