For Sale By Idiot: Car Buyers Beware

I have been in need of a car, due to a variety of reasons. Not just any car either, but a CHEAP car, and not cheap like “go to Carmax” or even Bubba’s car lot cheap. Those qualify as NEW CARS for me and would involve payments and that is not what I needed. I needed a cash car and being the lousy saver I am, I only had $1500 cash to spend on this golden chariot, not $1501, so my options were shall we say “limited”.

It’s not like I just woke up from a 50 year coma and thought I could get a car at 1960 prices. I had precedent. In 2009 I bought a 1998 mini van from my neighbor for $500. “What a deal!”. Of course, I had to spend another $1000 to get it road legal, but it was “a deal” and got me around for a year before it went on life support and I traded it to Carmax for $400. I was glad to get it. So this time I was gonna splurge and spend $1500 if I had to, though would prefer less. I really deal in some affluent circles. I’m the guy cruising the seedy parts of town looking for the man on the corner in the raincoat. You know, a true neighbor “hood” “deal Friendly Neighborhood Deal Makarmaker”. A man who can get things.

“Psst! Hey You! Come here. (whispering) Know where I can find a car for $1500?”

“Fool! Get outa my neighborhood man. I can’t be seen talkin’ to no $500 mini-van! You are hurtin’ my reputation just drivin’ by. Now you and your “fine ride” leave before I shoot you for ruining my business. Cheapskate!”

Actual “hood” verbage was a little different but this is a family friendly site. I guess his normal clients had more money to spend. .

Anyway, if you have been in this situation you know the only way to do it is to cruise the online and newspaper ads for individual sellers. Dealers never sell cars this cheap and when they do, there are usually  $500 worth of other fees with it. So I started shopping.

What has the world come to?.

I deal with communication disorders as part of my job. I was trained that we learn a basic set of communication skills and that education, upbringing, training,  etc affects how we  express ourselves.I see it every day. When you have a developmental delay, stroke, or other condition, communication can be affected and I have lots of experience talking to people who communicate poorly due to medical or developmental issues. Unfortunately, these are not the problems affecting people who sell cars themselves via ads.

I believe  the proper term for what I encountered is ICSS “Idiot Car Seller’s Syndrome” and it is truly a frustrating, tragic condition. Not for those with it because they don’t know any better. They are IDIOTS! It’s awful for those of us who try to buy something from one of these clowns. There are several varieties of ICSS, which is what makes it so hard to avoid. You might encounter things like these.

Ad Writer’s ICSS: “1995 Chevy S-10 pickup. $1000 FIRM. Runs great, cold AC. No motor. Drive it to work daily. Needs transmission. Come and get it today. $1800 or best offer. Minor body work. Bring tow truck. Available 12:00 to 12:15 next Thursday”. No phone number or email listed, so I should just use my telepathic skills to find him? Because I might wanna see  a car you can drive to work each day without a motor.

Telephone ICSS: Phone rings:  “Yeah”

“I was calling about the ad for the car. Is it still available?Victim of Phone ICSS


“Well your ad didn’t say much, can you tell me about it?”

“What? It’s an ad.”……(indiscernible mumble)

“The car. Can you tell me the mileage, problems, etc.?”

“Lemme call you back”

He disappears into the abyss. If you call back…..and someone answers….. he still can’t tell you anything or “someone messed up my ad”, or “I didn’t say that” or a million other unbelievably poor ways to handle a phone call. Or he calls you 5 days after you find something else and is mad because you didn’t find his car using your telepathic brain GPS. There is a also an email variant involving the potential for seeing a photo of the described vehicle but it hardly materializes, so the process is roughly the same as the phone, minus the burp.

Common Courtesy ICSS :You finally make an arrangement to go out and see the car and will have cash in hand. You are assured by the idiot (term used without affection) that he will hold onto it until you get there. When you make the hour long trip, hitching a ride because you need a car, you see the golden chariot coming at you from the seller’s house. You get there and are stunned as he tells you he just sold it without letting you know. He’s amazed you are upset.

Paperwork ICSS: Ad says clean title, meaning everything should be straightforward. Hardly. There are a few forms needed to buy/sell a car: bill of sale, clean title, and  a tax form, all of which should be signed by the buyer and seller at the time of sale, as I found out later. That assumes, however, he got them for you ahead of time, he can read or has access to someone who can, and assumes he is not an IDIOT. Then you go and register the car, transfer the title, and pay your taxes and should be good to go. However, if the guy you bought it from didn’t transfer the title when he bought it or doesn’t have the title, he cannot legally sell to you. TOO LATE! Or if the car is not actually allowed to be titled in the US and can only be driven in Europe, which you find out at the title office after the seller has changed his cell phone and moved, you have issues.Might wanna  put that in the ad, huh?

So, after a week of drowning in the sea of ICSS, I finally found a 95 Mustang for $1450.00. it wasn’t my preferred vehicle but it was cheap, runs, and was sold by a guy who avoids phone calls but texts well. Plus, he only suffered from the paperwork variant of the syndrome so I think he may be a Savant. He is working with me on the forms and is a nice guy so far. Naturally, my old car is a little rough looking and needs some work that my local mechanic, who offers credit, is doing today. Only gonna cost me $ 1000 more to make it nearly street legal. What a deal! I wonder how I can make the speedometer work again?

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