I like to wear T-shirts that have a message on them. Quite often, the message is about me being a writer, such as one that says, “Pay No Attention To My Browsing History, I’m A Writer, Not A Serial Killer.” You would be surprised how many times this leads to a conversation with a perfect stranger who ends up becoming a fan of my books. Other shirts poke fun at myself, such as my latest one that says, “I’m At The Age Where My Mind Says I Can Still Do That, Then My Body Giggles And Says Try It And Die Fat Boy!” That one gets some comments, too.
But of all my shirts, this is the one that gets noticed most of all. I guess because we all know somebody like that, don’t we? Or more than one somebody?
I am reminded of this shirt today because of a couple of email exchanges I’ve been having with blog readers. One actually started almost two years ago when a very nice young man contacted me to say that he was contemplating buying a 1979 Toyota Chinook camper and asking for my opinion about it. For those of you who are not familiar with the Chinook, they resembled a small Class C motorhome build on a Toyota pickup frame and cab. They were fairly popular back in the day, but that day was a long time ago.
When the young man first contacted me about the Toyota, he said it had been sitting unused for several years (which is never good thing for any kind of vehicle) and that all four tires were flat, but he felt it was a steal at $1,500. I told him then that I was sure he was getting in over his head, but he was convinced that it was a bargain and he bought it.
Since then he has sent me updates as he has poured a ton of money into the rig, going through the engine and transmission, replacing the tires and shock absorbers, and getting all of the RV systems modernized and working. He also had an expensive custom paint job put on it, and a lot of other artistic features that look nice but are not practical at all. In the process, he told me that he was having so much fun that he might buy several more of these “collectible” RVs and restore and sell them. My reply was that I didn’t feel the Toyota Chinook was really collectible, and that even if it was, a collector wants something all original, not updated and customized.
I got an email from this gentleman the other day, who is very depressed and disillusioned because even though he has over $24,000 in the restoration, not counting the original price of the vehicle or his uncountable hours of labor, nobody was interested when he offered it for sale for $45,000. Nor were they interested when he dropped the price to $40K and then $35K, nor now that he has lowered it once again, to $30,000. His hopes of being the Custom Chinook King of America have been dashed.
I used to see this all the time when I was into classic cars. Somebody would have a Ford Falcon or a Chevy Vega, or whatever car they loved for whatever reason, and they would spend a small fortune getting it fully restored, only to find that they still had a Ford Falcon or a Chevy Vega, not a Mustang or a Camaro or Corvette. What’s that they say about putting lipstick on a pig?
The other person who didn’t listen to advice after asking for it was somebody who found a Class A motorhome online and wanted to know what I thought of the brand and model. While it was a decent enough rig, red flags went off for me when he said that the dealer selling it would not quote a price until he actually came to the lot, which is over 800 miles away, to look at the RV. Anybody who will not quote a price up front almost certainly is up to no good.
Regardless, the man and his wife went and looked at the rig, and he then contacted me saying he felt something was fishy. He said their credit rating is over 730, but the dealer told them there was no way to get financed except with his “special financing.” He also said that the price had gone up twice from the moment they walked into the rig until they sat down to do the paperwork. The salesman could not give him any explanation as to why it had changed. Then, the dealer told the buyer that he would also have to spend an additional $2,500 for an extended warranty, because the lender they would be financing through required it.
I told him to walk away then, but he said he and his wife really love the coach. So I told him to get his own financing through his credit union, and he said when he brought that up the dealer said that it had to be financed through his channels or else he would have to raise the price another $2,000. Again I told him to walk away, and he replied that they had just given the dealer a $1,000 check as earnest money to hold the rig. I told him to stop payment on the check, but he said the bank would charge him $25 for that.
Yesterday I got an email from him saying that the details of the sale had changed once again, which would cost them even more money, and that they were done. However, they aren’t done, because in the meantime the dealer cashed the check and told them their deposit is nonrefundable. He wanted to know what he should do next. Maybe call an attorney?
Hello? Are you listening at all? You could have avoided all of this by simply not going such a long distance to look at an RV that you had no idea how much was going to cost. Or by walking away when they started raising the price over the original quoted price you were given when you got there. Or when they started playing games about financing and extended warranties. I don’t know what you should do next and I don’t know what kind of attorney you are going to find, but I can guarantee you he’s going to charge a lot more than the $25 that stopping payment on your check would have cost you.
Why do I even try?
Today is your last chance to enter our Free Drawing for an audiobook of my friend Ben Rehder’s Gone The Next, the first book in Ben’s excellent Roy Ballard mystery series. Ben is one of my favorite authors, and if you have not read any of his books, you don’t know what you are missing. To enter, click on this Free Drawing link or the tab at the top of this page and enter your name (first and last) in the comments section at the bottom of that page (not this one). Only one entry per person per drawing please, and you must enter with your real name. To prevent spam or multiple entries, the names of cartoon or movie characters are not allowed. The winner will be drawn this evening.
Thought For The Day – Refried beans and onions give you tear gas.