Benoit is the new love of my life. No, he is not some hot, looking French guy, he is my Renault Megane. He is the newest member of my family and I think he is the cutest car ever. Moreover, he takes me on the most awesome road trips I could ever imagine.
The journey to getting Benoit was rather difficult, though. Once we landed in FranceLand, we had to rent a car for a while. Well, a while turned into 7 or 8 weeks. I was spending so much time at the office (including all evenings and weekends) that we just didn’t have time to shop around. On top of the fact that we had no idea what cars were good to buy here.
We started doing research about a month before buying Benoit. This was no easy task, the cars here are very expensive and if the manufacturer is an import, they are more expensive than what you could buy it for in the states (and I mean by thousands!). Also, every single dealership was advertising prices that were good only if you were turning in your old vehicle. This didn’t apply to us.
We went back and forth on if we were going to buy a Toyota, Ford or Renault. We thought for sure that we had settled on a Toyota Yaris, it was a little pricey but the quality was good and we were familiar with the brand (we had a Tacoma and Camry in the states). The problem was, once we saw and drove the car, we all agreed that it was a little too small for the three of us. Going up in size, buying the Corolla, was too expensive. So we continued to shop around. We must have been to 15 different dealerships to learn about all the different cars and the price points.
Finally about a month later, we found a dealership in Arles (which is quiet far from us) who had a Hyundai I30 that Dude seemed interested in. So we took off one morning and scoped it out. It was nice, but the color was awful on the car. So we took a lunch break, searched a little more and found that exact same car in white, but in Cavaillon. This was about another 45 minute drive for us. Once we got there, we proceeded to look around the entire car lot to find the darn thing. We couldn’t spot it anywhere! Maybe it was sold already and we went there for nothing! We made a second pass around the car lot. Nope, not there. We finally went in to talk to a sales agent. Do you know what they told us? They said, “Yes, we have the car still, but it isn’t here. It’s at our other dealership in Pertius, which is about an hour from here.” Really? Why didn’t you just say that in your ad, dufus??
Well, Dude really wanted to test drive the Hyundai I30 so we got directions on how to get to Pertius and off we went. An hour later we got lost in the town and ended up driving up and down the same street 5 or 6 times. Finally, we stopped to ask directions (it was me who did this, since all dudes don’t know how to ask directions). Once clear on where the dealership was we were able to find it in about 5 minutes! I can’t believe it was just down the street and we couldn’t seem to find it. Actually, never mind, I do believe it.
Into the dealership we went. The sales guy came out to meet us. He knew we were coming thanks to the dumb “I advertised this car, but don’t have it” dealership letting him know we were on our way. So he showed us the nice, white Hyundai I30 that my husband drove ALL over the south of France for and guess what? It had a big ding in the side door. What the heck? I was so pissed (and so was Dude), but he wanted to drive it anyway so we did. He went first then I took a spin. He really liked the car, but I wasn’t all that thrilled with it. I thought it was too big and it felt clumsy to drive. Since we couldn’t decide, we both took another spin. I was not at all satisfied, but Dude was still seriously considering it. He really liked it and said we could wheel and deal due to the ding.
I took a gander around the lot and spotted Benoit. He looked really decent and was the same price as the Hyundai I30. The sales guy said it was a great car and had high marks. It was used, but the person was an “oldie” and only had it for a year. It had all the bells and whistles and NO DENTS. Very important!
So off we went for a spin. First Dude, then me. I liked Benoit so much better, so did Tinki. The drive was smoother, no bulking feeling inside, but plenty roomy. Dude was not sold, yet. He decided to take the Hyundai I30 for another tour. Once done, he was really indecisive so we called our friends who live on the west coast of France and asked them their opinion. They told us to go with Benoit. The reason was that he is a Renault and it would be a lot easier to get service since there are Renault dealerships everywhere and the Megane was ranked pretty high on the list of good cars. Viola! So there you go.
Now it was time to do the deal. In the sales agent’s office we had to sign all the paperwork, give up all our personal info and hand over a down payment check. Then this guy asks me when we want to take the car home with us. Huh, can you repeat the question, please? I, in my naïve American way said, “Right now, of course” (because that’s what happens in the states, duh). In America, once the deal is done, you pay or get a loan, and then you get to leave the lot with your car. HELLO FRANCE!
Here, no way! Of course not. This guy proceeds to tell me that I have to wait 3 days and then come back to get my car! Three days!! Kid you not. I didn’t get. He said they clean it, check all the engine stuff and make it up to speed with some fantastic 100 point system that they just made up to piss people off and not give them their car right away. I just couldn’t believe that after all that (plus the countless hours to get to this dang place) I was going away empty handed!
But, that is exactly what happened. He told us we had to make an appointment to come back! A friggin’ appointment! I am supposed to pay thousands of dollars and he wants me to make a rendez-vous. What, were they going to check my driving record to see if I am worthy of a Renault! Customer service is non-existent, I tell you. So being that I was in France and not America, by gosh, I had to abide by the rules because this guy was not giving up this car.
So off we went leaving poor Benoit without a real home for three whole days!
Three days later we made the long trip back to Pertius with the remaining balance so we could get our little guy. When we got there we got a grand welcome fit for a princess. They had Benoit all cleaned up and under a tent with a “Bienvenue “sign and all. It was ridiculous. The sales guy gave us the 5 centimes tour of the car to be sure we understood everything and asked if we had any questions. Yes, I do have a question, “Are you gonna hassle me today about taking my car home because it isn’t 5pm or something”?? No, I didn’t really say that, but I wanted to. The truth of the matter is that I really like the sales guy I just didn’t like their 3 day waiting period (as if I was buying a weapon or something).
We were finally able to bring our little car home. I love him to pieces. He is super cute, super French looking and he is a real trooper about road trips and hasn’t complained once. That’s the kind of car I like. I guess we will keep him.