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Toyota Santa Monica (C) The Joyous Living

 

Toyota Santa Monica

I tentatively scheduled a time to come down to Santa Monica with Santiago and he promised to call if someone bought the car before I arrived which would save me an hour commute each way. Once we arrived, the lot was somewhat confusing to navigate. There are two separate lots on either side of Santa Monica Blvd. The pre-owned inventory and office is on the right side of Santa Monica Blvd if you are coming from the 10 Freeway and get off at Lincoln Blvd. The finance offices are on the left side with the new inventory. A bit confusing but there’s a handy cross walk if you end up on the wrong side.

Thank you Santiago

Santiago was engaging and helpful without being overbearing and overwhelming. He showed us the car, took us for a test drive, and I never once felt pressure from him. We decided to think it over while eating lunch and said we might be back but gave no guarantee or promise. What do you know but soon after (we hadn’t even left the lot yet) but his manager comes running out to meet us and asks what I would need to make an offer and I said it would probably need to be $1k less due to my financing. He said let him think about it and crunch some numbers and we said we’d go to lunch. Again Santiago was a gentleman and there was no excessive pressure to buy on the spot or come in and sit at the desk while the manager looked at numbers.

 

We went to lunch and I got a call from Santiago that the manager had been able to lower the price another $850. Yay. I was already pretty set on this car being the one for me (low mileage, had been excellently cared for, and I could pay cash thanks to the Geico settlement and a gift from my folks) but this was the selling point. I was sold so I told Santiago we would be back after lunch. We came back and he gave us a print out of the numbers that I thought was very handy and helpful — everything was spelled out. I asked about the restocking fee and asked if that could be waived should my mechanic suggest I return it. Oh yeah and they didn’t even hassle me when I took the warranty (overpriced for the value of the car) off the table [more about that later]. They were kind enough to do that and I was off to the finance office and Santiago took the car to fill up the gas, have the oil changed and the car cleaned.

The Only Negative Part – Finance Officer

The finance office was definitely my least favorite part of the experience and the only time I felt pressured, hassled and ready to walk out of the building no matter if I had the car or not. Our finance officer was a pleasant enough Korean American gentleman and unfortunately he didn’t have any business cards so I don’t know his exact name but I think it is Eugene (?). Either way, he rubbed me and my dad the wrong way because of several things including:

 

  • Telling me my car was extremely undervalued (saying it was worth $3k less than I was paying)
  • Telling me that the car wasn’t a great car
  • Telling me that I MUST get a warranty and really PUSHING and PUSHING. I think I even kicked dad under the desk to get him to shut this guy up.
  • Insisting I needed to use my excellent credit to finance for a new car (Ugh, no thanks).
  • blah, blah, blah

 

I think he realized he were irritated and tired so he tried to be all sweet and talked about immigration, Trump, and Korean adoptions. Um, the first two are not ways to make me calm down but rather to make my blood boil. By the time he got to the third topic we were just so fed up and anxious to get out of there.

 

Interestingly, when we had shook hands and paid our money and walked out of the office, Santiago asked how hard Eugene (?) had pushed us. LOL. I wonder if this guy has a reputation for being difficult. Either way, we didn’t have to deal with him anymore and could delight in my new (to me) car that was all clean and ready for a drive home.

 

 

And guess what, I managed the drive pretty well — the legs were tired and the hands were hurting but I didn’t have to pull over on the drive home. Yay.

Reino Mobil

I took the car to my mechanic in town (Reino Mobil, Newbury Park, California) — whom I highly trust and respect — and it was thoroughly inspected for $60. The guys said it was in excellent condition (as we expected) and I think it only needs a trip to the detail shop for some wax to preserve the paint better.

Consensus

All in all, I had a fabulous experience with both AAA Car Buying Service and Toyota Santa Monica (especially Santiago). So if you too end up needing a car, might i suggest checking out AAA’s Car Buying service and/or Toyota Santa Monica? And if you end up at Toyota Santa Monica do let them know I referred you because apparently you get a cash referral reward!

I promised some fun news and here it is…

 

I bought a new (to me) car!!! A couple months ago some guy rammed into the back of the family Toyota with his big suburban and the Geico vehicle inspector said “TOTAL LOSS”. Ugh! Two months later we are finally close to getting our settlement. Talk about a nightmare! I will NEVER get insurance with Geico after dealing with them over this not at fault accident. But that’s probably best saved for another story later.

Thank you AAA Claims Rep Knatachia Ulrich

All that to say, I talked to my claims service representative at AAA, Knatachia Ulrich, who is AMAZING. I adore the woman and think she runs circles around the men at Geico I have been dealing with. And it’s thanks to her that we are even making headway with Geico. [If ever you can’t get someone to contact you, call your agent and like Knatachia I’m sure they’ll try to light a fire under the other insurance agent’s backside.] After I explained to her the TOTAL LOSS decision by Geico and explained that I was on disability and needed transportation to get to hand therapy and physical therapy and doctor appointments, she suggested their AAA Car Buying Service. And let me tell you —  it is INCREDIBLE. I don’t know how I would have been able to afford a car otherwise. Even CarMax was impossible but that’s another story too.

AAA Car Buying Service

There is an option for help with NEW or PRE-OWNED CARS. I obviously being on a very tight budget chose PRE-OWNED CARS and started scanning the LONG list. Quite a few of the cars were over 100K miles, had issues like the air bag did not deploy previously, or multiple owners. So you do have to weed through the not so good before you can find one you will be happy with. But I was patient and persistent and on Saturday (1 June 2019) I had an appt at CarMax but decided just before leaving to have one more look at AAA’s website and found my baby! I was able to look at the CarFax report on the website, see photos, and the dealer’s list price (which was $6999). I clicked the button saying I wanted the AAA price (seems to be $500 less on average but I’m sure there are exceptions) and entered my AAA membership number, phone number, etc., and promptly received an emailed “AAA Member Vehicle Certificate” that included my event price as a AAA member ($6499) and a call from the dealership, Toyota Santa Monica, within minutes too from Santiago Gutierrez in their online sales department.

 

 

As you can tell from the screenshot of my vehicle certificate, a AAA member is allowed three fabulous perks if they purchase a car from the program –
1. A discount on an already good value!
2. 5 days/500 miles to return the car no questions asked ($250 restocking fee might apply.) so you can take the car to your own mechanic for an inspection.
3. 20% off extended warranties and after market accessories

 

Toyota Santa Monica (C) The Joyous Living

 

Toyota Santa Monica

I tentatively scheduled a time to come down to Santa Monica with Santiago and he promised to call if someone bought the car before I arrived which would save me an hour commute each way. Once we arrived, the lot was somewhat confusing to navigate. There are two separate lots on either side of Santa Monica Blvd. The pre-owned inventory and office is on the right side of Santa Monica Blvd if you are coming from the 10 Freeway and get off at Lincoln Blvd. The finance offices are on the left side with the new inventory. A bit confusing but there’s a handy cross walk if you end up on the wrong side.

Thank you Santiago

Santiago was engaging and helpful without being overbearing and overwhelming. He showed us the car, took us for a test drive, and I never once felt pressure from him. We decided to think it over while eating lunch and said we might be back but gave no guarantee or promise. What do you know but soon after (we hadn’t even left the lot yet) but his manager comes running out to meet us and asks what I would need to make an offer and I said it would probably need to be $1k less due to my financing. He said let him think about it and crunch some numbers and we said we’d go to lunch. Again Santiago was a gentleman and there was no excessive pressure to buy on the spot or come in and sit at the desk while the manager looked at numbers.

 

We went to lunch and I got a call from Santiago that the manager had been able to lower the price another $850. Yay. I was already pretty set on this car being the one for me (low mileage, had been excellently cared for, and I could pay cash thanks to the Geico settlement and a gift from my folks) but this was the selling point. I was sold so I told Santiago we would be back after lunch. We came back and he gave us a print out of the numbers that I thought was very handy and helpful — everything was spelled out. I asked about the restocking fee and asked if that could be waived should my mechanic suggest I return it. Oh yeah and they didn’t even hassle me when I took the warranty (overpriced for the value of the car) off the table [more about that later]. They were kind enough to do that and I was off to the finance office and Santiago took the car to fill up the gas, have the oil changed and the car cleaned.

The Only Negative Part – Finance Officer

The finance office was definitely my least favorite part of the experience and the only time I felt pressured, hassled and ready to walk out of the building no matter if I had the car or not. Our finance officer was a pleasant enough Korean American gentleman and unfortunately he didn’t have any business cards so I don’t know his exact name but I think it is Eugene (?). Either way, he rubbed me and my dad the wrong way because of several things including:

 

  • Telling me my car was extremely undervalued (saying it was worth $3k less than I was paying)
  • Telling me that the car wasn’t a great car
  • Telling me that I MUST get a warranty and really PUSHING and PUSHING. I think I even kicked dad under the desk to get him to shut this guy up.
  • Insisting I needed to use my excellent credit to finance for a new car (Ugh, no thanks).
  • blah, blah, blah

 

I think he realized he were irritated and tired so he tried to be all sweet and talked about immigration, Trump, and Korean adoptions. Um, the first two are not ways to make me calm down but rather to make my blood boil. By the time he got to the third topic we were just so fed up and anxious to get out of there.

 

Interestingly, when we had shook hands and paid our money and walked out of the office, Santiago asked how hard Eugene (?) had pushed us. LOL. I wonder if this guy has a reputation for being difficult. Either way, we didn’t have to deal with him anymore and could delight in my new (to me) car that was all clean and ready for a drive home.

 

 

And guess what, I managed the drive pretty well — the legs were tired and the hands were hurting but I didn’t have to pull over on the drive home. Yay.

Reino Mobil

I took the car to my mechanic in town (Reino Mobil, Newbury Park, California) — whom I highly trust and respect — and it was thoroughly inspected for $60. The guys said it was in excellent condition (as we expected) and I think it only needs a trip to the detail shop for some wax to preserve the paint better.

Consensus

All in all, I had a fabulous experience with both AAA Car Buying Service and Toyota Santa Monica (especially Santiago). So if you too end up needing a car, might i suggest checking out AAA’s Car Buying service and/or Toyota Santa Monica? And if you end up at Toyota Santa Monica do let them know I referred you because apparently you get a cash referral reward!