I know, kinda scary and very hard to believe that after 23 years I have to retire the poor old and deeply loved Billy Goat, Mr. Van. Not that I wish to do so, however something rather simple escaped me. When Mr. Billy Goat van dies, which could be any given day, I am out of a job. Out of a job translates to not being able to pay my mortgage, lender forecloses, I end up living with all my little fur bags in my 4-door sedan. Not a great plan.
Instead of returning countless calls from current clients and all the referrals, my time is much better spent planning this venture. Consequently, I have decided to keep a running progress report as to what is happening with Mr. Super Van to keep everyone updated.
Half of December was researching and deciding which of the three vehicles I would purchase. For various reasons I decided on the Chevy instead of GMC and Ford. I start my research with my mechanic who has duct taped this poor van for more years than he would like to remember. I asked which of the three and he said, nothing is going to last and be as good as this old Dodge. You will hate anyone of them, they are all the same, made out of cheap plastic and they are all crap. Pick the least expensive. Works for me. Best mechanic on the planet and the most honest you will ever meet. TD Automotive, Eddie, 303-360-8383, off Buckley and 6th Avenue.
I started visiting God Help Me, dealerships. Right up front I want all to know that other than two car sales people, CAR DEALERS SUCK!!!!!
This is 2008, not 1948 and it is amazing to me that women are still treated like crap in dealerships. The other side of that is some dealerships have women sales people. Problem with that is the token woman is an idiot about their product line. Here is the wonder of what I experienced.
Two Ford dealerships I just want to speak with the fleet manager. Nope, sales person is knowledgeable enough. I say, no, if I cannot speak to the fleet manager I will speak with anyone in fleet sales. After 20 minutes I have the honor of meeting Mr. High and Mighty fleet manager explaining what I am needing to accomplish. Mr. Jackass refers to me as “hon” and I immediately correct him stating that my name is Mimi, I do not know you, we have never met, I am a business woman needing to purchase a business vehicle and even the people I have slept with know better than to call me “hon.” His only comment was, “Then I guess it would really upset you to call you sweetie.” I walk out.
Next Ford dealership after only 10 minutes I am allowed to speak with Mr. Fleet Manager, again explaining what I am needing to do. Again I was referred to as “hon” and “you do realize how expensive these cargo vans are, don’t you, hon?” I said, “You do realize that I was going to pay cash don’t you, baby?” I walk out and on to phone calls. Only one out of 4 Ford dealership fleet staff phoned me back.
If you ever need a Ford fleet vehicle, go see the man below. Bit rough around the edges but Richard can tell you anything you need to know about any of the vehicles he sells. It was so wonderful to work with someone who not only did not grunt and point or say “I dunno” it actually made me nervous. Yet alone be able to answer any question you had and if he did not know, admitted it and would find out. Really made me feel guilty for not buying a Ford.
Mike Naughton Ford
150 S Havana
Aurora, Co 80012
I now move onto GMC’s. Called 4 dealerships, no one has any on their lot. I ask, well can you get on so I can test drive it and come talk to you. No. Okay. I happened to drive by the same dealership I called that said they did not have one and low and behold, one the lot, there it is. I go in and try to talk to the fleet manager; no luck; he pawns me off on a woman sales person. After having to deal with abhorrent men I thought I was lucky but alas I was incorrect. Not only was she unable to answer any questions about the vehicle she was so busy taking personal calls on her mobile that I seemed to be an inconvenience. I leave.
On to Chevy. Nope, not a Chevy cargo van in a 500 mile radius so I am told by 4 Chevy dealers. Dealer #5 says they have one I could test drive and I say I will arrive in 30 minutes. Once I arrive, instead of having the vehicle ready he has to pull it out. However, it is facing the street and the only way out is taking it over the sidewalk, over the curb and onto Havana. He tries to back it out which is going to be impossible since there are three cars blocking it. After about two minutes, big, smart, brave man, of trying to back it out with only 3 inches to clear, on ice, he hangs out the door and says, gosh, I hope you appreciate me trying to do this.
My response was, is there a reason you did not bother to tell me this on the phone? Is there a reason you did not have the vehicle ready since you knew I would be here? Is there a reason you did not get off your lazy ass, find the keys to these other cars and move them out of the way? I leave.
Next Chevy dealer was much better. After again explaining that I need to test drive and asking some questions I had the best response I had ever received. He said, honey, don’t you have a husband, boyfriend or dad to help you with this? The first thought that came to my mind is what if I was a lesbian? It’s a Saturday, busy showroom, lots of people and I decide, this could be fun, I’ll go with this. I yell at the top of my lungs, does this dealership have a problem thinking that lesbians cannot purchase a vehicle without a man! This of course has now attracted a great deal of attention with me demanding to speak to the owner and before he could answer I was walking to the front desk yelling I was calling the news stations. I had a great time.
On to Dodge Sprinter. Armed with all my cargo vehicle reviews, prices, options etc., I knew from all the research I did that the Sprinter has had terrible reviews. Not one to follow the crowd and believe anything I read, I want to find out for myself if the reviews are correct. I talk with the fleet manger explaining what I have already looked at, I have just sat down and the first words out of his mouth was “well, these are very expensive and most small business people buy something more within their budgets.” Now I am really pissed off so I decided I am going to make this asshole’s life hell. I then ask him about the complaints of the vehicle that are so widely written up and he of course says all those people do not know what they are talking about. Despite the fact that not only are these reviews from people in the industry but owners of the vehicles.
I say I want to test drive one. He hems and haws about not being able to find the key. I go up to the manger of the dealership and explain that Weiner Head cannot find a key for a test drive and is it possible for him to assist his fleet manager. They go behind the big glass and whisper. After five minutes the key appears, we get in, him of course in the driver seat and says, sorry, there is not enough gas to go for a test drive. I get out, walk back into the building, ask to see the manager again, and ask if it was possible for Weiner Head to get off his ass and put gas in the vehicle. Gas mysteriously appears, he takes me on a test drive of one block and keeps pressing the point that these are so very expensive. I said that was not a problem since I was paying cash for “both” of them. He then became very accommodating once we got back into his office. I told him he could kiss off and I would never buy anything from him or his dealership.
Angry, tired, migraines daily, I decide that I am getting no place and remembered the car buying places. I call H.B. Brown and get a great guy by the name of Howard Mittner, info below. Treated me like a human being with a brain and feel badly that I ended up not buying it from him. I must say, Howard is the way to go. You end up avoiding the criminally insane, sexist bastard men, token women which are useless if they do not know the product and the sales pitches.
H.M. Brown & Associates, Inc.
6532 South Revere Parkway
Centennial, CO 80111
I happen one Sunday to look on craigslist.com as a giggle. Low and behold, less than 1 mile from my house is a new but used Chevy cargo van! I call immediately, hop in the car, drive about 6 blocks, test drive it and ask if they can hold it until my mechanic can look at it. In-between fighting just to be able to test drive and get info on cargo vans, I had brought three other used ones for him to look at. He declined all of them and was skeptical when I called Monday morning. He looked at it and said grab it! SOLD!
March 13th, Wednesday 2008:
So after 6 weeks, 3 days a week of hell from car dealers, six blocks from my house I have a new used van.
March 3th, Monday 2008:
Drive up to Fort Collins since they are one of two places left in the Metro area that puts high-tops on vans. We will not even get into the jackass at Vanture since my blood pressure will go up, again. Even Howard at HM Brown had issues with him. So Mr. Van is getting his top on which will be ready in about two weeks.
March 17, Monday 2008:
Mr. Van now has returned from vacation in Fort Collins with topper and tinted windows.
March 20, Thursday 2008:
Ordered all parts minus tub which seems to be an issue in locating. Parts should arrive within 7-10 days. What that probably means in business time is 14-21 days.
May 19, Monday 2008:
Well, it would appear by the lack of entries on this project that nothing has been accomplished. Alas, that is incorrect. What has been happening for the past two months is fighting the excessively testosterone ridden men.
I have a check dated March 13th, 2008, which I finally picked up. Why? I ordered the water tanks and bathtub on March 13th. Yep, they will be here by the end of the week. Okay. I call the end of the week to pick them up, have not arrived but they will call to find out what the hold up is. March 20th, 2008. No tanks, why? Don’t know says Mr. Head of Parts/Sales. Will check to find out. March 23rd, 2008, no tanks but will arrive next week. March 27th, 2008 no water tanks nor tub. Don’t know what the hold up is Mimi, you can call them! Nope, your job, you have the check you deal with it whilst I deal with the seven thousand other van issues, keep the old van running, work, deal with two old dying dogs, do 27 loads of dog towels a week and possibly do something like sleep in-between not getting any personal errands accomplished. April 3rd, 2008. No bathtub, no water tanks, nor Mr. Head of Parts/Sales, in hospital for next 12 days. No one knows anything about tanks or bathtub. I’m thinking we are on a roll now! April 9th, 2008 I finally lasso the man who oversees the entire department.
He knows nothing about an order and called the two places and they know nothing about the order nor can the man who took the order back in March tell anyone where the paperwork for the order is. Back to square one. The head of this department is naturally apologetic and will handle things immediately. That he did, he got me the correct water tanks, and ordered the bathtub to which I thought was to my specifications. Well, call me silly, but wrong again.
Yes, we have the tanks, yes we have the bathtub but he ordered a right hand drain instead of a left hand drain. After almost three months with the nightmare from hell of a bathtub I said look, we need to drill another drain in the CENTER FRONT of the tub so just add another one CENTER LEFT.
Here is what is fascinating to me. I show up 5 days later after it has arrived, repeating since March to three people where I need the drains. I arrive to find one drain on the far right (wrong) and a drain 6 inches from the left (wrong), no center drain (wrong). Oh, Mimi, what is the big deal, get over it. I explain the reasons why I need the drains where I have requested them fitted with no debate. I come back three days later now there are three drains smack in the middle of the tub. I now come unglued, so angry I cannot speak, leave the place and leave a message on Mr. Boss Man’s voice mail. I explained again, that unless I physically come down with crayons it would appear that requesting two drains in the correct position is not possible. If I need to come down with crayons I will do so but let us try to follow directions.
May 19th, 2008:
I arrive today only to find that now there are four holes, three across the center and one half way towards the center front. I march into Mr. Boss Man’s office and explain the following. When I present to my clients 5 year old kids a rectangle and ask them to draw a circle in the FRONT CENTER and LEFT SIDE, 4 out of 4 five-year-old children can draw a circle in the exact spot I have asked. Yet three grown adults cannot even begin to figure it out with an approximate combined age 140 over a combined age of 20 years. Not to mention that for every hole/drain drilled into the tub it weakens the structural stability of the bathtub. Get me a new tub, done correctly by Monday. I am tried of explaining why, I am tired of paying for what I did not want, I will not accept a Swiss Cheese bathtub and certainly not fighting over this God Damn Tub EVER Again, and walk out. New tub will be here next week.
Next we have the fill tank. Now there are some things that I will not do either based on potential screw up, like cutting a hole on the side of the van then saying Oops! Or running propane lines which for legal and insurance reasons need to be done professionally as well as the electrical for lights. I have no problem with that. However, what I do have a problem with is obviously not bringing crayons or chalk and a blackboard. When I say I need the fill line HERE, why is it that when I arrive it is up 5 feet from the ground?
Once again I haul Mr. Macho Man and say, so tell me Einstein, when it is hot outside or below zero for that matter, how do you expect the hose to fill with a bend of 90 degrees? It will be frozen in below zero so it cannot bend and in the summer it is so hot it will collapse on itself. Did I not mention three times it needs to go HERE (as I pointed)? Uh, uh, well… Well What Einstein! Got a plan? Or are you going to continue to argue with me every step of the way, not listen to what I have asked you do to but do it your way since you know better. Knowing better mind you having never in your entire career done anything like this before? Or do we listen to the “little woman” who knows what they hell they are doing and talking about and do it correctly this time?
This entire experience is a very sad commentary on how women are still treated. Not that I was not pissed off over 20 years ago. At that point I had one male run business say to me, shouldn’t you be home eating Bon Bon’s and watching soap operas honey? All these years later the “men” still refuse to listen, always know better than the “woman”, even when caught red-handed in their mistake it is always someone else’s fault. And NEVER will you hear sorry, you know, you were right all along. And this is a perfect example of every male run business and also explains why I have never remarried nor ever will. Almost every man I have ever met has been the same way. Bless those that are not and if you have one of them ladies, count your lucky stars!
So where exactly are we in Mr. Van build. All that is left is of course the new bathtub, sans the Swiss cheese look, lighting and lined ceiling panels. Presently there are walls, (almost done except the seam finish work where the van roof was cut off and the extension put on). Running water, heat, AC installed. What is left is the wrap, they say only two days, we’ll see? Lighting and flooring and the testing which will be done on some unfortunate client’s dogs so I can make certain everything functions as it should on the road and see how much of a learning curve I will have.
What can wait for now is the storage areas to be built later and a few other things that can also be finished later. The object is to get this thing on the road and working ASAPeeper.
May 28th, 2008 Obviously the Universe thought I needed a break from the new van consequently they sent me something to get my mind off of it today with the old one. As I am going to my appointment at 13th and Havana I hear that oh so familiar squeeling sound. I start laughing so hard I had to pull off to a side street since tears were coming out my eyes. I call my mechanic and he is all excited thinking I am stopping by so he can see the new van. Alas, I say, Eddy, can you get brakes on the old boy today or tomorrow? He cannot believe what he is hearing. I drive to the shop, walk in laughing out of control again, he just shakes his head and says I cannot believe you are laughing? I said there is something really funny in a sick sort of way that the new van will be ready in less than two weeks and I have to spend yet more money on this one. I pick it up later and he said, I don’t care what happens next, we hate this van and never want to see it again!
What I have always found interesting is vehicle design. Most women would approach this with logic so if I was designing a vehicle here is what I would do. Before your engine froze from not checking the oil every fuel fill-up, I would design a red light since heavens knows there are enough that light up for other useless things, that when you were 1 or 2 quarts low on oil, the light would go off or a little bell or buzzer would sound. Brakes, so the pads are getting to about 1/3 of pad left. Most vehicles go from brakes work to all of a sudden, no squeak or squawk just that lovely grinding into the rotor. Unless you get your vehicle towed by the time you get to your mechanic you have ground them down to the calipers and now you need a $350-$450 brake job. With all the new and innovative technology you would think they could design something helpful?
May 29th, 2008 After spending money on the brake debacle yesterday, the Universe once again decided I needed more dark humor. I was pulled over for not wearing a seat belt. Ever since I was almost burned alive in a car because of a jammed seat belt, I will not wear one. Hear that all coppers? It has been a recurring fear for decades now. Granted this policeman was nice to give me a warning, odd enough in and of itself seeing that it is the end of the month and they have to make the quota’s. I explain why I will not wear one, he explains he can arrest me. I’m thinking I have to get my old sick dying son to the vet, nothing will prevent me other than my death in doing that. I put the seat belt on knowing exactly what will happen.
Get to my next appointment call my client from the van and say before you bring out Brandy, would you please come out here first, I need your help. Of course, the seat belt is stuck, nothing is going to get the sucker released and I am now trapped. Seat belts to me are like marriage, you are trapped, stuck, confined and imprisoned and the flashback of burning car is all happening at once. She comes out and I tell her to reach into the first drawer and grab any scissors she can find. Naturally, my arm is 1.5 feet too short for me to do it myself. We now have to cut me out of the seat belt before I can even begin to get started grooming the dog.
The only good news between my poor old dogs, van and everything else is that I have lost from nerves and stress 28 pounds in two and a half months!
The Month of June provided many interesting issues. The correct tub finally arrived but could not be installed since the company neglected to send the surround backsplash. Waiting for that arrival was an additional two weeks through no fault of anyone involved in installing said bathtub from hell. Once all the walls were installed and due to the fact that all new vans are 3.5 feet shorter and 1.2 feet more narrow, now there is no room for storage. I just ignored that situation until the wrap was completed and I had it home.
July The first part of July was spent waiting for the place doing the wrap to actually get it done. On Friday, July 25th they called to said it was ready. I look at the wrap and say, so professionals, did it dawn on you to axe the computer and just use common sense when placing this stuff on? Nope, so now we have major parts of the well known images on the van covered by RV parts.
All in all I now have a new van which I hate and would do just about anything to continue working in my Old Faithful. However, as my mechanic said, you are stuck with it until it is paid off, which could be after you are dead, so you better start to like it. I have no idea how the AC works, something about not being able to turn on the lights and the AC at the same time until the generator arrives?? I have no idea how to light the new water heater that I bought, don’t know a thing about the new heater which could fry eggs so at least we know there is no danger of chilly paws in the winter, the lights and wipers are on the same knobby thing which is not only stupid but confusing, don’t konw where a thing is under the hood so I would not even begin to guess where the filters are to change them, it drives completely differently and like crap so that is a learning curve in and of itself, and who the hell puts a gas tank in the center of a vehicle! Guess it will just be a slow learning curve so when I am late the first few months, please do not call and tell me I am late since I will be extremely aware of that fact as I am swearing. Oh, since the bastard is so small, the electric grooming table will not fit but thank heavens they let me send it back.
Naturally, now that there is a new colour van, the website no longer matches with the old van so I will need to redo the entire website. Not on my high list of “must do’s” presently.
Link below will tell you how the process is achieved, pictures of progress and why it takes so long. People think these grooming vans are born like this. Nope, lots of work as the next page will describe.
Read about the New Van Process