Tuesday, December 12, 2006

The Mystifying Ways of the Auto Industry

I was never a big admirer of cars. Some people collect them, refurbish them, pimp them up, and dream about them. That's cool. Everybody's got their thing. I've always considered cars to be a machine that gets me from here to yon.

I'm not quite sure why I never took to cars. My dad loved and still loves cars. He can watch a throwback movie from the 50's and name the year, make, and model of cars that are in the background. It's quite an impressive talent actually! But for some reason I never caught on.

I think it's mostly because I'm jaded by the whole auto industry. Their ways of doing business just totally mystify me.

Here are some points to chew on about why the auto industry bugs me:
  • Dealers: Granted, some dealers have caught on of late, but how many times do you see a car dealer commercial where the rich, slickly dressed dealership owner is yelling at you about how cheap his cars are or how fast you have to act before this price break ends? It's totally tasteless and out of control! Since when do people want to be interrupted with this garbage? Sadly, it seems to work or else they wouldn't continue to do it. But not for me.
  • Dealers, Mechanics at the: It's a universal fact that the mechanics at the dealers charge you your firstborn baby to fix a rusted tailpipe. Independent mechanics aren't usually much better. I utterly respect mechanics' knowledge of fixing cars, but don't markup the cost of a part by 200%, and don't tell me I need something when I don't. Why would I want to come back to you if you're screwing me? On the bright side, the internet has made a dent in the price of parts. To wit, I just bought a new mirror at PartsTrain.com for a total of $43, and a guy at work popped it on for me at no charge. That's the way to do it.
  • Jobs: Used to be that jobs in the auto industry were good, honest work for hard working people. Obviously things change over time, but I can't quite get excited about buying a car when I hear that 10,000 jobs need to be cut here, or 30,000 there, etc. There's got to be a better way to go about this.
  • Marketing: Twenty years ago, environmentalists were called crazy for worrying about carbon dioxide emissions, fossil fuel shortages, and so forth. Now all of the sudden, all of these car dealers are "going green" and claiming to save the environment. Look, I'm all for hybrid cars. These should have been mainstreamed decades ago. But don't all of a sudden act like you're on my side, and also, don't tell me that "the environment thanks you", as Honda says. The environment thanks me when I walk to the store, or ride a bike to work (which, unfortunately, I am guilty of not doing enough of either). It doesn't "thank me" for continuing to pump out CO2, just in lesser amounts. Let's be real here.
  • Numbers: Can anybody tell me what all those numbers are all about at the end of a commercial, on a contract to buy a car, on a car rental contract, or in the owner's manual? Whatever happened to making things simple? Not in autoland. It's just one big numbermash!
Well that's a small taste of why I dislike the auto industry. Maybe by the time I'm ready to buy my next car in a few years, they'll have figured it all out. If not, maybe it's time for a Schwinn. Keep on truckin'!

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