Never give your number first

Have you ever disliked something because the only things you ever heard about it were negative?

For me, it’s going to car dealerships. Even before I ever personally dealt with car salesmen, based on the tsunami of negative experiences I had heard, I developed a second-hand distrust for anyone wearing a suit trying to tell me about an automobile.

But this time, I loved it. Why? You’ll see!

As I mentioned in my last post, I had a one-way ticket from L.A. to D.C. for December 22, 2015. I had been packing for about a month and planned to sell my car sometime in December so I wouldn’t need a rental car for too long.

Particularly sunny for December, downtown LA was crowded with cars and I was caught in the steady flow. Except I had no idea where I was going. The Australian man (aka Siri) told me to turn left in 200 feet. If I listened to him, I would’ve ended up crashing a baptism in the church that Siri apparently mistook for a left turn opportunity. Silly Siri…get it together!

I drove toward the highlighted re-route, cruising in the right hand lane, when again from down under – “turn left in 200 feet.” This time I saw a street that was left-turnable so I put on my blinker, ready to shimmy over. Problem was, the tape on my side mirror (I had smashed off my mirror from pulling out of my narrow garage) reflected the sun and made it impossible to see whether anything was coming up from behind me.

Looked over my shoulder, started veering, and CRUNCH! Instinctively, I jerked the steering wheel back to the right as my heart jerked in my chest.

I’m supposed to sell my car next week. I leave in less than 3 weeks. Why did this have to happen now?! The timing couldn’t have been worse. What am I going to do??

Seeing the car that I just hit pull in front of me, I followed him to a safe spot on the side of the road to stop and get out. Exiting my car, I apologized profusely, taking full responsibility for what happened.

But I was so kindly greeted with…

“LEARN HOW TO DRIVE, THIS IS ALL YOUR FAULT, YOU SHOULDN’T BE ALLOWED ON THE ROAD, HOW THE HELL DID YOU GET A LICENSE, YOU WEREN’T PAYING ANY ATTENTION, THIS IS ALL YOUR FAULT!!” – angry witness not even involved in the crash, but decided I needed to hear that my first accident ever was a direct reflection of my driving abilities as a whole. 

The man involved was actually very nice. We exchanged info (pictures of ID, insurance cards, phone numbers, and pics of the damages)…

Luckily, it was just cosmetic. But a bruise still hurts…

and went off on our merry ways.

I continued on my journey to get to lunch at Wurstkuche with a friend. The downtown location is SO tricky to get to, especially if you’re unfamiliar with the downtown area…AKA me.

Alright cool. So now, I have 3 weeks to get rid of this thing. No one buys the dented cans of corn at the grocery store. Who’s going to want this?

It was so tough to be present during lunch because all I could think about was how I had just crashed my car…and could quite possibly have to shell out a couple grand to get rid of it.

Boring standard protocol: took it into a local collision center, got an estimate, submitted it to my insurance company, said they’d fix it for a $500 deductible.

Not-so-boring stressful uncertainty: This happened on a Friday. I had to bring it in on Monday (thankfully the estimate got approved by the insurance company). 5 days to fix it. I leave in 7. OH. MY. GAWD.

I called both the collision center and my insurance company every day that week to make sure there wasn’t anything they needed from me, made sure all the parts were ordered, made sure everything was going according to plan, etc. etc.

If you live near Culver City, and you ever get in an accident, ICC Collision Center will SAVE YOU. They pulled through for me and I was able to pick up my car on December 21, Monday evening. Talk about clock-work scheduling.

December 22. Date of departure. Flight check-in at 9pm. Apartment still not fully emptied. Bags still not fully packed. 

3pm. I go to Carmax (service was mediocre at best). I wait in the lobby for 30 minutes, my stomach playing skip-it and my head filling with helium.

3:30pm. Lady comes back and says they’ll give me $9,500 for it. Ehhh, it’s a good reference point but I walk out, wanting to see if I could get more from a dealership.

4pm. Go grab In-n-out with my brother as our last meal in LA.

5:30pm. Go to a dealership. Now, here’s where it gets fun.

Man in a suit and smooth voice comes up to me, “Hi ma’am, how can I help you?”

“I’d like to sell my car.” – Me

“Okay, let’s take a look. What are you looking to get?” – Smooth talker

“I’d like $12K” – Me
(Definitely wasn’t expecting that…I just wanted more than what Carmax was offering. I still owed $9,600 on the car so I was willing to take anything that would allow me to not dish out more cash)

“What’s the lowest you’ll go?” – Smooth talker

“11” – Me

“Did you go to Carmax?” – Smooth talker

“Yes” – Me

“What was their offer?” – Smooth talker

“I’d like to hear your offer first” – Me

“We’ll find out anyways, just show me the paper” – Smooth talker

“Nah, I’d really love to hear your number first” – Me

“It’s gonna be about the same” – Smooth talker

“Okay then, what’s the number?” – Me

[examines car, goes into secret back room to talk to manager, comes back]

6:30pm. (freaking out inside because I only have a couple hours, but calm on the outside because that’s how I do.)  

“I can give you $9,500.” – Smooth talker
(Hm. Same as Carmax…)

“No thanks, that’s way less than $11K” – Me

“But that’s how much it’s worth” – Smooth talker

“Then I’ll go somewhere else. Although, I’d really prefer not to, just because I’m already here and if you can give me a good deal, I’ll happily leave my car here and walk away” – Me

“Would you take $9,750?” – Smooth talker
(Yes! More than Carmax, enough to cover the rest of my payments!)

“How about 10? Can you meet me half way?” – Me
(Doesn’t hurt to ask, right?)

[Goes back into the secret back room to talk to the manager.
Meanwhile, I’m sitting at the edge of my chair, checking my phone every 2 minutes to watch the time, legs intertwined from nerves, rocking back and forth because I wanted it to be over.]

7:00pm. “Alright, $9,750 is our final offer. That’s the absolute best I can do.” – Smooth talker

“It’s yours! Let’s get it done!” – Me

7:30pm. Shake hands and grab a lyft home.

I was so proud of myself for not giving in to his persistence on knowing where I stood based on my Carmax quote. I used to be apologetic and would not question what “experts” would say. But for the past few years especially, I’ve been more confident in standing my ground when it comes to matters like this.

I felt like I won a game that’s so easy to lose. My negotiation abilities were definitely put to the test, but it was an important exercise. Never give your number first. 

Someone up there was definitely watching over me because everything worked out so precisely. Despite the unexpected mishaps that threw off my schedule for selling my car, I still:

  • Avoided getting a long-term rental, saving me $750+
  • Made it to lunch with my friend (Girl, if you’re reading this, thank you so much for checking in on me and for your support during this whole process)
  • Got my car in and out of the collision shop JUST in time, probably because I called both sides every day and created a sense of urgency
  • Got a quote from Carmax to compare my car’s value
  • Got to take my car to a dealership to try to get more
  • Had the financed balance for my car paid off
  • AND got a check in the mail for the little extra I negotiated for 🙂
  • Made it on the plane in time!

Another huge thank you to my brother for helping me and supporting me during all of this ❤




6 thoughts on “Never give your number first

  1. Hi Melissa!

    What a great read! I am playing a little bit of “numbers” game in my life as well and can’t help but to think I was meant to find and read this article on LinkedIn! Thanks for sharing your experience. And I am wishing you the best of luck following your heart around the world 🙂



    1. Thank you so much for your critical feedback 🙂 I made your comments private per your request (keep in mind direct email replies to my posts post as comments) and I appreciate that you took time to make the suggestions you did and show genuine concern for making my writing better! Updated several parts above, and hope to see you here again soon!


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