By Steve Moran

It’s a sad sad tale …

It is Friday afternoon, and I am driving to my last appointment of the day. I am in the left lane, cruising along in my well-maintained 2011 Honda Pilot that has 155,000 miles on it, on my way to meet my friend Kent Mulkey for a drink. Traffic is typical Friday afternoon clumpy. I ease up on the gas pedal for congestion, the traffic clears, and I press on the pedal to accelerate. 

Nothing happens. I look down at my dash; it is a Christmas tree of flashing red lights, and the RPM has dropped to zero. I am rapidly slowing in the left lane, trying to restart the car and pull out of traffic to the right. 

It won’t start, people are honking at me, and I am frustrated. Finally people figure out the car is not working right, quit honking, and allow me to pull to the right. 

AAA towing shows up rather quickly, and the car is in the shop.  

On Monday, I get the news, and it is all bad. The timing belt broke, the engine is shot. $7,000 to $12,000 to replace the motor with a used motor.  

Time to buy a car …

Just Like Senior Living Shopping

I needed a car. It took me a week to figure out what I wanted, and the process was remarkably and frustratingly like shopping for senior living:

  • Finding objective information about cars and financing is near impossible. 
  • I got offered good information in exchange for my name, phone number, email address — except that when I gave up that information, the information I got back was not that good. 
  • There are aggregator-equivalent websites like Sam’s Club, Costco, Kelley Blue Book, Edmunds, and others. 
  • Even the car comparison sites were built by someone who never actually shopped for a car. The important stuff is scattered all over, or not there at all. 
  • I gave up my info to a lot of places, and that resulted in dozens and dozens of emails, texts, and phone calls — so many and so confusing that I ended up contacting multiple people at the same dealership.
  • The entire goal was to get me into the dealership, where they could persuade me to purchase their car.  
  • I had to walk out of two dealerships because the sales pressure was ridiculous.
  • No one was really interested in trying to help me find what was best for me. They just wanted my money. 

With the exception of talking to multiple people — which is much less likely to happen in senior living — it was exactly like what I experienced when shopping for senior living and what others have described to me. And while it is better than it used to be, it is still pretty terrible.  

I now have a new car and like the car, but feel very negative about the entire process and still think I was ripped off a little by the dealer even after negotiating pretty hard. 

We need to be better than this.