Free movie tickets!

In which Kristen and I try to get free movie tickets in exchange for test driving a car.

When Kristen and I opened our new credit union account, we noticed a coupon for two free movie tickets if you test drive a new car at any of the dealerships on a list. Now, Monsters University just came out, and Kristen has been dying to see MU since last year, and we’re between jobs, and money is tight. So we found a car that looked promising at one of the dealerships on the list. Promising because she really could use a car once she gets a job, and I haven’t taught her to drive stick yet.

So we drove off to the dealership. As our luck would have it, the car we wanted to look at was in the shop in the back of the dealership getting repairs done. “You can’t test drive it tonight,” said the salesman. “Wanna come back tomorrow?” We agreed on a time to meet him. No test drive, no tickets. Strike one.

But just around the corner was another dealership on the list! We drove down and met a salesman. We told him our price range but didn’t really like anything he had available in our range. “Come back any time. We’ll get a lot more over the weekend.” No test drive, and therefore no tickets.

Frustration was building. It was getting later, and the dealerships were going to be shutting down. “Let’s just test-drive a new car,” I said. There was a Honda dealership across the street. We compared the name to the list and drove over. We fared much better. “We just want to have a look around first.” We browsed. We looked. The salesman gave us a closer look and let us in.

We found one, finally, miles outside of our price range. “Would we be able to drive it around the parking lot?” Kristen asked. The salesman hopped in the back and Kristen drove to the office where the salesman photocopied our driver’s licenses and picked up a license plate. We weren’t really fans of that car, so we sat in a Kia and test-drove a Civic, which we kinda liked.

The time came. We went into the building. The salesman sat us down with his sales manager, who told us what the car was worth. We told them the truth, that we couldn’t afford it, but that maybe when we got jobs and had more money we might like that car. We talked about leasing for a while, but it was still obvious that we couldn’t afford it, not now.

The salesman got up to get us his card, and I handed him the coupon from the credit union. He walked off. I smiled at Kristen. Finally. Our tickets were as good as ours. He returned without the tickets.

“I was talking to my manager, and…” Things had taken a turn for the worse. He showed us the list and pointed to the name of his dealership on the paper, and then to the name of his dealership on the wall. They were not the same. We had misread the name, and they weren’t even part of the offer. Strike three.

Kristen and I walked out. I was grinning because it was all so dumb. We’d struck out three times.

We gave up, went to the theater, and paid for our own tickets.

The next day, we went back to the first dealership and test-drove the car we’d seen online. We liked it. The salespeople were relatively high-pressure. They offered us a ridiculously low price on our potential trade, which magically increased by 150% when we told them it wouldn’t work.

Eventually we told them that we weren’t going to buy today and asked for our movie tickets. The salesman went to talk to his manager and came back with a coupon for a couple free nights at a hotel. He said they were all out of movie tickets.

After we got home, I did a little digging around on the internet. The dealership had paid $99 a year  for the right to print off an unlimited amount of those free night at a hotel coupons, and if 33 people use those in that year, they get it all back.

I ripped up the “free movie tickets with a test drive” coupon and threw it in the trash.

About David M. Schell







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