Buying a Car

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Jill and Mark discuss their recent car buying experiences.

Mark: Mark Kaufmann here, how’s everybody?

Jill, how’s it going today?

Jill: Good, thanks, how are you?

Mark: Good, welcome to the EnglishLingQ Podcast.

Well, it’s not raining right now.

We were just talking about how…

Jill: Don’t jinx it!

Mark: …it’s been extremely miserable around here lately, although, right now there’s this bright thing sort of shining in my eyes through the window.

Jill: I don’t know what it is.

We haven’t seen it for a while.

Mark: No. I hope somebody does something about that because it’s hard on the eyes.

Jill: Oh gosh, yeah, it’s terrible.

Actually, I think it was on Thursday we had several nice hours because I went out for a walk at lunch and there was blue sky.

Maybe it was Friday, I can’t remember, Thursday or Friday, because it was the only day in the last two weeks where there was some blue sky.

Mark: Right.

Jill: So I went out for a walk and it was really beautiful, but then I notice by the time I left at the end of the day it was raining again and, basically, has been raining ever since with a few breaks here and there.

But, apparently, it’s supposed to start being nice tomorrow for a few days.

Mark: Oh really?

Jill: Yes.

Mark: I hadn’t heard that I was expecting more of the same.

We’ve got to be setting some records.

Like it’s not just raining, it’s raining hard.

Jill: And windy and, I mean, I guess… See, the temperatures are quite high.

Mark: Right.

Jill: There’s been a lot of sort of 8-9 degree weather, so it’s not really cold, but it’s damp and it’s gray and dark.

Mark: The problem is when it’s that warm then it’s not always snow up on the mountain.

At least if it’s a little cooler you can justify it by saying boy, is the skiing or snowshoeing ever going to be great this weekend.

Jill: Yeah, exactly.

Mark: Chances are it’s been raining up on the ski hills also, which is too bad.

Jill: It was just sort of very wet snow on Saturday; I went up snowshoeing.

Mark: Oh you did, yeah.

Jill: And so in the morning when I was up there and it was pouring rain down here it was, you know, probably just zero degrees up there, because it was barely snow, kind of icy snow or wet snow.

So, yeah, it’s not getting that cold up on the mountains either.

Mark: Although, it looked like they had fresh snow up there.

Like driving in today you could see up the hill.

Jill: Yeah.

Mark: I guess even to 2 or 3 above, very often, snow will still fall up on the hill.

It doesn’t have to be zero for snow to fall, like it comes down if it’s cold enough…

Jill: Yeah.

Mark: …or close to zero.

Anyway, I think there’s still a lot of snow up there.

I didn’t quite get up there this weekend I was busy watching soccer in the rain.

Jill: Like most other weekends in the winter.

Mark: That’s right.

What was funny is, as you say, on Saturday it cleared up for a couple hours and I thought oh, it’s going to be nice.

I went to the soccer game without my raincoat or umbrella or a hat or any type of rain protection.

Jill: And how long have you lived in Vancouver?

Mark: Yeah, it really wasn’t very smart, but maybe I’m a bit optimistic.

Jill: Yes, yes.

Mark: The minute her soccer started it started raining and rained the whole time.

I was pretty damp by the end of it.

Jill: Ah, that’s not pleasant.

Mark: Anyway, that’s how it is here.

Jill: And it can change so quickly the weather here.

It can go from being sunny and nice and an hour later it’s pouring rain outside or vice-versa.

Mark: You find that?

I mean there’s some change but, in general, if we’ve got nice weather we have nice weather for a while.

If we’ve got bad weather we get bad weather for a while.

Jill: Yeah.

Mark: We get weather systems that kind of stick around, I thought.

Jill: Well yeah, for sure, but within a day it can be decent out for a while and the next time you look out all of a sudden it’s hailing or something.

All these weird things can happen very quickly.

Mark: Yeah.

Jill: Usually, though, you’re right, you get a system that is there for a few days or a week or whatever, but it’s been particularly bad the last couple weeks.

Mark: It has been; I can’t deny that.

We’ve got Henry our programmer…any of you who have been listening to the French LingQ Podcast will know Henry…anyway, he’s from France and he’s now here in Vancouver working with us.

I think he’s wondering what all this weather is about here in Vancouver.

Jill: Although, he said it’s very much like this where he’s from in France.

Mark: Oh, is that right?

Oh, okay.

Jill: He said the weather is very similar, wet and rainy in the winter.

Mark: I mean a lot of places in the winter if it’s not snowing it’s kind of gray and raining, yeah.

It’s wintertime, what can you expect?

Jill: That’s right.

Mark: We should all move somewhere more south.

Jill: No, I love it here.

I don’t want to move, I just want to get away once in a while and see some sunshine.

Mark: I thought you were going to say I’m just waiting for global warming to kick in.

Jill: No, no, I won’t hold my breath.

Mark: No.

Anyway, we thought today…because in the last I guess six months or so both of us bought new cars, not necessarily new, but new to us…I thought that might be an interesting topic, something that many of our listeners experience in their own countries or if they’re immigrants to North America experience here or immigrants anywhere for that matter, just to sort of give people a bit of a sense of what it’s like here when you go car shopping.

Not that I know what it’s like everywhere else, but I thought why not talk about that today.

Jill: Sounds good.

Mark: So you, I guess, got a car in the summer.

Jill: Yeah, we ordered… Well, we got it from the states because right now with the Canadian dollar being so strong cars in the states cost a lot less money than they do in Canada.

I think that’s changing a bit, manufacturers, car manufacturers and dealers, maybe independent dealers, are offering rebates and very low financing options and stuff in Canada to try to keep people here.

But we actually bought a car in the summer and another one about a month ago off eBay from the states.

I know it’s kind of a big purchase to do through eBay and not everybody would feel comfortable doing that, but we’ve done it twice and it’s worked out really, really, well and we’ve saved a lot of money.

We didn’t buy brand new cars; both of them are 2004s, so a few years old, but in great condition.

We bought them through reputable dealers who had a history on eBay as being very good to deal with, always 100 percent positive feedback and yeah, it’s just worked out really well for us.

Mark: Well, good for you.

In this Internet world, why not?

I mean, yeah, especially given the big difference in car prices because of the big change in the value of the Canadian dollar.

Yeah, if you can get on the Internet and save yourself, you know…it’s significant; it’s like 25 percent, like it’s a big difference.

Jill: It’s a big number, yeah.

Mark: When you’re talking about cars that’s a big number.

And, yeah, there’s a bit of hassle at the border bringing it in, but I think you said really not too bad.

Jill: No and I mean this last one that we got there was no trouble at all, no hassle at all.

It was very easy, it went very smoothly and we probably saved about $8,000 even after paying our shipping and paying duty and Canadian taxes and all of that.

At least $7,000 anyway we saved and it really wasn’t a big hassle in any way.

Mark: Yeah, it’s amazing.

I mean, I guess prices will eventually reflect the change in the dollar, but I tell you, the dollar has been strengthening for a few years now and prices have not adjusted for anything as far as I can tell.

Even at the bookstore you look at books and books here are still 25 percent more expensive than they are in the states.

Jill: At least 25 percent.

I have noticed though that a lot of stores here are putting things on sale.

Some places are even offering if there are two prices to charge the American price.

Mark: Oh, is that right?

Jill: Because I think the retailers and the merchants are realizing that — especially places close to the border like Toronto and Vancouver — it’s so easy to get across to the states that people go down there for the day and shop and they’re losing all of that.

Mark: Yeah and it’s quite a touchy issue or a prominent issue right now.

People are complaining about, you know, why are prices here not the same?

I guess the merchants are saying well, you know, we paid what we had to pay…

Jill: And they did.

Mark: …for these goods when we bought them and very often they’re buying ahead, you know, six months, a year, in advance so that “What are they supposed to do?” type of thing.

Jill: That’s right.

People feel ripped off, especially when you can see two prices.

Mark: I would imagine they move more quickly when it’s time to raise prices.

Jill: Well, this is the thing, yeah.

Mark: It’s not like it’s a surprise.

I guess people always assume that we don’t want to cut prices and then have the dollar go the other way type of thing.

But, anyway, yeah, no, I thought that was neat to buy not one but two cars on eBay.

Jill: Yeah, yeah.

Mark: Yeah, I mean why not?

I think from what I can tell there’s a lot of people…not a lot, but the number of people buying cars on eBay, especially Canadians buying cars from the states on eBay, is increasing rapidly.

And people buying cars in the states, in general, and importing them; there’s been a big rise in people doing that.

Jill: I think some people…especially high-end vehicles and probably brand new high-end vehicles – things like Porches and Mercedes and very expensive cars – I think you save a lot of money.

Like I think you can save $20,000 on a new one.

Mark: I would think so.

Jill: And so I think some people even buy them and then sell them here.

Mark: Yeah, right. Yeah, I would think that happens, for sure.

I know that some car manufacturers forbid their American dealers from selling new cars to Canadians to protect their Canadian dealers which, again, seems kind of unfair.

Jill: Well, especially given the fact that for years when the Canadian dollar was low Americans came up here left, right and center to buy vehicles here because for them it was a good deal.

Mark: Yeah, exactly.

Jill: You know, so what’s the difference?

Mark: Yeah, now I don’t know if they tried to prevent Americans from doing that then.

Jill: Yeah, I’m not sure either, but I’ve read some articles that say that was happening a lot.

Mark: I remember that, for sure.

Americans would come up here and buy cars before when the dollar was the reverse; when our dollar was so weak, yeah.

I know that the car that we bought when we looked at getting it in the states they wouldn’t sell a new one because it’s a North American car and they said no.

Jill: Really?

Mark: Yeah.

We can’t sell you a new one, but we have some 2007s that they can sell.

So they can sell used cars, but not new and so we ended up getting a 2007 anyway, but we got it here.

Jill: Well, because like I said, they’re offering such low financing now, right?

Mark: Yeah.

Jill: Rebates and all sorts of different…

Mark: So there were a number of incentives that they brought in, obviously, to get people to keep their money in Canada and buy here.

The financing was a nice option because, obviously, if you’re buying on eBay you’ve got to buy it you can’t borrow the money.

A lot of car manufacturers here when you buy a new car you have the option to buy it outright or to lease it or finance it, which means you’re borrowing the money from the manufacturer, basically.

They offer quite low rates, so why not?

Why wouldn’t I?

Jill: Yeah and then you’re not dealing with, you know, any of the headache of importing a vehicle.

Mark: Well, that’s right, you avoid that.

To be honest, after your stories about buying cars on eBay we definitely were looking on eBay.

We were kind of thinking yeah, you know what, we probably will do that and then we looked at the particular car that we got and liked it and it turned out that for that car it wasn’t such a great…

Jill: You weren’t going to save much, right?

Mark: We weren’t going to save that much, so it wasn’t worth the hassle.

Jill: And I think you were saying that for the same year any of the cars you saw in the states had way more miles or kilometers on it.

Mark: That’s right.

Jill: And, actually, we found that too.

The two vehicles we bought and all the other ones we’ve looked at or most that we’ve looked at on eBay seemed to have a lot higher mileage on them then the same year of vehicles here in Canada.

So I don’t know if people have longer commutes in the U.S.

in general or what, but generally I find there’s definitely more mileage on American vehicles.

Mark: I’d be interested to see statistics on that because I just had the feeling when I was in Los Angeles recently that boy, people spend a lot of time driving and you’re driving long distances.

You’re on the freeway so you’re moving quickly, but you’re driving long distances.

Jill: Every day to and from work.

Mark: Yeah and I just remember thinking wow, people here must drive a lot more than we do, at least in Vancouver.

I mean in Toronto I assume they probably drive a lot because it’s that much bigger.

Presumably, the bigger the city the more driving you have to do.

Jill: Right.

I guess in Canada we don’t really have any huge cities.

Toronto is the biggest and it’s, whatever, four million people or five million people and Vancouver is a couple million and, you know, Calvary’s a million, so they’re small in comparison to a lot of American cities, so I guess people don’t have the distances to travel.

Mark: Yeah, I really don’t know.

I mean, obviously, in Canada there’s long distances between cities.

If you do much of that kind of driving then you’re putting a lot of kilometers on your vehicle.

But I did notice that on eBay anyway that wow, these cars have been driven a lot.

Jill: Two-year-old cars and they have, you know, 60,000 kilometers on them.

Mark: Yeah, I know, I know.

Jill: You wouldn’t find that very often here.

Mark: Yeah, I know.

It just may be that’s the kind of car that gets traded in after two years.

Jill: Well, probably a lot of them are leased vehicles.

Mark: Right.

People drive them, they know they drive a lot, they drive them for two years, three years and then they turn them in and get another one, right?

Jill: Right.

Mark: Anyway, I know you were quite sad to get rid of your old car.

Jill: To part with my little Honda? Actually, it’s still in the family.

Mark: Is it?

Jill: I’ve passed it along. I’ve given it to my little sister…

Mark: Oh really?

Jill: …who’s just 16, so she has her learner’s permit.

In April when she turns 17 she graduates to the next level where she can insure a vehicle and drive without an adult present or without…whatever the regulations are, I’m not even sure.

Mark: Yeah.

Jill: So I just gave it to her.

Mark: Right.

Jill: It needs some work it’s a ’93 Honda Civic.

It was a great car; I put so little money into it.

It was just awesome, but I didn’t want to put any money into it now.

It just didn’t make sense when it’s that old, so I’ve given it to her and she’s going to get a few things fixed on it.

Mark: But aren’t those cars that the young punks like because they can soup them up?

Jill: Oh yeah, yeah.

Mark: Isn’t it all the Honda Civics and whatever that the teenagers and street racers like to soup-up?

Jill: Yeah, a lot of times they are, yeah.

Mark: It’s always those…

Jill: …little Honda Civics, yeah.

Mark: Yeah, Honda Civics.

Jill: But they’re really good cars that last such a long time so, hopefully, she can get a couple years out of it now.

Mark: Oh yeah, Hondas go forever, aye?

Jill: Yeah, they’re great.

Mark: Yeah, yeah, it was a bit like our old Durango that we got rid of; our kids liked it better.

Jill: They liked it better than your new one?

Mark: Yeah, yeah, I mean you know how they are.

Jill: They’re just used to it.

Mark: They’re used to it, right.

Yeah, they liked it; except for the new car has a DVD player in it.

Jill: Oh, that must be a big hit.

Mark: Oh yeah, so that’s the only thing they like about it.

Yeah, kids are funny.

Jill: Oh, that is funny.

Mark: Yeah, no, it didn’t owe us anything either.

We’d had that car for, I don’t know, nine years I guess, so it was time.

Jill: Stuff starts going wrong.

Mark: Yeah and then you have to make a decision whether you want to put money in to fix everything up, fix things up that are going to start to go wrong or give someone else that problem.

Jill: Exactly.

Mark: So that’s what we chose to do.

Anyway, I hope this has been interesting to our listeners.

We’re sort of hitting that time when people’s workouts are over, so we’ll let you go and talk to you again next time.

Jill: Bye, bye.

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