I finally managed to sell my Audi Q7 this week (too big, too thirsty, too environmentally unfriendly and - most of all - too difficult to park), and set off in my quest to buy a smaller local runabout car (long motorway trips are a thing of the past now I am 7 months pregnant, plus we have other cars to transport the kids en masse).
I had three key specifications: I wanted a small 4x4 or jeep, it had to be an automatic and I had to have something which was available fairly immediately.
Other than that I was very open and receptive to all suggestions, and set off, chequebook in hand believing (wrongly) that this would be easy...
First stop, Daihatsu, whose mini 4x4 Terios fitted all the criteria. Firstly it was unbelievably difficult to find a dealer; we finally got details of one in Sheffield but drove there to find the dealer had moved and after a further drive around found that they had changed to Skoda - and also were not open on a Sunday.
So, off to the Mansfield branch, who did have a black one but the interior was very plasticky and cheap.
In the absence of any other automatic models, the saleman proceeded to try to sell me a manual (Salesman: 'It's very difficult to find automatic jeeps you know.' Me: 'But I want an automatic!') then a Subaru Jeep (Salesman: 'They're a very reliable jeep' Me: 'But I don't want a big car!') and then a Subaru Saloon (Salesman: 'They're even safer than a 4x4 you know!' Me: 'But I want a 4x4!')
So Daihatsu was abandoned and with a certain fondness for Fiat Pandas (that was my first car) I went to look at their 4x4 version.
First question to salesman: 'Does this come in automatic?' Salesman: 'Yes madam' - so we began to discuss availability and colour choices (I was ready to buy one on the spot), from which it transpired - after a 10 minute conversation - that actually the 4x4 version didn't come in automatic after all.
And so we were back to the 'Automatics-are-very-hard-to-find-why-don't-you-consider-a-manual?' conversation.
A brief trip to Toyota down the road revealed they no longer do the RAV4 in a small version, and my mind briefly turned to the idea of a Yellow Beetle Cabriolet (OK, this broke all the criteria, but I'm a woman OK - and that means I can have changes of heart - so long as it is at my whim and not that of a salesman...)
But a call to VW Chesterfield which revealed the same story: 'Automatic Beetles are like gold dust'; there were only 4 options on the entire VW network, all second-hand and none of them yellow.
I took this as a sign from the Universe that I was not destined to have a Beetle after all. Plus it wouldn't be very good in Bakewell in Winter...
A previous visit to Suzuki had discounted the Vitara (a little too big and limited colour choice) and the Jimny (not available in automatic) - but in desperation I decided to reconsider the Vitara option - and so sent for a brochure via the internet.
Amazingly, the brochure arrived by first class post next day; the separate Price List also revealed that the Jimny (perfect size and spec) WAS available in an automatic.
In excitement, I immediately called the Chesterfield dealer.
Yes madam, we have an automatic in our compound; Yes madam, you can have it immediately; Yes madam, I can have it here for you to look at it if you come in today. Oh and by the way, it's nearly end of the month so I can give it to you on special offer.
So, within 4 hours the car was viewed and purchased.
That was Thursday; and I go collect it today.
While we were doing the paperwork I noticed from the whiteboard on the office wall that my salesman (Mark) was leading salesman at Autoworld that month. No surprises there!
Which lead me to thinking about how incredibly easy it is to sell to women:
LISTEN - and then just give them what they want.