Me and Mrs P aren’t really equiped for life in foreign climes. It isn’t the heat or the language barrier that’s the problem (or even what happens if you get sick in the sun, according to Trevor McDo-nut) it’s just that we’re not very good at haggling like you’re supposed to do in those Latin places.
Take yesterday. We went to the local Ford dealer to see about a new car for me. It was quite relaxed, no pouncing hard-sell salesmen, in fact we’d wandered round for ages looking at the different models and then had to seek out someone to do the maths. We’d taken the test drive before settling down and working out that I could do the change and save 20% on our monthly payments, so we said yes after a few moments thought.
The thing is, I’m downsizing in the vehicular department. With Miss P at uni and as I seldom run Master P about, most of my time in the car is spent on my own, so a smaller car seemed a better idea and I opted for a Fiesta Zetec S, as above.
But we should have walked away, not saying yes like we did. These guys are desperate to sell cars in January and we should have said that we’d think about it and waited for the call with a better deal, but we didn’t. It just never entered our psyche where a deal is a deal.
So there we were, deal closed when we went into what passes for haggling in the Parrot household. The salesman (real name Kurt Swindells, I kid you not, but a good bloke nonetheless) did his next bit of patter: did we want the paintwork and upholstery protection? Usually £299, on offer for just £99.
Mrs P stepped in with her sweetest smile and hinted that maybe, just maybe, he could throw that in, us being good customers and all. He thought a while and then he said he’d throw in some car mats instead. I’m just an onlooker at this stage as Mrs P is quietly persistent on the protection.
In the end he admits defeat and says yes in place of the mats. “And the mats,” said Mrs P and the need for a January sale kicked in, so mats and protection kit, total value £316.99 and we walk away happily haggled. Sad, isn’t it, but 31,698 pence more than I would have managed.
The worst thing is, it’s like regression therapy. The first “new” car I ever drove (I didn’t own it) was a Fieasta Sport which preceded the XR2 and which got me in terrible trouble in its own way. Before you know it, I’ll be wearing a baseball cap back-to-front and driving at night with just my foglights to light the way.