My Car Buying Experience in UK

22 Sep

Today I had a customer who booked Anjung Nuri for his wedding. We haggled over the price for a while before closing a deal which we were both happy with. At the end of it, I couldn’t help but chuckled because I started recalling my own experience being at the other end of the table. Erica has been calling me a cinapek lately, especially when I started haggling in car workshop, night market, souvenir stalls etc. The thing is, she begged me to bargain on her behalf and then started calling me “silai” (housewife who loves to haggle) after she got a good price.

I went through one of my most tiring haggling experiences when I was buying a car in UK, the first car I owned in my life. You usually see people going to work in underground train and probably think I was living in luxury with a car in UK. Well, you are absolutely wrong. I was working in Southampton where car is a necessity. Being a cheapskate, I did try the public transport at first but then decided to get a car before I got into depression. I used to get stranded in the middle of nowhere covered in snow.

I visited the Toyota show room at least five times before buying this little sexy bitch in red.


Why five times? It just happened. Not that I planned beforehand that I must go at least five times because it does sound stupid. I roughly remember it went like this.

First Time

I went to Toyota show room and I was served by a very friendly salesman, I call him D. Guess what, we spent the first half an hour talking about his family, his job, his weekend, the weather, my job, my weekend…bla bla bla. To be frank, I was not interested to know about his weekend at all. About the weather, hmm we live in the same place with the same weather, so what’s so special about his weather that I didn’t know? These are the usual topics for a small talk in UK by the way, and I got used to it along the way.

At the end, I just grabbed all the brochures, check out some models and left. If you know cinapek well, they won’t buy anything from you before checking out your other competitors.

So I went to Volkswagen and Ford and did the same thing. Over that same weekend, I had talked about my job, family, weekend and the weather three times. Sometimes I just faked a few things to make my weekend sounds more interesting. I reckoned they would rip me off thinking that I was a nerd if I told them I just watched TV at home over weekend.

Second Time

I went for a test drive in a Toyota Auris. Same thing happened, I left for a Volkswagen Polo and Ford KA. By this time, I knew what to look for and what sort of questions to ask in order to get the best bargain.

Another thing about cinapek is, they will ask a lot of questions, test all your products, compare everything with your competitor and then tell you they will come back again.

Third Time

D introduced to me a Toyota Yaris Diesel and gave me a rather lengthy sales pitch. Just when I was about to say yes, I realised there was a cheaper version that runs on petrol. After lots of questions, I gave him another cinapek‘s favourite phrase – “Let me go home and think about it”.

Fourth Time

“Hey Mr.Chew, it’s you again, good to see you!” D greeted me. I was pretty sure he was cursing me in his heart at that time, haha!

For the small talk, I realised I already talked about my last weekend with him, so I talked about my plan for the next weekend which was all made up.

I then started haggling, “Hey D, I don’t think I’m gonna take the diesel version for a few reasons:

1. The diesel engine is £3k more expensive than the petrol version.

2. The diesel engine saves me £0.05 for every mile driven over the next two years. I plan to go back to London after two years and I don’t need a car there.

3. My company will reimburse me £0.40 per mile driven and expect to drive 20,000 miles over the next two years.

4. Therefore, my total savings from a diesel car is only £1k. I’ll buy it at £7k (List price = £10k).”

“Wow, I’ve never heard that before. You have a very scientific approach of buying car indeed,” D said. Ah, I got the sarcasm.

In the end, there was no deal because the reduction I asked for was simply not possible.

Fifth Time

After talking to a few dealers of other brands and my fellow colleagues who drove different brands, I realised Toyota still offered the best quality. I went back to the same show room and found the cheapest Toyota Yaris (Petrol Engine, Second Hand, List Price =£7k).

“This car looks pretty good but it’s used car and I saw the engine is quite dirty and it looks a bit wobbly. The best I can do is £5k.” I said to D. Honestly, I didn’t know what I was talking about. The engine was just a bit dusty and I just said wobbly for the sake of getting bargain.

We went back and forth haggling for quite long before he proposed to meet me in the middle at £6k.

I just said, “let’s go for £5,800 because the number “8” represents fortune for the Chinese and it will bring good luck to me.” At that moment, I realised my mouth was responding quicker than my mind. He burst out laughing because he had never heard of that before. We finally sealed the deal at £6k as I really need a car and that’s the best I could get. Seriously, I didn’t fucking care about number “8”. In fact, a “5” combined with a “8” represents “No Fortune” in Chinese.

Here came my last attempt to squeeze something out of it while we were shaking hands. “Thanks D. By the way, you guys are gonna give me a Sat Nav for free right? Nowadays most cars come with one,” I said.

“haha, that thing only costs £50. I don’t mind giving you one if we have it here but we don’t,” replied D.



Looking back, I realised I’ve gone through so much hassle buying that little car. Erica always say that I have very thick skin because I’m not ashamed to ask for bargain and squeeze whatever I can from it. I think that’s true and I’m not ashamed to admit that, haha!



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Posted by on September 22, 2014 in Uncategorized


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