When Your Car Is Totaled and You Have To Replace It, Beware of “Apple Pie” Marketing Along the Way

It has been just a bit over a month that I got involved in what most would have seen as a “fender-bender” (details in previous post); nevertheless, my car was totaled.  Luckily, no one was hurt, nor was I the driver who caused the accident, but unluckily, my car got the worst end of the deal.  I’ve been driving since I was about 13 years old, and I’d never before been in an accident in which my car had to be towed, not to mention having one totaled by the insurance company.

I really liked my old car, a 2007 Mazda 3 GT hatchback, and was heart-sick when I went to talk with the insurance adjustor at the collison repair shop.  I really didn’t recognize it, with the front half sitting all bare to the engine after having the hood, fenders, grill, front bumper, and lights all peeled off so that the internal damage could be determined.

Now that I’m driving a new car that I also really like, it’s easier to look at the entire episode as a learning experience, some of which might be valuable to others.  Above all else, whether it’s the rental car agency, the insurance company, or the car dealership, it’s all about marketing:  everyone has a “Would you like an apple pie with that?” line, and some try to sneakily add the “apple pie” without politely asking “would you”.

Here are a few things I found out, some of them pure aggravation, some not so bad:

The Tow Truck

  • The driver will probably want to tow your car to a lot at a repair shop that he has some financial connection with, not the one that you and your insurance company have agreed upon
  • In Houston, the tow truck driver will give you a ride home, free of charge (probably the insurance company picks up that tab)

The Car Rental Company

  • Beware that car rental companies have both calendar day rates and 24-hour day rates.  You will pay for an extra day on the calendar day rate, even if you return the car earlier in the day than when you picked it up.  See here for more details.

The New Car Dealership Finance Officer

  • This person will try to force you to finance through them even if you come with your financing already lined up.  They will also push you to add extras, like window-tinting and longer warrantees, in order to jack up the selling price.  (In my case, dealing with the car salesman and the finance officer was like dealing with good cop, bad cop.)

The Insurance Company

  • You don’t have to take what the insurance adjustor first offers you for your car when it is totaled.  You can negotiate.  Look what comparable cars are selling for locally at places like Carmax.  Check sites like Bluebook and Edmunds.  Also keep the window sticker from your car when you buy it in your records.  It can help show all the extras that came on your car.
  • When you’re changing your insurance to your new car, beware of the insurance representative adding items on to your policy, even when you tell them you want the same coverage as you had on your previous car.  Mine had a slick way of not asking me if I wanted these items, but announcing it as if it were a matter of fact.  (Everyone these days, it seems, from the credit union to the dealer to the insurance company wants you to add more coverage of the car’s engine.)

The problem with all this pushy marketing is that they do it right when a person is the most vulnerable–immediately after an accident–or when you’re getting your new car–and bring down what what should be an exciting day.  However, if you just anticipate that most everyone in the entire process is probably going to try to get more money out of you, you can be ready for it and not get sucked in.

I’m not mentioning the specific names of any businesses that I dealt with, because aside from these, what I call aggravations, in all other respects through this bit of a rough patch in the road (trite expression, but we are talking about cars here), I was treated pretty well.

 

Advertisements

One Response

  1. I was surprised when I read what happened to you.
    I’m sorry about it, but it was good that you didn’t get hurt.
    Is your neck OK, too? Please take care of your body even if it has taken time after the accident.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: