The CarMax Experience
I found myself unexpectedly car shopping last week. While it wasn't a complete surprise but it always seems to sneak up on us. This how it usually goes down. The car that we've had for 5+ years is nearing the 150K mile mark. Like clockwork, minor things start malfunctioning or totally stop working then the not-so-minor things. We then take it to the mechanic and decide that the fix isn't worth the investment for a car with high mileage and no longer under warranty. The decision is literally made on the phone with the mechanic as he spouts off items that need to be repaired and how much it will cost. All I see are repair bills after another at this point. And so, here we are, once again in need of a newer vehicle.
Car shopping should be a happy time. I mean, YOU GET TO BUY A CAR! But sadly, the prospect of dealing with car dealerships is enough to make me drive a car to the ground. I always felt like I was taken advantage of when buying a car. The negotiations with the car guy is awkward and tense and I leave feeling like I was pushed into something I wasn't prepared to accept. Then we discovered CarMax.
We bought our first car with CarMax longer than I can remember....maybe 13-14 years ago? Since then, I can count at least 8 different transactions with CarMax (buying and selling). The experience is painless and I walk away with my dignity. The website is the best in the industry. The user experience is flawless and they've put a lot of effort into what the consumer wants to see. They usually have great inventory and you can find all the information you need about the vehicle with a click of a button. There are sometimes more photos on a CarMax vehicle than some homes on the MLS! Yes, that makes me sad for the real estate industry. With that said, I saw photos of cars taken while it's raining and the interior is wet (please stop that).
After saving a few cars on the website, we decided to test drive a couple. There's always someone to help as soon as you walk in the door. This time, a salesperson named Jesse helped us at the CarMax in Fredericksburg, VA. I had questions about maintenance with the different car brands. I came in looking to purchase a foreign luxury vehicle that I probably would have had regrets about later on, especially since I've been there and done that. It's nice to have someone verbalize what you're already thinking. He was upfront and honest about the cost to maintain some of the brands we looked at. Here's the thing, CarMax salespeople are paid the same no matter what car we buy. What a novel idea! Whether I buy a $10K car or a $30K car, it makes no difference. As a result, the salespeople do not have to upsell the customer.
Our car shopping experience this time only lasted 2 evenings. There was no stress involved at any point. It was a highlight of the week. They purchased our car at a fair value and took care of the DMV transfer paperwork. Two hours after we walked in, we had keys in hand.
So thank you, CarMax for creating a positive experience from start to finish.