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Marco and I have been talking about replacing his 2002 Mitsubishi Montero for a few months (years, really, but he kept saying, “I think I can make it one more year with this car”) and we finally did it!  We test-drove a Prius and looked at some Kias, and walked around Carmax, but we finally decided on the Mazda 3, for the gas mileage.  We looked up local Mazda dealerships, and decided on Mazda of Orange, since the taxes would be cheaper in the OC than in Riverside County.

We went for a test-drive, and told ourselves we weren’t going to buy yet (famous last words), and we drove my car there.  Well, he decided he liked the hatchback, and our 22-year-old son-of-the-manager salesman awkwardly suggested that we buy it.  Actually, he was great, and we spent the whole test-drive talking about cameras.  After Marco parked the car and we got out, he hastily pointed out all the features one would normally discuss while on the drive.

Anyway, Marco picked the black one, and we sat down to see what kind of deal we could make.  We decided to lease it.  They ran our credit, because Mazda requires a 700 FICO score for a lease.  We passed!  Who would have guessed??  Apparently we have good credit!

We put $1,000 down, and told them we would trade in the old Montero.  They accepted our trade, sight-unseen.  Now, anyone with internet access can look up that car on the Kelley Blue Book site and see that it’s worth about $1400.  Marco told them he wanted $2000.  I almost choked, and he shot me a warning look.  They asked us to put down $1500, and I balked.  They said, no, $1000 down would be fine, and they would give us $1,000 on the trade (they hoped we weren’t offended), even though we had not brought the car in.  We tried to contain our joy, because we both knew we were getting more on the trade than the old Mitsu was worth.

After all the paperwork was done, our payment was $395.  On a lease?!?!  I was screaming inside, but I remained calm, and tried to tell myself that we would make a chunk of that back on the 40 MPG we’d get, compared to the 20 MPG he got in the Montero.

When we got home that night, I happened to look at the clock at 11:11.  I made a quick wish that we would be able to make the payments without too much trouble.

The next day, I took the Montero to the dealership, and they informed me we needed to sign the contract again, because they had made a mistake.  I nervously walked in, thinking they were going to add to the payment amount.  The finance guy (an Indian guy who believes in karma…more on that later) said our payment would now be $290.  What?  Really?  He pulled the contract back before I could sign it, said he needed to see his manager, and left the room with both the old and new contracts in his hands.  He returned a few minutes later, mumbled something about computer codes and confusion and too many managers in one business, and put the new one back down on the desk.

As he smoothed it out for me to sign, he said he had never seen this before.  He said Marco and I must be good people, and karma has brought that back to us, because nobody gets a new contract with a lower payment.

So here are my tips!

1. Don’t bring your trade with you…just get them to offer an amount, sight-unseen.

2. Don’t agree to anything higher…they will come back down to your highest price.  We said ours was $350, even though it was really $400.

3. If you are a good person, good comes back to you.  And I really believe that!

Here’s Marco with his new car.  He’s trying to get used to being so low to the ground, but he loves the ease of it.

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