My wife needs a new car.  She is not like me, she doesn't want a new car every 2-3 years, she doesn't enjoy driving like I do, a car to her is an appliance.  It serves one distinct purpose, to get her from point A to point B.  She does not venture off the beaten path, she does not get excited by back country roads that challenge a great car, truth be told, in most cases she really doesn't even care what the car looks like.  As long as it starts and can get her from where she is, to where she wants to go, she is fine.


But, her car, a 2010 Mazda 3, is dying.  It has a lot of mileage on it, the paint has faded from the sun, the interior is decent, but shows signs of wear.  Perhaps the most alarming feature however, is, given the pandemic and her no longer driving to work everyday, the car will die in the driveway, needed to be jumped started to bring it back to life.  

There is a parasitic battery drain that we have not been able to isolate.  Several mechanics we know and trust suggest that rodents most likely have made their way into the car, looking for warmth, and in the process chewed through wires possibly causing a short which in turn creates the drain.


Alternatively, under recall, Mazda replaced the entire dashboard several years ago, and although my wife does not want to admit it, the car never was 100% after that repair.  Granted, the new dashboard looks great, but intermittent "gremlins" showed up that have never been resolved, and I believe that is the source of the drain on the battery.


Either way, it really doesn't matter, she has reached the threshold that has her wanting a new car.  Which is fine by me, since she got her car in 2010, I have had 6 cars, 5 of which I bought new.


Now, before you point out the obvious, that NOW is not the time to be shopping, be aware that we know that also, but it doesn't hurt to look.  Her list of 'wants' is short, she wants an SUV, she wants heated and cooled seats, and she doesn't want a HUGE SUV.


The rest she has left up to me.  

So I put together a list of possible candidates:

1. Lexus NX

2. BMW X3

3. Mercedes GLC

4. Toyota Highlander (the biggest on the list)

5. Kia Sorrento (also on the larger side)


Having compiled a list, we started looking, and yesterday found us at Toyota looking at a fully loaded Highlander.  It had heated and cooled seats, and it had a 3rd row, which we do not need, but she thinks we might at some point, so she was interested.  She even drove the Highlander, which is rare, since she never drove the last car she bought.


Once she decided she could see herself driving the Toyota, she asked the obvious, how much.  The sticker price was $51k, and the sales guy proudly declared an additional $6k markup over sticker. 


To which I simply replied, looks like we need to buy the Lexus.

[as a sidebar here, yes, the NX is smaller than the Highlander, but price is similar]


We had looked at Lexus and BMW earlier in the week, and although a car would have to be ordered meaning a 4-6 wait, both BMW and Lexus told us that they had no additional mark-up over sticker price.


I get it, supply is low, and capitalism is alive and well.

The problem I have is simply this, with a $6k markup on a $51k car, that puts it into a completely different class of car and pricing, and with an MSRP of around $48K, the '22 Lexus NX is suddenly "cheap" compared to the Toyota.


All of this begs a very simple question, is dealer greed driving customers to higher end (perceived of otherwise) brands that are not marking up?  

Our Lexus dealer told us that Lexus Corporate frowns on dealer mark-ups, and while I am sure it occurs, kudos's to Lexus of Cool Springs in Brentwood TN for honoring that.  The sales guy there, Terry Milam, has been an honest, straight up guy, and should be commended for doing the right thing, even though a lot more money could be made.  

The same can be extended to John Bergeron of BMW of Nashville.  If you don't mind waiting, you can get a new BMW and not feel like surgery is needed for the probing you experienced at the hands of greed.


Toyota of Murfreesboro, not so much.  For our salesperson Omar, not a single question was asked in terms of qualifying us as a customer, much less a repeat customer.  Nope, greed took the place of customer service, and yes, for a season profits will run high, but car sales just like everything else is cyclical, I suspect greed will come back to haunt those who participate.


So what is the answer?  The short one is easy, don't buy a car right now.  But for those who do need a car, rest assured, there are some honest people still out there, and they along with the dealers they work at deserve to at least garner your attention, and perhaps your business. 


As for my wife, odds are we will order the Lexus this week.  Show knows, perhaps it will show up in time for Christmas, so that we can put one of those big red bows on it, like the Lexus commercials always show, and she, just like the actors in those commercials, can have a "December to Remember".

Greed, Thy Name is Mark-ups

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