The Wonderful World of Used-Car Buying in Slovakia
I have had the experience of purchasing a new vehicle in Slovakia with excellent treatment from the salon staff and owner. However, when I sold the car over a year ago and decided to reduce the monthly budget and use public transportation, found out that it had been a very horrible choice. So now, one year later, money in the bank and looking for now a larger used vehicle to transport the family across Slovakia and Europe in, has proven to be much harder than my last purchase.
First off, we use every means possible to research all the vehicle available, or so we thought. As we search online from website to website we keep getting directed to another site for more details of the vehicle. One salon popping up more often than any other, AAA Auto. As we search for the vehicle with the specification we desire we come to AAA Auto over and over. It seems they have what we want and the prices seemed to be right where we expected to be. So we book a test drive online and within 3 minutes receive a call from the “Manager” of AAA Auto to confirm our request. The “Manager” explains to us that unfortunately the website is not updated frequently enough and the vehicle we desired to view and test-drive, was not in Bratislava, but in Banska Bystrica and if we wished to see it in Blava we would have to put a 100EURO deposit down in cash for them to deliver it. Well, as there were many other options on the website for similar vehicles we decided to book another vehicle instead and see if this vehicle in BB would be an alternative choice. We had our appointment set to see four vehicles on Saturday afternoon with the hope of favoring at least one.
We arrived to AAA Auto a little before the scheduled appointment and walked the lot to see what may have arrived and possibly not on the website. Well, walking around the lot took but 5 minutes and we noticed that the selection was not the selection boasted by the website and in fact, we didn’t see any of the twelve or so vehicles we would consider that were listed on the website. Confused by the immediate selection, I proceeded into the Showroom to the reception desk. I was told by my wife I only needed to inform them I was present with my last name and phone number as reference. Well, no one was sitting at the reception desk, so we waited for someone to show up. After about 5 or so minutes a gentleman came to the desk to check something on the computer and I announced my appointment. He gave a grim look and took my information. Clearly it was a task he did not want to perform, nor was he very quick to adjust to my Slovak pronunciations. My colleague that joined me quickly picked up on the salesman’s confused look and repeated in native Slovak, with not much change in facial response. After what seemed to be a few minutes he finally pulled up my information and looked at us to say that the vehicle we booked for a test drive was not here, but in Banska Bystrica. This was information we already knew and this is why we booked a few other cars to view. So we asked him about the other vehicles we saw on their website. He stated to us that there was no other bookings and the vehicles we wished to see were not here as well, or had been sold recently. A bit confused, as we were assured earlier that morning that the vehicles were on the lot by the “Manager”, we asked what vehicles were available with our specifications? He told us he would check the database for vehicles and came up with a few vehicles, however, none that were even close to what we were interested in and none within Bratislava. We asked if he could show us some vehicles that many suit or needs as we needed to purchase a vehicle. He looked confused, as he had thought his job was over in telling us that they had no cars that were requested to see. I shook my head and asked my colleague to come with me around the lot again to see if we overlooked something. I would have thought as a salesman, the guy would have picked up on the “Buying Signals”, however he didn’t, not even a little. So we walked out to the lot to once again try our luck at finding an alternative vehicle. While out on the lot another salesman, in crossing the lot, asked if we needed any help? We said yes we would like some help, however, did they have anyone that could communicate in English as my Slovak is not at a mechanical or technical level to talk Shop. He quickly got on the radio and found one person who could communicate in English, and you got it, the same salesman that helped us from the reception. Two things ran through my head, we are not going to get anywhere here, and I guess they truly don’t want to sell me a car. I explained to my colleague that I was sorry for wasting his time and for not accomplishing any of our tasks. He said one thing, “this is Bratislava, and this is how it usually goes here”. Shocked , I had to ask when we got to the car one thing, “what do you mean this is how it usually goes”. So in short he replied, “the salesmen doesn’t care about selling you a car, it is their job to be here, not to do anything more than open a door and sit in the car during a road test. “ Totally confused about this, I got into a discussion of how things work in America, and the response was “yeah, we see that in the movies, but it just isn’t like that here”.
With a very disappointing experience at the Auto Salon, I just wanted to leave an go home, but as my colleague had made the trouble to join me for the search we decided to stop at a few other places to check out what they have to offer. One after the next, closed on Saturday and Sunday. I am so confused with this, as who has the ability to view, test-drive, or buy a car during normal working hours? Anyone who can buy a car, has a job, at least this is what I thought. Therefore why would any sales driven industry limit its sales time by not being open on Saturday or Sunday? These are the busiest days for sales in the U.S., just ask any car salesman. They will take off two days Monday – Friday and work their weekends. This is how they make money, and get most of their sales and business.
My conclusion, Auto Salons don’t care about making a sale, they would rather have their time off during the weekend rather than make a good amount more sales. So now I have to do what everyone has done with purchasing a vehicle here in Slovakia. I will take a morning off work to go to an Auto Salon to test drive a vehicle I saw sitting on the lot over the weekend. I hope that my journey will end there in search of a vehicle, as I can’t afford to take a full holiday to find a vehicle. When I do find my new/used car I will be sure to write a nice letter to the owner and managers of AAA Auto, thanking them for their salesmen’s lack of interest in selling a car to me and that their guidance helped me to find another Auto Salon to purchase from. I hear nothing but nightmare stories from all my colleagues about AAA Auto, and I must say, I will not have anything good to say about them either. It makes me wonder how they can survive and who actually can or would purchase a vehicle from them? I hope my search will end soon and I will manage to get a vehicle that will be reliable and what I need to haul my family around in.
By: Daniel Logan