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Buying and selling cars is horse trading

February 5, 2014
By Larry DeHays , Fort Myers Beach Bulletin, Fort Myers Beach Observer

Some people are uncomfortable trying to sell something expensive, like a car. I'm one of them. I usually buy a car, or a boat, and run it till it quits, then fix it and run it some more, until I finally have to almost give it away. Failing that, those of us with this affliction simply trade one car in for another, thereby letting a dealer sell our old one for a profit that we could have made if we weren't so chicken.

We are also the reason cars are now offered on leases, instead of outright sales. We don't want to have to deal with selling it when we're through with it. This lets a dealer make a profit again. If there wasn't a profit involved, there wouldn't be a leasing program. This same affliction, let's call it "lilly-liveritis" is also why there are used car and used boat dealerships on nearly every corner.

These people are our present day horse-traders. They are willing to haggle and bargain with us and with each other to buy and sell this stuff and make a profit at it, whereas we are not. Some of us are simply reluctant to haggle, and some would rather take a beating. We wish everything had a price tag, like Car Max advertises and we simply had to decide if we could afford it. Deep down, of course, we all must realize that everything in a free economy is negotiable. That's why prices change. We may not have the individual clout to affect prices, but the market does, and prices reflect that.

The modern exception to the above affliction is, of course, the Internet. Sites like eBay and craigslist give us the ability to negotiate without looking a horse-trader in the eye as we tell him he is asking too much, or offering too little. We can simply click on counter offers, without disclosing our identities, and see if it is accepted.

Lilly-liveritis might be good for the economy, because thousands of horse-traders have jobs in dealerships, that don't require actual horses. I doubt if there are enough horses to keep all of these people busy, and if they went to unemployment lines, the system would crash as they haggled for their benefits. There is a theory that Internet sites might be hurting the horse-trading industry by circumventing them, allowing people to sell person to person. I think the theory was advanced by the horse-traders. They like to warn consumers about buying from the Internet, because of hidden defects and so forth. But these same dealers buy cars and car parts off of the same sites as the consumers and put them on the market, both in their lots and on line. It's capitalism at work.

As an aside: I once went to war to defend capitalism (I thought), but we quit, so they won, and now we import their cheap, farm-raised shrimp, thereby decimating our own shrimping industry. I guess they're not finished beating us yet. Sometimes capitalism produces strange bedfellows, but the other systems seem worse.

So if we wish to sell or buy a car, we can use Internet sites like eBay and craigslist, or the classified ads in newspapers and magazines, or shop at corner used car lots, or new car dealerships, or simply use word-of-mouth with friends. That last one is the trickiest. Selling your car to a friend is risky. They will expect no problems with the car because a friend (you) sold it to them. But there was something wrong with it, or you wouldn't be selling it. Full disclosure of all known problems is mandatory, but they will still blame you when anything goes wrong in the future. If you want to join the horse-trader club, you have to have thick skin, like a mule.



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