‘Would you like a newer car?’ Lady BSM asked me a couple of months ago. At first, I thought, no, I don’t need one; after all, my trusty Honda Civic, black and named Kit after the Night Rider car, was extremely reliable. However, it had over 100 000 miles on the clock, so after a couple of weeks, I decided that a newer car would be a good thing, so went to look at Honda Civics (I’m not into cars and know what I like). It took probably less than 2 hours to choose one.
However, we still had to deal with the car salesman. The experience got me thinking: how many jobs are there which rely predominantly on a large portion of bullshit? Or, rather, which occupations do we allow ourselves to be bullshitted to without much protest? Surely, in the 21st century, we know that car salesmen generally spout poppycock as a process to get you to part with several thousand pounds for a hunk of metal, leather and plastic. But still, we accept it’s part of their genetic makeup.
Let me explain what I’m talking about. The salesperson in question sidled up and engaged us in conversation on the forecourt as we looked at a purple Honda Civic.
“So, interested in the ’16 Honda 2-23 magnesio spigotted 4 valve’, are we?” he enquired with a cheery tone. I’ll point out at this point he may not have used this specific description, but I’m rubbish at cars and that’s what I heard.
“What are you driving at the moment?” he continued.
“A Honda Civic,” I replied.
“Oh, great! What model?”
I pointed across the forecourt, indicating Kit.
“That black one,” I explained. He frowned momentarily before showing us a couple of Civics. One had heated seats and a DAB radio, so that would do. We went for a test drive followed by some ‘negotiations’ in the showroom.
Now, Lady BSM deals with these things, so discussions started around how we would offer a certain amount of money and he would suck a thoughtful tooth and make a meagre counter claim.
We all know this game. We know he’s going to reduce the price, but it’s up to us (when I say us, I mean Lady BSM) to get it as low as possible. Then, at a certain point in these negotiations, the true bullshit starts.
“ I’ll have to talk to my Sales Director,” says Keith (they’re all called Keith or Steve), disappearing into the back offices of the showroom.
I looked at Lady BSM.
“Do you think he’s gone to see anybody?” I asked.
She stared ahead, impassive.
“No, I very much doubt it,” she whispered.
He returned to inform us his sales director had looked at the figures and could probably find a bit of a discount here but wouldn’t budge there. He’d tried his best, but the man honestly said he couldn’t do any more. I looked deeply into his eyes, trying to imagine the inside of his head being like the SS Enterprise from Star Trek. A tiny Captain Kirk, controlling his brain, sending a message to his own version of Engineer, Captain Montgomery Scott.
“Scotty, take us to Bullshit Warp Factor 7,” demands Kirk.
Panic in Scotty’s eyes as the car salesman’s brain wobbles and steam appears in the engine room.
“Captain, I cannae keep it at this level, the levels of gullibility are nowhere near high enough!”
I sat back in my chair and waited for the next move from her ladyship. It was a good one, the salesman sucking thoughtfully on his pen as Captain Kirk, Ahuru, Bones et al careered from one ear to the other in his head.
“I’ll have to see our finance manager again,” he said. Lady BSM gave me a warning look, knowing I was about to offer to talk to him myself, but, as tradition states, car salesmen are permitted to keep up this pretence.
Eventually, the deal was done, the car purchased with a full tank of fuel and a promise to fix the broken air conditioning. This took 4 weeks, with me eventually getting ratty when the car salesman didn’t return my calls because he was too busy. At least he was honest, but might have well said “I’ve sold you a car now f*** off”.
Before I conclude, no blog about professional bullshitters can overlook the experts – let’s just take politicians as read – estate agents.
Two examples – firstly, we had one of these amazing breed turn up at our old house to price it. After a cursory look around our cosy 3 bedroomed Georgian residence, he gave his verdict.
“I’d say we could put this on the market for £75 000,” he stated confidently. I stared at him for a couple of seconds.
“ Two other agents have told me £90 000. One up the road, admittedly with one extra bedroom, sold for £100 000 last week.”
He smiled weakly.
“Oh! then I would be pleased to put your house on the market for £90 000!” he beamed.
The only profession where you have no idea how much something is until the customer tells you.
Secondly, several years ago, we had to sell my late mother’s house. I waited with my nephew Dave. Another diminutive, besuited, kipper tied spiv rolled up in his white BMW, emblazoned with the estate agent’s logo. He proved to be the biggest of all Bullshit Agents. I would imagine that his brain’s Captain Kirk was in a coma and Scotty horribly burned in an attempt to reach BS Warp Factor 11.
“Well, y’know, I s’pose you’ve seen s few agents, but I’m yer man,” he swaggered.
“Here’s my article explaining how I’m far more successful than any other estate agent in selling your house quickly,” he boasted, handing me a leaflet.
I read it. Basically, his revolutionary sales success came from offering houses at a lower price than anybody else would.
“So, let me ask you something,” I said, “ can I buy your car for £100?”
He looked at me and then out of the window at his car.
“Wha- that’s a 5 series mate! It’s worth twenee grand!”
“I’m sure it is,” I replied, “but you’d sell it a lot quicker.”
He turned to Dave for some help.
“I think it’s time you left,” said Dave…