How to fail at selling a car battery to a biological female

The car has become… an article of dress without which we feel uncertain, unclad, and incomplete.
~Marshall McLuhan

I took my car to the dealership to have its oil changed this weekend, and they told me that the battery failed the load check. My first thought was, of course, that the battery is not that old (four years). My second thought was that I can get a battery for less than the $130 quoted me by the dealership.

So I told them I’d hold off on that for the moment and the next day at work I talked to one of my co-workers, who has far, far more car experience than I. He reminded me of a simple fact: the only places I really drive to are work (from home) and home (from work). The only terrible thing that would happen if I had a dead battery would be that I’d either have to bike to work and/or catch a ride from someone to Napa to get a new battery.

Basically, as he said, the dealership “just wants to sell a battery.” They tried to play on fear (being unable to start the car to get where I need to go) to sell it to me.

My car doesn’t need a new battery yet. I’ve still got plenty of starts on the current battery. And I’m not so dependent on it that having it fail to start is that big a deal. And I’ve got my savings account to help cover it should I find myself without the money to pay for it immediately, so that’s not even an issue. Waiting until my current battery is completely dead is both frugal (I get more starts per battery) and green (more starts per battery means fewer batteries need to be produced).

This is a perfect example of selling by fear, which is a subset of the “but I might need it someday” syndrome. I will not die because my car did not start. I will not be raped by hooligans. I will not be stranded for long, if at all. I probably won’t even miss work. I will have to get a ride, buy a new battery, and pay for someone’s dinner. I had a dead battery once before…nearly everyone has. I called my dad who called my cousin, who picked me up, drove me to Napa, helped me pick out a battery, and installed it. I drove away less than an hour later.

Not everything has to be a big fucking deal.


4 Responses to “How to fail at selling a car battery to a biological female”

  1. I lived in Anchorage, Alaska for 17 years. Sometimes I forgot to plug in my car, or forgot to go out and start it on colder-than-usual days. The result: A dead battery.
    But as you say, it’s really not the end of the world. Usually I could get a passerby or co-worker to jump it for free. (And I jumped my share of other people’s dead batteries.) If it happened before I left for work, I could call a taxicab to do the honors.
    A suggestion: Find out what a battery should cost and then start watching the auto-supply-store ads for swell deals. Even if you have to hang on to this replacement battery for another six months to a year, it’ll be ready when you need it.

  2. And if you’re really paranoid, you can always get a battery and keep it in the trunk until you need it. It’s not like they’re difficult or time-consuming to change out.

  3. Julie Says:

    Great point.

  4. Dargon Says:

    Just nit-picking here. Independent suppliers might pull that sort of shit on a biological female and not pull that on a male, but dealerships pull that shit on everyone.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s