The Used Car Salesman

Really? A used car salesman?!?

Really.

We found ourselves in need of a new (to us) vehicle. Looking at all the dealerships in the area and outside, it looked like everything was hype and all they wanted was to “sell you”, and I HATE being “sold”.

Maybe you do too.

I watched all the TV commercials from “Mr HUGE-a” to the “Nine – ninetynine” girl and everybody in between. I visited a local dealership suggesting I was in the market, and was bombarded by emails, phone calls and texts until I had to tell them to cease and desist.

It made me absolutely hate the idea of looking for a used car. And forget CraigsList or eBay, you can never be sure what hidden gremlins hide within each of the offerings.

And then I saw something different. A dealership advertising used cars at a WEEKLY price. Warning bells went up immediately. I had heard of some dealers in Florida who require you to come in and pay weekly at exorbitant interest rates – and if you were late, they would repossess the car or send “Carmine” to visit you. (insert the Godfather theme here…)

But on further inspection of the web site, billywhittakercars.com, it said that the weekly figures were for budgeting, and the car loans that they brokered were absolutely normal. And, they had exactly what we wanted in stock.

This is where AC Bowman at Billy Whittaker Cars set himself, and the dealership apart from every other place we had visited. He gave us an education in today’s credit system, and showed us how everything we had been taught growing up had changed.

It used to be that the best way to have great credit was to be out of debt. Today, if you don’t owe anything or have been debt free for the last 3 years, the credit bureaus consider you a “ghost”, and you have NO credit score. Not a bad score, NO score, hence, you can’t get financing. Living your life today on a “cash only” basis seems, counter-intuitively, to hurt instead of help.

Personally, I think it’s a conspiracy to part you from your well-earned money, but I’ll save that for another time.

The young man who joined us for the trip to the dealer was in exactly that position, owing nothing, and having no score.

AC’s advice was for him to open an account at a credit union, and get a secured VISA card. This is different than a debit card in that the credit bureaus are aware of the account, where they are not aware of debit cards. In the credit union’s eyes, a debit card is plastic cash, not credit.

The conversation continued for the better part of an hour, and we learned more about the credit system and how to set your credit rating on a solid footing than we’d ever known before.

Yes, we purchased our new (used) GMC Canyon from him, and its being personally delivered to our home today, all the way from Central Square.

Was it worth the hour and a half drive there to get the truck? I think so. We were treated like family friends – not sales targets from the beginning. A nice touch was when the dealership owner Billy Whittaker stepped in to meet us and thank us – and not a brusque “Thanks and gone”, but a relaxed conversation, including how he started with three cars and a barn… He’s real people, and worth knowing.

No, I didn’t intend this to be an advertisement, but when I find something – whether a place, a wine, a restaurant or in this case a car dealership that is in some way extraordinary, I want y’all to know.

And though it’s not local, it is definitely within reach.

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