I mentioned in a previous post about the car accident I was in on the day after Thanksgiving. Quick recap: we were driving to my in-laws who live near the Alabama gulf coast, and about 15 minutes before we arrived at their home, we were sitting at a traffic light when a distracted teen driver talking on her cell phone slammed into us and pushed us into the 2 cars in front of us. We never saw her coming, she was driving an estimated 45-50 miles an hour and we were at a dead stop.
My car ended up being totaled out. The driver was underinsured, which is a whole issue I want to go off about, but will refrain. My insurance company took over and cut me a check very quickly. They were very fair with what they paid me in my opinion, but as soon as you have cash in hand, the rental is no longer covered, and its time to find a new car. Problem is, I am a car fanatic, I like the details of cars, I like all the fun quirky options, and I only like certain color combinations.
I was still in the honeymoon phase with my car when it was totaled, I had only owned it for about 15 months when we were hit, so my first instinct was to just find that exact car and replace it…. but that proved to be impossible with the local dealerships, so I expanded my search to anywhere within 500 miles of home. The only problem was, it was the week of Christmas. And I was stressed with several other tasks..work, LipSense, Christmas shopping, and the devil was all over the sore throat that started the moment I started car shopping…I got SICK…so sick that even a month later, I still sound terrible. I started searching online using all the apps like cars.com and autotrader.com into the wee hours of the night when I couldn’t sleep. Finally, at the very end of an autotrader search, I had memorized every 2015 and 2016 Infiniti QX80 available for resale…until I noticed this very last listing….it was from a dealership called vroom.com . I had no idea what vroom.com was, and it sounded cheesy to me…but I recognized the backdrop where the car’s photos were taken….it was identical to a place we bought a car 10 years ago, called Texas Direct Auto. The transaction 10 years ago was flawless, and the dealership was so easy to work with. We kept the car purchased from them for a LONG time. I have often searched their inventory when in the market for a car. When I started my car shopping, their site was one of the first ones I had searched but all their QX80’s were base models, none of them had the quirky extras I was looking for…so I was intrigued by this vroom listing….turns out, Vroom is the ecommerce arm of Texas Direct Auto that specializes in helping simplify the car buying process for people that want a certain car but don’t have time to fly across the country and drive it home. So, the fine folks at Vroom listed the very car I was looking for–quirky options and all, at a price that included delivering the car to my house! My mind was BLOWN…because get this….it was within $500 of what the insurance company had paid me for my totaled car. Finally, a glimmer of a silver lining started to emerge. The Carfax was available when I clicked on the listing. The car had just over 20K miles (mine had 63K) and this listing was for a 2015 model (mine was 2014). The only difference was that it was blue (I typically buy white/silver/champagne cars).
I went over the listing with a fine-toothed comb…and couldn’t find anything wrong with it. The website allows you to place a fully-refundable $500 deposit to hold a car for one business day so that you can get more info. Fully refundable deposit…what a concept! So at 2am, I put a car on hold from my iPad.
As tired as I was, I struggled with going to sleep because I wanted to get more info on this car. The next morning, and lovely agent from Vroom named Melanie called me to explain how this works. I had some questions for her about the car, and she answered them with comforting answers. She proceeded to tell me that once you accept delivery on any of their vehicles, you have 7 days and 250 miles to decide if you want to keep the car. WHAT? Thats amazing. They deliver the car to your driveway, and will come back and pick it up at no charge if you decide against it.
I felt very good about taking this risk, so she transferred me to the processing agent who prepared the paperwork for me. I kept waiting for him to say something irritating like “we have a $450 doc fee”…but no….none of that…or if there was, it was less than $100. (At one point during my car shopping, I almost struck a deal with a dealership until I was told they charged at $699 doc fee, and the deal was off)–He was so helpful, and wanted to make sure he did the paperwork with the proper names/ownership/title details. He overnighted the paperwork to me and it arrived with a directions page, highlighted pages where I was to sign, a reminder to make a copy of everything, and a prepaid overnight envelope to send everything back to him, along with my cashiers check. In the meantime, I was able to carry on with my work and home responsibilities.
A quick google search helped me find a third-party car inspection company called the Lemon Squad, who, for a mere $139 went out to inspect the QX80 for me and sent me a full report complete with 82 digital photos 1 day after I hired them. To give you a reference of how smooth this went, I found the car at 2am on Monday morning and paid a “hold deposit” online. Vroom followed up with me at the start of business a few hours later, prepared paperwork for me and overnighted it to me Monday to arrive Tuesday. I hired Lemon Squad Monday afternoon and they completed the inspection Tuesday as I was receiving the paperwork from Vroom.
The only thing left to do was to cut the check for the car at this point, so after work Tuesday afternoon, I met Joseph at his office and we walked over to our bank next door and they typed the cashiers check out for us. I put it in the envelope to send back to Vroom that they provided and paid for, and they received it on Wednesday. Thursday, I received an email that the car had received a final detail and would be shipped to me and it was estimated that the car would be delivered to my home on Saturday. They provided me with the delivery driver’s name and number. Immediately I realized…OH NO…here is where the snag is about to happen–I was expecting delivery to take 7 days, since it was coming from Houston, TX, a solid 10 hours away if driving directly, and the delivery truck was likely carrying several other cars to be delivered. We had made plans to travel to Atlanta for the Peach Bowl Friday-Sunday. I was not going to be able to be there and I’m sure there is some rule that the only person who can accept delivery is the person the title is made out to, right? This is where the whole transaction will probably fall apart… but no. I respond to the email and explain my situation…I said could you do any of the following:
The vroom agent immediately responded, “Sure, we can do any of those options, just tell us which one you prefer.”
Crickets. I had no words. After all the red tape of dealing with the car accident and shady car salesmen around town, I was experiencing the most amazing customer service of my life. I kept waiting for a snag, a technicality, a rude employee, but it never came. After a little thinking, and finally allowing myself to get excited about a “new to me” car, I decided the wise and mature choice (while not quite as fun) was to let my parents take delivery of the car while we stayed focused on the task at hand…Alabama football, specifically the Peach Bowl, the semifinal game that determined who would head to Tampa for the College Football National Championship. I provided Vroom with my Dad’s contact information and home address.
On Friday, we headed to Atlanta and about 20 minutes into our 2 hour drive, I got a text that the delivery truck was ahead of schedule, and he was delivering the car to my parents in the next hour. I resisted the temptation to turn around and my parents were very sweet to text me video of the car being delivered and interior shots of the car as well. It arrived with a tank full of gas, a nicely detailed interior, and a gift in the front seat (phone charger with the Vroom logo). They had a temporary license plate installed and properly displayed with a 2 month expiration date (very generous and appreciated).
Alabama won the peach bowl, and we had a great trip to Atlanta with our kids. We headed back to Birmingham Sunday, and I finally met my new car. With all that was going on during the holidays and working in the healthcare industry (which never closes or slows down) plus being an Alabama football fan, I didn’t have time to deal with car buying issues.
I used to enjoy car shopping but didn’t have it in me this time…so I am thankful for Vroom. I had the dealership here in town check it out and they were very impressed with my purchase. We took it the following week on a long road trip to Tampa, FL for another little football game that I refuse to discuss at this time. I had lots of time to bond with the car and it wasn’t too good to be true…its a great car at a great price and a great convenience. Furthermore, they sent me a lovely thank you gift this week of coffee mugs and fresh baked “brookies” (brownie/cookie hybrid type situation).
I give Vroom my highest praise and recommendation. It is my favorite new way to buy a car. https://www.vroom.com