When most people want your opinion on a car purchase, they don't actually want your true thoughts. They just want to be validated, because they want to believe they didn't just throw money away. Over the years I've been pretty good at this, but sometimes you can't hide it. This is how not to react.
Like many of you I get into random car conversations with folks I don't really know. Cars make for nice small talk. However, this small talk can easily turn into a defensive and awkward conversation. Now when someone is about to make a purchase but hasn't pulled the trigger yet, and wants my two-cents, I'll tell them what I really think as diplomatically as I can. However, if someone already made a purchase, I try to keep it positive even if I believe that it wasn't the wisest choice. Because there really is no point in putting a downer on their happiness. But this time I didn't hold back...and I kind of regret it.
Here is what started as an easy conversation about cars, but ended badly. (Keep in mind that this person has no idea that I am a car buying consultant nor does he know I work for Jalopnik. We were just two dudes talking about cars.)
Him- "So what do you think about the new Lexus coupe?"
Me- "The RC or the RC-F?"
Him- "The RC-F...the fast one?"
Me- "It's different...it looks cool, I guess."
Him- "I just bought one...well I just put a deposit on one at a dealer."
Me- "Oh cool..that should be a fun car."
Him "Yeah...I had to pay $10,000 over sticker too."
Me - "Oh." (Now my mouth says "Oh," but my face says WTF? He sees my face and instantly changes his body language.)
Him- "What? They are rare cars...limited production. They are going to be collectible. You don't think that was a good buy?"
Me - "Uh..."
Him - "What's wrong with buying a RC-F?"
Me - "There is nothing wrong with buying an RC-F, if that is the car you want. It's the ten grand over sticker that I find a little problematic."
Him (very defensive) - "Why is that?"
Me - "Because I'm pretty certain there are a few BMW dealers in NJ that would have sold you an M4 under MSRP. Now we can disagree about which car is better, but I have a hard time believing that the RC-F is worth a $10,000 premium over the M4."
Him - "Well it is worth it" (dude exits conversation in a huff)
So now I feel kind of bad, because when this guy woke up he was proud of his RC-F purchase even if he did drop $10,000 more than necessary. Now I get the feeling that he is going to second guess his purchase. Maybe he will get his deposit back and buy something else. Maybe he will go through with it, but not enjoy the car as much.
Maybe I'm way over analyzing this whole thing...but the next time someone tells you they bought a car, even if it was the most boneheaded purchase imaginable, just say, "Good for you." And move on.
If you have a question, a tip, or something you would like to to share about car-buying, drop me a line at AutomatchConsulting@gmail.com and be sure to include your Kinja handle.