Joining the Charlie's Honda Family

Yes, we joined the Charlie's Honda family and are now the proud owners of a Honda Ridgeline Sport edition. However, let's back up and talk about how that happened.

Earlier I talked about the reasons for needing a new truck and how I narrowed down my choices to the Honda Ridgeline Sport - you can read about it here.

Now I get to write about the actual purchase experience. This is usually the part of buying a new vehicle that I hate the worst - going to the dealership and figuring out if it is actually the vehicle that I want or need, plus once you decide if you are going to buy, there is the negotiation of the price you pay stage, which to be honest usually sucks.

In other words, I was very jaded and rather defensive going in, when it came to dealing with automotive dealerships. I know they need to make a profit, but sometimes it is more the attitudes they give off while making their profit that bothers me.

To be honest, we were not expecting to come home with a vehicle that day, it was President's Day and the banks were closed. It was more to give Mary more information on the Ridgeline and how it compared to other vehicles. We were in for a surprise.

We had an appointment for 1:00 PM at Charlie's Honda in Augusta and we drove up and there was a black Honda Ridgeline Sport sitting in a parking space running (I told Mary, that would be the vehicle we would be test driving and it was). We went in and Pierre the sales manager, who I had talked with on Saturday, asked if we minded having a new sales associate work with us to give her some experience. We said sure and he went and got Desiree to introduce us.

After that, we went for a test drive in the black Ridgeline that had been warming up outside. It did everything that we wanted. We talked about things for a minute and after the test drive we decided to see what kind of deal we could get and sat down for the next phase.

Desiree filled out the initial paperwork and then took it over to Pierre who is the Sales Manager. When he came back, we made a little bit of small talk before getting into the negotiations (a negotiating tactic itself) for a bit and I mentioned that I had been thinking about things and realized that Pierre was the salesman that originally sold me the Ranger when I bought it from the Ford dealership back in 2013 and Pierre said that he thought I looked familiar. We both laughed and said what a small world it was.

Then came the time negotiating the price and how much for the trade-in, yes the Ranger was going away.  Thankfully, Pierre didn't play the games that I have experienced in the past at other dealerships. We sat down, talked things out, discussed what both sides could and couldn't do.

The negotiations were short, rather painful to the wallet, but not as bad as we had feared and in the end, we were very happy with the final deal that we ended up at. I cannot believe that I just said that, we were very happy with the final deal!!!

Then we chose the few accessories that we wanted to be added on to the final cost and waited for processing.

In about 10 minutes we had the results of our loan application and then had to wait a few minutes to do the paperwork. Once we got into the loan processor, it was someone that Mary knew professionally from where she worked before she retired. They caught up a bit about the people they both knew and the paperwork part of the experience was quick and easy.

The Honda Ridgeline was our's and the bank.

We just had to bring in the down payment, the Ranger's spare key and title the next morning, but we were taking the Ridgeline home that day.

Small Things Make a Difference

It is often the small things that make the buying experience a positive one and Charlie's Honda did the little things that did make the buying experience there a positive one:

  • We made an appointment and when we arrived it was kept. There was no waiting around for a salesperson to finally get around to help us.
  • Pierre is the sales manager and has to supervise quite a few salespeople on a busy day (President's Day), so I understood the rationale for having a sales associate do the test-drive, paperwork, but he gave us the courtesy of asking first, instead of telling us Desiree was going to help us. There is a huge difference.
  • The model vehicle that I requested to see was the one that was there warming up. There was no bait and switch to a higher-priced vehicle and them saying that the lower-priced model was gone.
  • Pierre personally took care of the negotiation and was cognizant of our wants, needs and yes, limits on what we were willing to do financially. He did it with humor, patience, and respect, which was the way that we wanted to be treated during a stressful time - buying an expensive vehicle is stressful and a long-term commitment.
  • The loan process was quick and efficient and it was nice for Mary to talk with someone that she had a professional acquaintance with before she retired, which did help us relax that much more.
  • After we finished doing the paperwork, Desiree offered to help clean out the Ranger, we declined. That really wasn't part of her responsibilities. We really had not been expecting to go through with the deal that day, so I hadn't done anything to clean out the Ranger and all my crap was in it. I did ask for two big garbage bags and got them pretty much full.
  • The Ridgeline was washed, cleaned out, the all-weather mats put in and it was filled with gas. Those things have not always been my experience when I have bought a new vehicle from a dealership.
  • A small but really nice thing was that my old license plates were put on under the temporary paper plates. Usually, they are thrown under the seat and you have to deal with putting them on later. A minor thing, but a touch that I appreciated, especially in winter.
  • Before we left, Desiree offered to go over setting up the electronics. I thought I could handle it, but we took her up on it just in case I ran into any problems. I think I may have surprised her a bit, by just doing things myself while she was sitting there. Her comment was, "you really are tech-savvy aren't you". I chuckled and thought to myself, not all old people are helpless when it comes to technology.

I did have to laugh though after I got through setting up the electronics, Desiree couldn't get out of the back seat. She had forgotten again about the child safety locks still being engaged. It was good that she was able to laugh at herself, we joked around for a few seconds and then we let her out. Yes, we disengaged the child safety locks on both rear doors while we were chuckling.

The reality is that

Actually, that was probably the best car buying experience I have ever had.

The sales staff (Pierre and Desiree) were friendly, knowledgeable, and didn't act like they were doing us a favor by selling us their vehicle. They were respectful of our wants/needs and didn't try for the hard sell, which probably would have resulted in us walking away.

They showed the vehicle, explained the options, negotiated the price by going for a win-win approach, versus the old I win, you got screwed feeling that so many dealerships leave you feeling after buying a vehicle from them.

Well here is to our new truck and hopefully, we get as many years out of it as we did out of the old Ranger. It has been a long time since I drove off the lot with under 20 miles on the odometer of a vehicle.

I tip my new hat to Pierre and Desiree at Charlie's Honda for superior customer experience in purchasing a new vehicle from them.

Now to see what joining Charlie's Honda family means. If my first impressions are anything to go by, it should be a great experience.