It’s Only A Bottle of Chaaaaarrrrdonay

‘It’s only a bottle of chaaarrrrdonnay a week’ she was saying as my mind was working on how to discreetly gaffer tape the woman’s lips together without the rest of the people in the customer service lounge of the car yard noticing. The solid 15 mins of dribble coming from her mouth was slowly engulfing my head in a thick gelatin mass. Through this wet coating of salesperson type diarrhoea I could vaguely make out my wife pleading me with her eyes to somehow get us the heck out of there….. but we had actually succeeded and its now official. My new little car is on its way and I thought I might reflect on the lovely experience of its purchase. But first of all why the new car you might ask, well here’s a some background.

Late in 2001 my wife and I were driving around a couple of different cars, I won’t go into a whole history of our cars but at that point we had a little runaround 1982 Daihatsu Charade and a Ford EA Fairmont. Some might argue but the Fairmont was a good car, ours was in really nice condition and we had recently spent quite a lot of money on the engine so we were quite happy with it. Friends of ours had just moved to Brisbane and we thought we’d all go late night shopping at Indooroopilly Shoppingtown. After a quite relaxing jaunt around the glitter and glam that was Indooroopilly Shoppingtown in 2001 we entered the multilevel car park to return to the car.

Everyone knows this feeling….You are traipsing up and down a car park thinking I’m sure we parked here and being with a group of people everyone had a different opinion of exactly where we parked ‘It was K6 I’m sure, ‘No it was J6’. Anyway after walking around the deserted car park for about half an hour (and its not even that big) we realised that it wasn’t there. Now if anyone has had a car stolen you know its not the first thing you think of, has it been towed, mysteriously spirited away, but no it had been stolen. After a long walk to what we thought was the police station but turned out to be the ‘old’ police station we walked back up the hill reported it stolen and got a lift home.

Early Saturday morning I was awakened by a phone call from the police saying they had found our car, burnt out, about 50klms from Indooroopilly. We went and checked it out, felt quite violated and thought ‘crap’ we need a car. After examining the finances and having a look at the Saturday papers we went out and bought an ‘on special’ Daewoo Lanos with no research and a very short test drive. Now this is not the way I make huge purchases, usually doing a lot of talking to different people and Googling, but nevertheless we had ourselves a new cheap Korean car.

The Lanos has served me well over the last 8 years, surprisingly we have had to spend very little money on it apart from tyres, services and the like. It has been among other things a good ‘gig’ car, though only a hatchback I have had all manner of bass amps, drum kits, pa systems, lighting rigs and other rock ‘n roll items in the back of the little red car and it has never skipped a beat driving to gigs all over SE Qld. But lately, little what I call flaws in the wonderful Korean craftsmanship have started to appear. Items had started to snap off, like the ‘aerial’, various knobs and other minor knick knacks which seemingly have not much to do with the actual running of the vehicle. Of course other little things had begun to go wrong with it mechanically and I knew that something big might be coming.

It wasn’t really that big of a thing to go wrong but lets just say that it was the final straw. I jumped in the Lanos a couple of weeks ago to drive to a quite cool Sunday afternoon gig up the coast. It was one of those 32+ degrees, hot, muggy, but pouring down rain summer days and having loaded up the car I began driving. After a few minutes something peculiar occurred to me… I was still sweating,  I checked again, my hands blindly feeling my face, yep still sweating. I had also noticed something else. The car in front of me was driving inside a foggy cloud wow I thought, you don’t see that everyday, then I was literally blown away. There was another car beside me also inside a cloud, now this was getting interesting but the river of sweat had just tipped over the precipice that was my brow, stinging my eyes making its way like a flooded river to the neck of my nice clean shirt. Then it hit me like hot wind in the face,  except that it was hot wind in the face, coming out of the supposed air conditioning vents causing my windows to fog up. I instantly did a systems check; stereo: off as the cd player hadn’t worked since 2005 and there was no aerial check, accelerator pedal: my foot was still at the unnatural what I call South Korean Angle on the pedal as it seems people in Korea only have up to size 5 feet, check, air conditioning….air conditioning … my hand waving in front of the vents like some drunken royal on a balcony…. within protocol but abnormally frantic. The little green AC light was still on, the fan was cranked but I might as well of been standing in front of an oven, this was not  good.  There are certain things that you just get used to; eating cereal for breakfast(even though its terrible), advertising on television, going to work and having an air conditioned car. Don’t get me wrong I had driven around in my non air conditioned 1987 Pintara through a lot of my 20s and used to be quite accustomed to no air con, maybe I was getting old, but this was bad.

I opened the window, torrential water rained in on me, saturating my arm and the inside of the door, hmmm better close it. Reaching across to the passenger door to try and open the window driving at 100klm/h I’ve now realised is quite dangerous but I was desperate,  my outstretched arm inched down the window with another little Korean plastic knob, please don’t snap now I silently willed. I then started looking around the car for something to wipe the inside of the windshield…there was nothing but an old chip packet, it would have to do. Let me tell you that simultaneously smearing stale chip crumbs while trying to wipe off condensation does not work. The driver’s window would have be be opened. Over the next 20 mins I got used to a saturated right arm and peering through the foggy chip crumbs until I made it onto the single carriage way and the rain eased off, I could open the window fully now.

The next few seconds were the kind that happened in slow motion. Up ahead a large truck was coming towards me, I think I saw the large puddle or filthy road lake as I will now call it forever before the truck driver did. His front wheel went straight into the filthy road lake and the filthy road lake ceased to exist.  A thousand droplets of dirty road water came straight in my open window wetting my entire face and glassess making my slightly clean t-shirt considerably dirtier. The rest of the journey thankfully was uneventful.  By the end of the gig it was still about 30’C and let me just say it was such an enjoyable sweaty and foggy windscreened journey home i couldn’t stand to be in that car for another second. That was it, we were getting a new car, the repair quote on the ac turned out to be about a grand and we decided it was time to start doing some heavy duty new car research.

After a lot of test driving, car yard stalking and googling of a number of small and slightly larger cars I settled on the car we would probably buy. Again there was a special on, and again it was Korean, yes I know but it did win quite a number of car of the year awards and had a 5 star safety rating (though I had survived 8 years in the 2 star rating of the Lanos). Yep the Hyundai i30 it was going to be.

I rang  the local Hyundai dealer to get some more information and was immediately put through to the head of sales and received some very helpful information. I was very impressed with his genuine level of service and booked a test drive for the following day, knowing full well that if it went well we would probably purchase the car.

My wife and I promptly arrived at the dealership at the appointed time the next day and had another closer look at the i30, now knowing all of the important ‘specs’. We were greeted by another salesperson who knew our names and apologised that the other gentleman we had been dealing with was busy but he would be happy to help us and do any deal we had talked about with the other guy. It takes a special kind of person to be a successful car salesperson. This guy was right on the mark, genuine, letting the customer ‘guide’ the conversation and friendly but in a normal way. After the test drive, on which we decided we would buy the car were kindly ushered to the very comfortable customer lounge complete with rolling armchairs and glass vistas of shiny new vehicles.

We proceeded through the sale during which the salesperson would momentarily disappear to his office and complete forms, enter data, check stock and do other strange things which seem to be important enough to occur in his office(why they don’t have a laptop on the desk of the lounge I’m not sure) but it dit make it seem quite exciting and important I guess. At some stage during this period  an instantly annoying woman came over and introduced herself and offered us a drink. I kind of ignored her in my own special way, only thinking please don’t come back send someone else with the drinks, little did I know what would come next.

After all of the signing was done, our excellent salesperson promptly stood up and said he would bring back the After Sales Consultant or some such jargon to go through the after sale ‘options’ available. I turned around in my chair only to see the ‘drinks’ woman return and introduce herself as whatever she was. I had to take notice of her now, then she started to speak, and my head started to hurt, really hurt. She was in her late 50s, way to overdressed for Tuesday morning at a car yard, a kind of permanent botox driven half smile, and a saccharine leering voice that soon became as painful as someone attacking your nose with a cheese grater. She handed us a shiny pamphlett with all of the latest protectants, finishes, Diamond this, Gold that type of stuff you would consider for a new car and explained that she gets a commission from it. In my mind I did a calculation about our current small car and that if we kept this one for 8 years the miniscule difference  in the market value it would have made if we had all this protection wouldn’t really make it worth it.

All of this thinking was taking me to a wonderful place far far away from the syrupy bleached blonde spinster in front of me. Then came the chardonnay comment as she was trying to justify the cost to us,  then it came again and then again, the 15 minutes turned into 25. There are few times in your life when you can choose to be extremely rude and get away with it, most of the time you need alcohol. I could not bring myself to tell this woman to shut the f… up but I wanted to, so many times in that long 25 mins. She was only doing her job I guess, but no wonder they don’t actually let her sell the cars. If it had been someone else spruiking these wares maybe I would have spent the two and a half grand extra but I probably would have paid five grand to have her permanently locked in my new boot. But for some reason I said we would think about it as we scrambled out of the car yard to the safety of anywhere without After Sales Market Care Coffee Bringer I Wear Too Much Makeup, Am Annoying And Probably Made Up My Own Job Name Consultants.

I had to speak to her on the phone a couple of days later and kindly decline any kind of protection saying thank you a lot and trying not to be sarcastic. Hopefully our i30 arrives as promised but without any other kind of terrible human interaction. An actual sincere thank you to the local Hyundai dealer for this wonderful purchasing experience and let’s hope the car lives up to the hype, if not I guess I’ve got the cash to throw down quite a few cases of cheap chaaaaarrrdonay over the next few years.



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