Monday, May 07, 2007

My Car, My Hassles (Part 1)

As many of you know, I recently bought a car. I will now begin out outline exactly how big of a pain this process has become.

As with everything in my life, it turns out to be a long story, so I will have to tell the story over multiple posts. I will try to make each post as exciting as an episode of 24!

Here's the situation. I'm an Ontario resident, but I am from Nova Scotia. My family is from Nova Scotia. I got my driver's licence in Nova Scotia when I was 16, and have been on my parent's insurance, in Nova Scotia, since then. Then when I moved to Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, I had my licence changed to an Ontarian Licence. But I stayed on my parent's insurance policy.

For the last year my dad had lent me his Saturn(s) until I got on my feet and could get my own car. I went home at Easter time when dad told me two things which translated into "You need to get a car soon!" The first thing he told me was that our insurance company wanted to know when I was moving back to Nova Scotia. My licence number on my parent's insurance policy was an Ontario driver's licence number. So, my dad told them "Well, he recently got a job in Ottawa, so he won't be moving back to Nova Scotia in the foreseeable future." So they removed me from the policy, saying that they would give me a letter of experience if I needed one for the next year saying I have been insured.

So here I am, uninsured. Plus, Dad was going to come up to Ottawa, take back the car he had lent me to help my sister move home from North Bay for the summer. So I was going to lose my car soon. I needed to buy a car, and get insured.

The thing about buying a Saturn is that Saturn wants the process of buying a car to be as pain-free as possible. There is no haggling. You pay what the sticker says. Low pressure. I like that.

Of course, I did have a high pressure sale. Not so much from the Saturn people, but from circumstances.

Saturn was offering $0 down, 0% financing on their new cars. And, Saturn of Dartmouth was having some sales the week I was home. Now, the $0 down, 0% financing offer ended on Tuesday, April 11. I was coming back to Ottawa on the 12th. So by the time I could come back to Ottawa and look for other vehicles, the sale would be over. We found this out on Sunday, the 10th. Everything is closed on Sundays in Nova Scotia. That left me Monday and Tuesday to test-drive and make a decision.

On Monday I went around test driving different vehicles. Saturn made me a good offer on their car, with their sales, etc. I knew it would be a bit of a pain to transfer the car to Ontario, plus I wouldn't be able to drive it off the lot if I bought in Nova Scotia. For one thing it wouldn't be ready by time time I left, and another thing, I had no car insurance! But I was saving a ton of dough by buying it there and then.

I wondered if Saturn in Ottawa could match, or better, the offer made to me by Saturn of Dartmouth. If they could I would have bought over the phone. So I called Saturn in Ottawa and started to explain the deal I was getting from Saturn of Dartmouth. The salesman interrupted me and said "Tell you what. This sounds complicated, so here's my email address. Write me an email and I'll let you know either later today, or first thing tomorrow (Tuesday) morning."

I wrote up the email and sent it off to him. I didn't hear back that day. The next morning I didn't get a reply. But I did have to go to my parent's insurance broker to deal with insurance issues and request a letter of experience. When I got home early that afternoon, the email still hadn't arrived. So I called Saturn in Ottawa back and got the guy I talked to the day before. He was having email troubles. He had sent me a reply, but I never got it. So he asked me to send mine again and he'd reply right away again. Unfortunately, he wasn't free to talk at that moment because he was in a meeting that would last until 4:00pm (5:00pm Nova Scotian time.) So I waited until 5:30 and still hadn't received a reply. So I called back. At 5:30, I had two and a half hours before Saturn of Dartmouth closed and the sweet deal was over. The man I had dealt with had left for the day. So I talked to the next available salesman. I requested an answer right away because I didn't have time for email hassles.

I explained the situation to him, and unfortunately Saturn in Ottawa couldn't match the sales. I was going to save lots of money by buying in Nova Scotia. Then, in three weeks when dad was going to fly to Ontario, instead he would drive my car and we would do a car swap. He would give me my car, and I would return his car to him.

I asked Saturn of Dartmouth about registration and tax issues. Saturn of Dartmouth didn't know for sure, but said when I registered the car in Ontario the Ministry of Transportation of Ontario would probably be able to recover the RST directly from the Nova Scotian government.

So I decided to buy the car in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia. I got a blue 2007 Saturn Ion 2 midlevel. I bought the car at about 7:00-7:30 on the Tuesday night. Another 30 - 60 minutes, and the deal would have been over. While I wasn't able to drive the car off the lot, I did drive it around the lot. The next morning I got on a plane , flew back to Ottawa, and let the hassles begin, which I will get to next week.

Find out what happens in next week's exciting episode of "My Car, My Hassles". Same car day, same car blog.