When I moved to Switzerland, I had to sell a car I loved – my Volvo S40. I intended to drive it forever, but my move abroad cut our relationship short. We only had 5.5 years together. I missed it long after purchasing the Peugeot in Vevey (or what I affectionately called “the clown car”). I was at a loss for what kind of vehicle I would buy when I moved back to the US, because Volvo no longer makes the S40. I wondered if it was time to switch it up entirely and to think about a small SUV. When I visited in January, I test drove some vehicles. I wasn’t loving any of them until I went into Honda to look at the CRV. That’s when I saw it – a brand new model called an HRV. I test drove it and knew immediately that it was the one.
Back in Vevey, I needed to sell the clown car, which proved to be a little more challenging than expected. I listed it on our company’s internal website, but there were no takers. Simultaneously, I posted it on a couple of facebook groups for expats looking to sell things. (For the record, I only learned about these groups in my final month in Vevey. How did I miss them for my first two years?!) I immediately had some interested buyers, but the offers were pretty low. I waited a couple of weeks, reduced the price, and still received no solid offers.
About two weeks before my departure, I went back to one of the original facebook offers to see if she was still looking for a car. I spoke with her husband who informed me that they were diplomats in Geneva, and I needed to bring the car to them. He said he didn’t need to go to the Service des Automobiles with me, because he already had the diplomatic plates and papers. I tried to ignore his snootiness and agreed to find a way to get the vehicle to them. We agreed on a price and said we would be in touch in the coming week to discuss the handover. The next day, the woman sent me a facebook message offering me 1,000 CHF LESS than what we agreed on the previous day. This made me very angry, since I told two others that the car was sold. I refused the lower offer, and the diplomats backed out.
Great. Roughly nine days left to sell the car before I have to turn it in to a garage for practically nothing.
I had one more prospect. A woman had contacted me after I confirmed the deal with the diplomats asking if the car was still available. I reached out to her after the deal fell through, and she called me almost immediately. I won’t go into the back and forth of the conversations I had with this woman over the next week, but they had very little to do with buying my car. I think she viewed me as her therapist. (I wish I was joking.) Some things I learned about her during our chats:
- She doesn’t wake up before 8:30am.
- She doesn’t do paperwork.
- She doesn’t clean.
- Dextrose is a different name for corn syrup. The Swiss think they don’t eat corn syrup. Little do they know it’s listed as dextrose on their labels.
- She doesn’t think Nestle is a very good company.
- She doesn’t like Peugeots (the brand of the car I’m selling).
- She has bank accounts all over the world.
- She doesn’t put snow tires on her car, because she drives carefully.
- Her car is titled & insured in France.
- I could go on and on…
The positive of this whole situation is that she was able / willing to pay me directly into my US bank account in US Dollars, which saved me from having to move the money from Switzerland. Of course, she waited until the day we were supposed to do the exchange to initiate the wire transfer (which can take 1-5 days…I was definitely panicking). This meant we had to postpone the hand off. We agreed to meet the following day around 11:00am to go to the Service des Automobiles to change over the title and the license plates.
Knowing she doesn’t wake up early, I waited until 9:45-10:00am before reaching out to see if she wanted me to pick her up or if she wanted to meet me at the motor vehicle office. I kid you not when I tell you that she told me she couldn’t be ready at 11:00am, because she was up crying all night. WHAT?!?!?!?! I had already cancelled plans and rearranged my day to accommodate her schedule, and now she was telling me she couldn’t meet. We settled on me picking up her ex-husband who went in her place. So, after all of those phone calls and a ridiculous text message conversation, I never got to meet this woman.
After that, my hope was that the US car purchase would be easy and drama-free. I have a relocation agency here who is helping with a variety of items related to my re-entry. They contacted a dealer who gave me a great price. The dealer ordered the color I wanted, and yesterday, I went to pick it up. Isn’t it cute?!
I’m probably the only person on earth who doesn’t like “new car smell” so if you like it, you need to come for a ride with me and breathe it all in, so that it goes away quickly! As an aside, the technology in cars has changed dramatically since I bought my Volvo eight years ago. I might need to hire a co-pilot to press all the buttons while I’m driving! The salesman kept showing me all the things it could do, and I kept thinking, “Aren’t I supposed to be driving the car? How can I possibly do all of these other things at the same time?!” I guess it’s time to re-learn how to multi-task.