A Demonstration: Why it's bad to negotiate in German

Dear Car Talk

Dear Car Talk | Nov 01, 1991

Dear Tom and Ray:

I want to purchase a new BMW 325i in Germany in 1992. What should I know? Where should I start? How do I get it changed to American specifications? Any info would be greatly appreciated.

TOM: What should you know? A little German would help. Here's a good place to start: 45,000 Deutchmarks fur diese blech Kanne? Hast Du Ein Vogel? (45,000 Deutchmarks for this tin can? Have you had a bird?)

RAY: Actually, Deborah, you don't have to negotiate in German. Your BMW dealer here in the states can make all the arrangements for you. Like many of the European manufacturers, BMW has a European Delivery Program that takes care of all the details.

TOM: You essentially buy the car through your local dealer. You book a flight to Munich, they spring for the cab from the airport to the factory, you pick up your car, and off you go.

RAY: After a week or two on the Wienerschnitzel Expressway, you leave the car at a pre-arranged drop-off point (it doesn't have to be in Germany), and BMW ships the car home for you.

TOM: And they take care of making all the changes necessary for the American market--like throwing in the instruction booklets for "performance sidewalk driving" and "tips on how to achieve autobahn speeds on crowded city streets."

RAY: Actually, Deborah, we've driven the new 325i, and it's a very nice car. It drives beautifully, and it's by far the nicest small BMW they've every made. It's much more like those wonderful big BMWs than the old 325 was.

TOM: So I'd go for it, Deborah. You'll end up saving about 10% on the cost of the car, which should be just about enough to pay for the trip. But we do suggest you learn a few useful German phrases before you go, like: Konnte Ich bitte atwas TK am meinem Sauerkraut haben? (May I please have some crushed Rolaids to sprinkle on my sauerkraut?)

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