I’m in the last stage of dealing with the fender bender that totaled out my Lexus LS400. Yes, literally the fender, the headlight and one front wheel were damaged and the insurance company is calling it a total loss because of its age. Well, since they’re gonna give me a decent size check for it, I’m sending my beloved LS400 to the trash heap of some salvager who will part it out for thousands of dollars.
With the loss of that car, I had to start looking at my options. I haven’t really looked at buying a car since 2002 when I bought my first Lexus, the second one I bought from my law partner’s mother-in-law, so it’s a whole new world for me of car shopping. Much like how the dating world has radically changed with technology and gone mostly online, the car shopping experience has undergone a wholesale revision in what to expect.
I started out at Usedcars.com to pare down the choices and see what was available. My attitude towards cars is this, there are ‘daily drivers’ – they’re just transportation to get me to the store, the gym and the courthouse. I don’t marry my ego and my self-esteem with the cars I drive. In law school I had beaters that were ungodly eyesores, one didn’t even have a passenger seat! But they got me from Burbank to Rosemead to Inglewood reliably and they were paid for.
Then there are cars that one buys for show and/or personal enjoyment. My first boyfriend managed to buy back the 1965 Ford Mustang convertible he drove in high school and is rebuilding it with his father, down to the chassis. That’s a passion project and if I could buy back the 1964 ½ Ford Mustang that I had, I would move Heaven and earth to do so.
So looking at cars online, I had the opportunity to see what I would like. Of course at 54 (almost 55 – next month!) there was the cliché of getting a convertible sports car two seater. Which is exactly what I rented from Hertz on Santa Monica Blvd when I first had the accident. I must say that it’s definitely fun to have a convertible, and this Ford Mustang is a nice ride, but really if I was going to do it, I’d need the biggest engine they make because this rental lacks the oomph of a true Mustang. I realized pretty quickly though, that they’re more work than I want to deal with in a daily driver. I like being able to get in and out easily (did I mention I was 54?), dealing with the convertible top was mildly annoying and so I decided that the answer really is that I should just rent one for the weekend when I want to go topless.
Having looked around, I decided on the tried and true Lexus brand. The selection on the open market of used Lexus’ was more than enough for me to find one that I wanted. I stopped by a used-car lot and test drove a couple of different models just to make sure of what type of car I was getting. Did I want the IS the sporty entry level, or the higher end ES. I knew that I didn’t want to go full on LS again because it was more than I wanted to spend for a daily driver.
The salesman was excellent, friendly and super knowledgeable. I liked him and my experience with them was excellent.
And then I bought the exact car I wanted from Carvana.com.
Why, you may ask, if you liked the local dealer so much? Well it’s simple. I found the car online with every option I wanted, it had full 360 degree pictures showing me exactly what the car had and what condition it was in. The price was reasonable, and I was pre-qualified by them for financing in literally less than 5 minutes.
The thought of having to go sit with a dealer, and do that obnoxious, painful, insulting, infuriating dance of price negotiation, no matter how nice the salesperson is, was just not worth it to me. I deal with negotiations all day long with lawyers and crazy divorce clients and custody parent with unreal expectations. I did not want to waste 4-6 hours being played by the car guys in their quest to make a quota and upsell me into something that’s all profit and no benefit.
Did I pay more than I could have? Maybe. Was it worth it? Yes.
With Carvana I accepted my selection, and began the buying process clicking Yes and picking a delivery time. Then Carvana confirmed my information, asked me to upload pictures of my driver’s license and two pieces of mail that confirmed my home address. A phone call later to answer one question they had about my work and I was approved for a loan that was a full percentage point and a half lower than my credit union offered me.
On Sunday morning at 8 a.m. I received a couple of texts from Fernando that he was arriving with my car 30 minutes early. The fact that he was super handsome even with a mask on was just a bonus as he unloaded my 2016 Lexus. I did a walk around, showed him the insurance binder that allowed me to go for a test drive and 15 minutes I was back in my parking lot signing my name a few times for my seven day test drive. The car was exactly as shown on the website, and as I told Fernando, the only thing wrong with this entire experience was that the car’s clock was not set to Pacific time. Frankly, I think I can overlook that.
While I did not want to be in an accident, and I did not want to take on new debt in buying a car, the fact is I had to. So in the world of things that I have to do that I don’t like, buying a car from Carvana was the absolute standout awesome experience they say it will be, and I can unequivocally recommend them and this process.
This is the future of business – find the path of least resistance for your customers if you want to adapt to the new reality.
David Pisarra is a Los Angeles Divorce and Child Custody Lawyer specializing in Father’s and Men’s Rights with the Santa Monica firm of Pisarra & Grist. He welcomes your questions and comments. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 310/664-9969. You can follow him on Twitter @davidpisarra