Archive for January, 2006

JoseMonkey Goes Hybrid

entry20060122-2 Over a year ago, back in December of 2004, I explained how I was considering buying the Toyota Highlander Hybrid.  Well, I finally went and did it yesterday.  So far, I’m very pleased with the car. 

I don’t really have a lot to say about the car itself that hasn’t been said elsewhere, but I wanted to relay a story about how I bought the car.

Here’s a secret: I’ve never had to haggle for a car before.  I’ve owned exactly two cars prior to this one.  The first was a 1989 VW Fox that my parents were nice enough to give me as a hand-me-down on my 17th birthday.  The second was another VW, a Passat this time, that I purchased through my father, who works for Audi.  Because of the nature of the employee-discounted sale, there wasn’t any negotiating to be done.  So, when it came time to buy this car, I found myself squarely in noob territory.

Having said that, I’m not a bad negotiator at all.  A former employer once sent me to a Karrass negotiating seminar where I learned some invaluable techniques and picked up a lot of pointers.  I’ve haggled for plenty of things since then — furniture, appliances, mortgage rates, etc. — but I’d never negotiated for a car.  Every good negotiator knows, buying a car is the Super Bowl of negotiating.

Anyway, I did some research to try to figure out what I needed to know going into the dealer.  I came across a wonderfully helpful site called, which was put together by a very friendly and knowledgeable guy named Jeff Ostroff.  Jeff’s advice was awesome, and I’d highly recommend that you check it out if you’re in the market for a car.

Armed with the info I needed, I headed to my local dealer, Sansone Auto Mall in Avenel, and began a pricing discussion.  When I made my offer, the sales manager immediately went into super-aggressive mode.  He told me that my offer was outrageous and that he’d lose money on the car if he sold it for that price.  Furthermore, they told me that I could go to “any dealer in the state,” and I’d never be able to buy the car for the price I was offering.  The manager then turned his back and walked away from me.  So, I walked.

The next day, I went to another Toyota dealer.  After some lengthy negotiations, I bought the car for a mere $200 more than my original offer. 

Later that day, a representative from the first dealer called me to talk to me about the offer I had made on the Highlander, not knowing I had already purchased the car elsewhere.  All of the sudden, they were willing to talk about the price and the person on the phone said she would “bring this to the manager’s attention.”  I couldn’t help but gloat.  I told her that her manager missed his chance to sell me a car.  However, I told her that she could “inform him that he was absolutely correct; I wasn’t able to buy that car for the price I offered.  I had to pay $200 more.” 

I then did a very silly victory dance.

The last thing I’d like to say is that I’d recommend buying a car from Frank Rodriguez at Toyotaland in Springfield, NJ.  He was very pleasant, as were the sales managers.  They weren’t pushovers, but they weren’t rude and aggressive, either.

Oh, BTW, if you’re interested in buying my 1999 VW Passat GLX, check it out on

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Nice Try, Circuit City

I’ve had a TiVo for a rather long time.  Ever since the Series 2 TiVos were released, I’ve toyed with the idea of getting another one.  However, I just couldn’t stomach the price of another unit plus subscription fees.

Then, about a month ago, I saw my chance.  As I browsed through my RSS feeds in Thunderbird, I saw that had an item about a Circuit City TiVo offer.  The unit was selling for $199, with a manufacturer’s rebate of $150.  Circuit City was also offering a $50 rebate.  To top it all off, DealCatcher pointed out that by using a certain coupon code, you could save 10% off any purchase.  In other words, I was going to come out $20 ahead if bought the TiVo. 

Needless to say, I bought it.  But all of this is simply background for the real story: Circuit City is ripping people off. 

I bought the TiVo on December 17th, which was the day listed the deal.  When I went to Circuit City’s site, their rebate form made it clear that I had to purchase that day to take advantage of the rebate.  See for yourself — here’s how the rebate looked on 12/17/05:  (Click to see full image.)

However, just recently, I received a notification saying that my rebate had been rejected as invalid.  The reason?  My purchase date wasn’t a valid date.  WTF?

When I called Circuit City’s rebate line to dispute this, they told me that “that rebate shows an end date of 12/16, not 12/17.”  Lo and behold, if you went to the rebate URL on that day, things looked different: (Click to see full image.)

(I know the images look slightly different — rest assured it’s simply because they were captured in different ways.  The first was created by printing to a file, the second by doing screen grabs.)

To make a long story short, I called bullshit on their scam and told them I had the original form.  They immediately agreed to process my rebate.  So, while I’m glad I didn’t get robbed, I’m guessing that many people did.  So Circuit City is officially on JoseMonkey’s shitlist.

BTW, Circuit City has now removed the rebate from their site completely.  Thankfully, Google’s cache still has the modified version

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