The saga of Stasha, our broken down old lady of a Toyota Corolla, continues. She's been in the transmission shop since Monday, and I've been going back and forth with a mechanic named John and his faceless, nameless "general manager" about what it was going to take to get my baby back. I didn't like the estimate he came up with, because it was around the same amount as the car would be worth to sell, so I told him to put the transmission back together and I would tow it out. Well, good ole “Buy American” John started explaining how impossible that would be.
“I could put the parts in a box, but you won’t be able to pull the car. You’ll need to put it on a flatbed rig, and even boxing it up you’re looking at a charge of about one thousand….etc, etc.”
I called my friend who was an attorney in a previous incarnation in the hopes he might have dealt with something like this, and also to bring out the hard-ass New Yorker response in him, so that I could, subsequently bring it out in myself. In the end, he didn’t know much about the legality, but he did manage to get me good and fired up.
Which, in Dan terms, amounted to a carefully scripted bottom line. Because John had come back with a lower “wholesale” price, I smelled an opportunity to negotiate. “Here’s what it comes down to for me, John: I want you to rebuild my transmission, so that it is in the exact same condition it was when the car was brought to you. I don’t intend to pay for anything other than the labor, at the rate you’ve already quoted me. Or….”
(I paused for effect, and I could tell by his silence that he was right there with me, ready to bargain.)
“…. I could pay you $X to do the job, because that’s really all I can pay.”
“I’ll speak to the general manager – he’s right here but he’s on the phone. I’ll call you back.”
Long story short, John accepted the price, nearly half of his original quote. I’m proud of standing my ground, and the experience has been informative – I’ll need to learn more about the next car I buy.