Open thread on President’s Day

by Grace aka costofcollege

Today we have an open thread.  Any and all topics are welcome.

Would you be tempted to participate in a reality show in return for $40,000 in home renovations?

HGTV’s Property Brothers are returning to my area, and this caught my eye.

What’s the budget you need to have to be considered?

‘Buying & Selling’ is the best deal you’re going to get from any television show. It’s unreal; the homeowners contribute from $10-$15,000 and they’re getting a $50-$60,000 renovation. For one house, we just redid the entire exterior siding, which was lemon yellow, before we even filmed. It’s huge benefit to have this quality of renovation and to have this incredible team come in to renovate your house.

 

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156 thoughts on “Open thread on President’s Day

  1. I like Drew and Jonathan, but I don’t usually like the edit that the homeowners get! They always need someone to be the unreasonable, whiny bad guy. I’m betting I’d be the favored candidate.

  2. I don’t need the Property Brothers — I need Ask This Old House, because my house is too damn cold, even with insulation and new windows. It has to be leakage around the joist areas (very cold floors in the older/not-redone front of the house) but I can’t figure out how to get in there, and I can’t imagine tossing perfectly good siding just to add housewrap. Plus we have an airlock-style entry, and there doesn’t seem to be a way to properly seal the exterior door, which means it lets in a lot of cold that seeps through to the bedrooms upstairs. Please, send Norm and Tommy . . . .

  3. LfB, that Vox link reminds me of a very old episode of In Living Color where one character says of someone (I forget who) “He’s the source that revealed that Mariah Carey is supposed to be black.”

  4. LfB – I hear you. Showing the house lately has really made us realize how uneven the heat is (esp yesterday when it was 5 degrees out and we had to make the house 69/70!) Particularly around the few old windows that are left, but also in the one bedroom that doesn’t have as much insulation in the roof, near all the doors, etc. I don’t think there’s a good way to fix it other than tearing the whole house apart again, which we are obviously not going to do. ;)

  5. Since we have been (again) shopping in California for a house (we gave up on the other one when the inspection report revealed too much disastrous crap), we decided to have our own house inspected, just for amusement’s sake. DH is following the guy around anxiously. So far, nothing too terrible.

  6. ” I don’t think there’s a good way to fix it other than tearing the whole house apart again, which we are obviously not going to do. ;)”

    Our recent VRBO was built in 1899 and was like this. The furnace blew very hot air, but it was still cold near the walls, cold in bedrooms (the owners provided electric space heaters), and then of course roasting in the central hallways.

    Who the Hell wants to live like that? I’d tear the whole place apart, put real, modern insulation everywhere, and new gas-filled double-pane windows. Warmth is a basic tenet of shelter. Don’t talk to me about charming old floors and woodwork if you can’t even keep the place warm throughout.

  7. “I’d tear the whole place apart, put real, modern insulation everywhere, and new gas-filled double-pane windows.”

    The dirty little secret of old houses? We already *did* all of that, and replaced the furnace with a modern, efficient, two-zone system. And it STILL cannot handle it when the temps drop below about 20 — it was built as a summer house, with high ceilings and tons of windows. I am currently sitting in my recliner, with a sweater and a sweatshirt, a blanket over my legs, and a space heater directed under my blanket. And our heating bill doubled last month to boot.

    I want a new effing house. Or a nice condo that only has one wall exposed to the elements, and someone else paying for heat on the other 5 sides.

  8. “it was built as a summer house, with high ceilings and tons of windows.”

    Walk through any modern new-construction model house over 4,000 sf and you’ll see high ceilings and tons of windows. So there’s got to be something that they missed in your renovation–the floors, like you said. Can’t they get into the basement or crawl space and inject a bunch of foam insulation up there? Do you need new windows?

  9. I thought you liked your house, LfB. Or is it just that today you’re freezing so you’re just Not That Into It?

  10. I guess I should count myself as lucky (1) even I realized a long time ago Beyoncé is black…thanks LfB!** and (2) despite how crappy our double hung windows are, the house stayed nice and warm and fairly balanced (given that we should have a two-zone heating system vs. the one-zone we have) over the 0 degree weekend that just happened. I just can’t wrap my head around spending the ~$15k it’ll take to update the 16 windows.

    ** and I can’t believe how much the “Red Lobster” line is/was getting talked about (two separate days on Marketplace) or how it’s increasing sales for them.

  11. on topic, I would definitely pay $15k for someone to do $60k worth of work. The only way I’d be reluctant is if it were Yard Crashers. All they ever do is make an outdoor, concrete living room and kitchen that is totally exposed to the sun, rain, and tree droppings (if applicable). Then they put a bunch of colorful cushions and pillows that won’t last a month.

    I’ll pass. I’m cranky today.

  12. I’ve never seen Property Brothers but I’d probably be willing to participate- not sure if Mr WCE would. We lack drama so I doubt we’d be selected. (Watch Mr. and Mrs. WCE create an Excel spreadsheet to determine the price point of their new furnace vs. heat pump, accounting for tax credits. Watch Mr. and Mrs. WCE match the dirt in their yard to their carpets.) The most interesting part would be our efforts to corral our children at the flooring store.

  13. Looking for a little advice from the group. To try to make a long story not so long. Our kids are in 8th and 7th grade of a K-8 charter school, they’ve been there since K. We got a new principal last year, the previous principal was promoted – they opened a second school and he is overseeing both of them. Last year, the new principal didn’t change anything, I think she was in observation mode. This year she’s made a bunch of changes and the school is going to crap.

    The big issue is the complete lack of discipline in the middle school (6-8) now. She got rid of detentions and started “positive reinforcement”, so if a student reports someone else misbehaving, they get praised, but the misbehaving student just gets “talked to” by the assistant principal. So now kids are swearing in front of (and at) teachers, kids are chewing gum in class, using their phones in class, etc.

    There has also been abysmal communication with parents. There was nothing about the new (lack of) discipline policy. When the gym teacher was fired and escorted out by security in september, it took three days to get any official word about it. And so on.

    And then there is the Spanish fiasco. As I’ve mentioned, one of the regular spanish teachers has been out since October. They started out with subs who didn’t speak Spanish. They they hired a long-term sub in December, who does speak Spanish, but has been totally incompetent. According to the kids, she has zero control of the class – kids just get up and leave in the middle of class, they talk back to her, don’t listen, throw things, etc. According to the kids, Friday was her last day and they are getting a new sub this week, but again, nothing has been communicated to parents at all. I email the principal and asst principal twice during this time and received totally nonsubstantive replies.

    We’ve talked to other parents who are as dissatisfied as we are about how things have gone this year. Since it’s a charter school, it has its own board and operates outside of DPS. I’m friendly with the board president and have known him for years, but we don’t have regular contact. His kids graduated last year so I don’t know if he knows what’s going on. I’ve written an email to him expressing our concerns but I haven’t pulled the trigger on sending it. We don’t want to be “those parents”, but I think we already might be because we’ve asked for individual teacher conferences on top of the student ones, and the replies we received weren’t very enthusiastic about it. We only have a year and a half left so I don’t think it matters at this point.

    Anyway, should I send the email? It is (IMO) very thoughtfully written and provides specific examples, it’s not a half-cocked rant :).

  14. @Rocky: the second one. I have been working at home a lot lately due to snow days and out-of-school holidays, and it is much more noticeable. And I am having a cranky day for no apparent reason.

    @Milo: I really think it’s all about the systems. We have tackled things piece by piece, thinking the next piece will get it (which is also why we have lovely new windows, because the insulation didn’t fix things — and I personally manned the spray can so we could seal up all possible leaks when the windows were installed). But when you build from the ground up, you can manage the climate issues as an entire system, because you can tuck insulation inside the sill, add house wrap, caulk, add that ice dam prevention sticky stuff, etc. You just can’t retrofit as effectively.

    @Rhett: we did have the energy audit. The very short version is that it took many months and much nagging to get the report, which had major errors in it (e.g., no insulation), and they proposed tens of thousands of $$ to fix problems that didn’t exist; when I pointed out the errors and asked for a revised quote, they never even bothered to get back to me — and this from someone on the BGE recommendation list! So we confirmed that, yes, we have big leaks around the joist areas, but I have yet to find someone competent to fix that, and it’s difficult access (stone foundation, hidden behind paneling and dropped ceiling and up within the joist space, no exterior access because it’s where the front porch joins the building), so we just haven’t figured out how to tackle it ourselves.

    Not sure I’d pay $15K to Jonathan and Drew, but I’d happily pay that for Norm and Tommy.

  15. DD, sounds like you need to “be that parent.” I would make an appointment with the board president, convert your unsent email into a bullet points outline, make a few copies, and go in and discuss it in person. Emails are really easy to 1) ignore or 2) forward around with a “can you believe this guy” unhelpful remark.

  16. HFN, I like your advice to DD. My big question would be, what is the downside? What are the chances your children would be negatively affected?

  17. @DD: Tell your contact. If he is invested in the success of the school, he will want to know — charter schools rely on being able to attract families, and it sounds like they need to make some serious changes or the school’s ultimately going to fail anyway. So you’re doing a good deed if you tell him, and if you get blown off, there’s not much blowback for you, since you’re practically out of there anyway.

  18. Denver, we have positive discipline too – such fun!

    It might help your thinking process to decide what you want to achieve with your email.

    From your description, it sounds like the principal addressed the Spanish and gym teachers, but did not do a good job communicating about it.

    Do you want the board president to talk to the principal about the lack of communication with parents? Do you want him to start thinking about changing principals? Or do you just want him to know what is going on?

    Either way, I would send an email asking him to call you and then tell him what is going on. Two advantages: it can’t be forwarded verbatim to the principal with your name attached (she still has a year and a half in charge of your second child, after all, and a *lot* of complaint emails get forwarded), and you can tailor what you are saying to what the board president responds.

  19. OT, we tried to test drive a Honda Pilot this morning and could not (at a high volume dealer).

    If we want to test drive, we have to put down a $500 deposit and order the car, and when it gets here in two months we can test drive it. If we don’t like it, we get our $500 back and they will sell the car within the week. They can’t keep them on the lot.

    Since the cargo space with the third row up was way too small, we will get something else. Might work if we had only two kids and were only going to use the third row occasionally.

  20. Sky, the Honda Odyssey model we wanted was similarly popular in the Pacific NW when we were shopping. Costco pricing seemed like our best option. You might think about the benefits of a split third seat, so you can fold down part of it. We didn’t need to do that on our CA trip, but it’s a nice option, especially with 3 kids.

  21. Sky,

    What about an all wheel drive Sienna? Toyota is loading on the incentives and would be happy to have your business.

  22. DD – I think you should chat with the board member before sending out the email. I think when people get a personal phone call these days, they are apt to pay more attention to the problem.
    There is still the question of the year and a half. I would be very concerned if my kids were in an environment with poor discipline, respect and learning. A principal can make a big difference.

  23. We applied to be on Kitchen Crashers when it was filming in the area, but didn’t make it. A lot of the shows don’t so condos because of restrictions & space limitations for the crew.

    @DD – I like the advice from HFN. In person would be better. But the board should want to know.

  24. Do you want the board president to talk to the principal about the lack of communication with parents? Do you want him to start thinking about changing principals? Or do you just want him to know what is going on?

    Ideally I would like to get a new principal for next year. Realistically, I think has pretty much zero chance of happening. I would like him to be aware that the school is heading downward very quickly he and the board can step in and try to address it.

    Either way, I would send an email asking him to call you and then tell him what is going on. Two advantages: it can’t be forwarded verbatim to the principal with your name attached (she still has a year and a half in charge of your second child, after all, and a *lot* of complaint emails get forwarded), and you can tailor what you are saying to what the board president responds.

    Yes, I was thinking about this as well. A phone conversation might be a better way to start.

  25. I agree with everyone who said DD should either call or meet the board member in person vs. sending an e-mail. The less of a paper trail the better.

  26. If we want to test drive, we have to put down a $500 deposit and order the car, and when it gets here in two months we can test drive it. If we don’t like it, we get our $500 back and they will sell the car within the week. They can’t keep them on the lot.

    So what do they need the deposit for?

  27. BTW, from what I understand most of these school emails are FOIAble except for parts that deal with human resources or individual students.

  28. DD,

    Also like the advice to meet in person with bullet points instead of sending the email. If this guy is a busy professional, he probably won’t give a long email (even if thoughtfully composed) the same time and attention he would give you in person. And unless there would be some serious downsides to having this conversation, you owe it your kids to be their advocate. Middle school is enough of a challenge. And 18 months is an eternity to a young teenager. Sounds like whatever the result of your contact, it can’t be much worse than the status quo.

    If there is another calm and reasonable parent with similar concerns, you might consider inviting him or her to be part of that conversation. It’s too easy to dismiss a single voice as an outlier.

  29. To weed out the lookie lous.

    And the serious buyers who don’t want to tie up $500 for two months.

  30. I’m slightly obsessed with Property Brorhers and Buying and Selling since they came to town. I wasn’t a huge fan before, but I really like the local episodes. Some of my local Facebook groups will comment on certain properties if they know, or recognize certain stores.

    I would do it, but we would never qualify now since the kitchen and bathrooms are recently renovated. I doubt DH would feel comfortable with the transparency of our lives on TV.

    A friend from HS had a viewing party for an episode with his SIL and BIL. It was in Conn. They said it was a pleasure to work with them and you really get your money’s worth.

    My brother’s family was on another HGTV show a few years ago. His contractor was picked and then he selected the client for renovation. Their home looks 1000% better due to the ideas from the designer. I think my brother had to invest $5000 since it was a couple of rooms. The labor from the contractors and designers was free.

  31. My kid is probably also contributing to the mayhem, but from what I hear even with strict teachers and principal – it is a constant battle to keep things in check in MS. The place sounds like an asylum.

  32. DH says he will never, ever, ever buy a minivan.

    One of the reasons I think we should lease is that I think another three years might change his mind….

    No Toyota, the dealers around here are owned by the conglomerate we don’t like based on our Lexus experience.

  33. Denver, my mom complained to the principal about my 8th grade civics teacher (we were watching Oprah in class instead of following a curriculum) and he went out of his way to make the rest of the year hell.

    The email creates a paper trail, and a very identifiable one. I agree with Scarlett that if you can it us a good idea to get a few other parents in on a meeting.

    Otherwise what may happen is that the board president may turn around and say “I’ve heard from a parent with a 7th and 8th grader” and the angry principal will connect the dots back to you. It is even worse if he sends along your email without removing your name.

  34. My kid is probably also contributing to the mayhem, but from what I hear even with strict teachers and principal – it is a constant battle to keep things in check in MS. The place sounds like an asylum.

    Absolutely it’s tough, but when the kids know the worst that will happen to them is they’ll get talked to, of course they aren’t going to listen to anyone.

  35. One of the reasons I think we should lease is that I think another three years might change his mind….

    Wasn’t there just a discussion about how much flexibility you have even if you buy a vehicle? :)

  36. The email creates a paper trail, and a very identifiable one. I agree with Scarlett that if you can it us a good idea to get a few other parents in on a meeting.

    I just emailed him asking him to call me. As I said, I’ve known him for years so I think he’ll take my concerns seriously without me needing to get a group of parents together.

  37. Here is my take on the school email situation. I would meet with the principal and get his or her side of the points in the email. I would then take out any complaints that I thought were unjustified. Depending on how that conversation went I would email then talk to the board member. I would also be shopping for a new school for next year for your younger child.The chances of the problems being identified and fixed by this principal or a new one in a year are small.

    Regarding heating and houses, who invented 9 and 10 feet ceiling and open dining rooms and three story entry ways? Are all playing badminton indoors?

  38. WCE, he who pays the piper calls the tune :)

    They wouldn’t do the advertised lease deal on the Buick so I am looking at used ones as well as new ones. The depreciation is about $450/month on the AWD mid-range model, so from what I can tell we will be paying that whether we lease it, buy it new, or buy it slightly used (2014 or 2015 with under 40k miles).

  39. DD, this may be a case where you have an advantage as a Dad. Dads are known (stereotyped?) for only worrying about the big stuff, so it may be easier for you to be heard. We’re only in elementary school, and I think elementary school teachers are also more apt to listen to Dads for some reason. Mr WCE volunteered for a school directional committee partly for this reason. (They didn’t end up needing another parent, but he’s probably on the short list when they do. We have another decade at this elementary school.)

  40. “who invented 9 and 10 feet ceiling and open dining rooms and three story entry ways?”

    And don’t forget 8′ high windows. In our neck of the woods, it was people who were trying to stay cool in the depths of August, before folks discovered the joys of freon. :-)

  41. Sky, I didn’t mean legally, I meant practically. Mr. WCE would not have chosen a Buick Century and I would not have chosen a Chevy Silverado extended cab truck, but since we mostly drove our own vehicles, we could have different preferences. Our finances are completely shared.

  42. I agree with the advice to DD. I know MS is tough, but I don’t think it should be a place without discipline.
    It is really important for the kids to know that kind of behavior isn’t tolerated. I don’t like that several teachers tend to yell, but the school would never allow some of the behavior that some of you are describing.

    As for the car, I know my DH would feel the same way about a mini van. The problem is that your DH might not fully understand what is yet to come in the next 3 years as your kids age. I just have 1 kid and I’m constantly driving at least 3 to 5 other kids. This would be multipled in your case, and a minivan might be so helpful.

    If he won’t go for it, the large with the removable seat does seem better than some of the cars without that flexibility.

  43. And the serious buyers who don’t want to tie up $500 for two months.

    The rate how well a car is selling based on days worth of inventory. The Cadillac ATS sells terribly and they have 153 days worth on inventory on dealer lots. The best selling car in the US? The Honda Pilot with 5 days of inventory. They don’t need your business.

    That said, it’s terrible for the brand to treat people like that.

  44. Rhett, because the fine print says the lease deal is for people with leased non-GM vehicles, and we own our non-GM vehicle.

    Plus the lease deal was for the 2WD Convenience base model, and we want the Leather AWD.

    So instead of $309, they wanted $550.

  45. I recently carpooled with a young woman who has four kids. She and her husband looked for a mini-van but ultimately wound up buying a 9-seat passenger van. It was nice! Charging ports next to all the seats. Quite comfortable. Definitely a long vehicle and I wouldn’t want to parallel park the thing. Had a big-screen DVD player and all the bells and whistles. It was a GMC.

  46. I think it’s really nasty of Honda to treat their customers in that manner. We’ve been able to test drive other cars that were just as popular at the time.

    I hope it is just that dealer vs. the brand. I was amazed at the different cultures in dealerships when we shopped for the same car just 20 miles away.

    If you ever change your mind about the Toyota Sienna, we have a neighbor that coaches DD. He is a great guy that sells out of a northern county dealership that wouldn’t be that far from you for a one time purchase.

  47. I just think it would improve sales to keep a test model Pilot on the lot.

    Since it’s selling at list, the dealer is probably clearing at least $2k per vehicle. If you figure 5 people walk away each month because they won’t commit to a $40k purchase without a test drive, that’s $10k in lost profits. I bet it’s actually much more at this dealer, where most people buy the Elite or Touring trims.

  48. I would also be shopping for a new school for next year for your younger child.The chances of the problems being identified and fixed by this principal or a new one in a year are small.

    We’re not going to move her to a new school for one year. It wouldn’t be fair to her to take her away from all her friends.

    I could fix the problems very quickly – revert back to the previous rules and policies. While not perfect, they worked pretty well for years until she changed everything this year.

  49. If you figure 5 people walk away each month because they won’t commit to a $40k purchase without a test drive, that’s $10k in lost profits.

    The factory is running flat out. It’s not like they can sell an extra 5 per month. They are getting an allocation of X per month and that’s it. It’s not like can ask for X+5 and get X+5.

  50. As for the car, I know my DH would feel the same way about a mini van. The problem is that your DH might not fully understand what is yet to come in the next 3 years as your kids age. I just have 1 kid and I’m constantly driving at least 3 to 5 other kids. This would be multipled in your case, and a minivan might be so helpful.

    Right – that’s why we bought a Highlander with our last purchase and our upcoming one will also have a third row. We need the extra seats for carpooling.

  51. @Sky — really? Man, that kind of attitude would convince me never to do business with that dealer again. Did you talk to the guy who runs the place? I’d be very, very tempted to write him a polite but direct letter explaining that you loved your prior vehicle and were looking to replace/upgrade/stay committed to the brand, and that you were surprised and appalled by the difference between the advertised numbers and what you, a loyal customer, were quoted, simply because you had made the investment to buy instead of leasing; and that they of course can choose to do business that way, but you don’t choose to give your business (and $$) to people who operate like that, and that as a result, they have lost a loyal customer, who is now being force to go spend her hard-earned cash at [insert competitor here]. And I’d cc the brand’s corporate people, too, not just the franchisee.

    This is the kind of thing that drives me up the wall — you have someone who has already bought one of your cars, so your immediate response is to jack up the price? How stupid can you be? OTOH, it does give me some pleasure to think about how much $$ I have NOT spent at BMW over the past 15 years, ever since they screwed me over on a @$900 repair — every time I buy a new car, I am tempted to send them a letter saying, “hi, I know you don’t remember me, but I just spent yet another $40K at someone who was Not You, so thanks again for denying my warranty coverage in 199x.”

    Not that I hold a grudge or anything. . . .

  52. Thanks, Lauren.

    Practically speaking, we ought to drive the Sienna.

    The Toyota finance guy who kept us waiting for two hours with a baby when we bought the Lexus and then tried to change the terms of the loan so we paid $2k more left me vowing never to buy anything from them again. Our later service experience was the icing on the cake. It’s too bad I love the car :)

    If my investigations indicate that your friend’s dealership is owned by someone else, we might take a look at the new Highlander there.

    But DH is focused on the Enclave now….

  53. The factory is running flat out. It’s not like they can sell an extra 5 per month. They are getting an allocation of X per month and that’s it. It’s not like can ask for X+5 and get X+5.

    But it’s going to be a long-term loss of customers. Asking people to put money down on a car they can’t even test drive will drive them to other vehicles.

  54. A Parent beat me to it, but if you are serious that the solution you want is a new principal you may have to change schools to achieve that. Change comes very slowly and usually long after it is too late to help the kids whose parents began the process. In our district, it takes 3 years of documented complaints to begin the process of removing a teacher.

  55. DD,
    I get what you are saying about not wanting to move her. My point would be if her school is really terrible and she knows you think that too, then you need to get her a new one. That shows her how important school is to her family. This is not an optimal solution. I also get that the solution could be a quick one, I am commenting on the probable time line.

  56. LfB, I find all car buying to be a frustrating time suck. It cannot possibly take them half an hour to run credit and find a price; they are hoping to bore/frustrate you into agreeing to whatever terms they try to impose. Then there is the next half hour while they “talk to the manager” and then the next half hour while they check nearby dealers for the model you want. Grrrr.

    I think if we pushed it at the time we could have cut a better deal, but they didn’t have any 2016 models on the lot either so we already knew we would have to make a second trip.

  57. “Asking people to put money down on a car they can’t even test drive will drive them to other vehicles.”

    Yeah, I agree with Sky, they should just keep a loss leader on the lot and take orders. This is why I never got a PT Cruiser — they didn’t have one available to test drive, and they just really didn’t even care if we ever came back. So I figured if they didn’t want my $$, I’d find someone else who did.

  58. But it’s going to be a long-term loss of customers.

    Oh, that’s totally true. It’s very short term thinking.

    Also, with it selling at sticker, I tend to think you a paying a premium for the Honda name. At one time the quality difference was worth the premium but that is no longer the case.

  59. Sky,

    The last few cars we’ve bought, we’ve figured out what we wanted, checked cars.com for deals with that model, color, options, emailed the dealers and asked for a price. When we got the price we wanted, we set up an appointment, checked out the car and started filling out paperwork. Granted, the amount of documentation is insane, including some disclosure that said not all snow chains fit on all tires, but most of the process could be done online. Why is it so difficult in your area?

  60. Denver, could you move her for a year if you had to?

    One of the things I am thinking of doing for my DD is touring the parish school so she knows there really is an alternative if the bullying gets worse. (Her situation has improved, for now.)

  61. @Sky — yep. It is rude and so obvious that I am surprised it ever works, but it must, because they keep doing it. I have two suggestions:

    1. Outsource it. Do the car-buying service from Costco or whoever else it is that does that.

    2. Alternatively, give them deadlines and walk when the time available expires. They can play all they want, but if you have a decent salesman, and you signal early on that you are both serious and time-constrained, they will sometimes give up on the stupid annoying ploys. Even if you need to come back to ink the deal, set up a specific appointment time to come in, and tell them that you have XX time to finish the paperwork, and if the paperwork doesn’t look exactly like what you’ve negotiated, or if you’re not done in time, then you’re very sorry but you will need to leave, as you have other things that have to get done and cannot wait around for approvals and Managers and the like.

    I just keep thinking if they are so disrespectful during the buying process, then what is the service going to be like?

  62. Would it really involve long term loss of customers? Don’t people hold on to a car for something like 7-10 years. In that frame of time, what is the relevance of long term customers?

  63. Don’t people hold on to a car for something like 7-10 years.

    The average appears to be 6 years. In a two car family you’d be buying a new car every three years.

  64. @Cordelia — well, I am on my third Acura. Largely because they treated me reasonably and made a decent car and generally didn’t leave me feeling like I was a mark.

    So from the salesman’s perspective, no relevance. From the brand’s perspective, and the franchise owner’s, it should matter a hell of a lot, given all the competition out there.

  65. I get what you are saying about not wanting to move her. My point would be if her school is really terrible and she knows you think that too, then you need to get her a new one. That shows her how important school is to her family. This is not an optimal solution. I also get that the solution could be a quick one, I am commenting on the probable time line.
    …..
    Denver, could you move her for a year if you had to?

    One of the things I am thinking of doing for my DD is touring the parish school so she knows there really is an alternative if the bullying gets worse. (Her situation has improved, for now.)

    The thing is, the school isn’t terrible, there are still a lot of great teachers, and aside from Spanish, the academics are still great. And DD is very happy there. But discipline-wise, it has become chaos from everything we are hearing.

  66. Would it really involve long term loss of customers? Don’t people hold on to a car for something like 7-10 years. In that frame of time, what is the relevance of long term customers?

    I don’t mean a loss of long-term customers, I mean over the long-term, they will lose customers. And this is my point – if people only buy a car every 3/6/10 however many years, if you drive someone away, then you’re not going to get a chance to win them back for years.

  67. But discipline-wise, it has become chaos from everything we are hearing.

    Is that entirely due to the new policies or is it partly due to the kids getting older?

  68. Not that I hold a grudge or anything. . . .

    LfB, I’m exactly the same way. I still won’t go to Lowe’s because they refused to sell us a water heater 15 years ago. Seriously. We just bought our house and it needed a new water heater. We went to Lowe’s on a Saturday morning, found one we wanted, and found the salesperson. He said he was the only there so he didn’t have time to write up the order. He even identified himself as the head of the department, and said to call back that afternoon and we could do it over the phone. I called back and spoke to someone else who said they were too busy to do the order because Saturday is their busy day, and I should call back on Monday and they’d do it then. So we drove over to Home Depot, and in 15 minutes we had a water heater ordered with an installation appointment set.

    I wrote a letter to the Lowe’s manager and of course didn’t receive a reply.

  69. Is that entirely due to the new policies or is it partly due to the kids getting older?

    It’s a small school (about 55 kids per grade) and they mingle a lot between the grades with performance grouping and electives, so I would say it’s due to the new policies.

  70. “Also, with it selling at sticker, I tend to think you a paying a premium for the Honda name. At one time the quality difference was worth the premium but that is no longer the case.”

    I’m not so sure about that. I’m willing to test the theory if I find a low price on a well-used Suburban and I’ll report back, but the other brands haven’t quite caught up yet. And the premium here is based more on that particular model being a recent, popular redesign, not so much the name.

  71. I agree with Rhett, not Milo. We would not have bought a Honda Odyssey if it were completely up to me- not worth the premium. I read your discussions about dealers as I begin my thirteenth year with only one trip to the dealer (coolant change under warranty) for my Buick Century.

    The model is a bigger factor in reliability than the brand.

  72. but the other brands haven’t quite caught up yet

    No, but they’ve narrowed the gap considerably. I don’t know that the public perception has quite caught up.

  73. We walked away from Toyota because at the time we wanted to test drive a Camry and they weren’t interested in us. We went to a Hyundai dealer and got great service. We stayed with Hyundai for our next car. We had never been treated in so shabby a fashion as at the Toyota dealer.

  74. Trailblazer only lists 6100 to 6300 lbs as the towing capacity. It’s just a V6.

    It *coooouuuulllldd* work, but the boat is probably about 5,500 lbs with the engine, then add fuel, ski equipment, luggage, five people…

    One thing I’ve noticed about the very-used market is that you can pretty much have whatever the heck you want for about the same price. In other words, when you’re talking 12 years old, there’s no longer much of a premium for the V8 Suburban with the 8500 lb base towing capacity, so why not?

  75. “I think elementary school teachers are also more apt to listen to Dads for some reason.”

    I wrote two emails to my DS’s 3rd grade teacher last year and she never replied to either. My DH wrote her an email about something different and received an immediate reply.

  76. but the boat is probably about 5,500 lbs with the engine,

    Ah, I did a quick googling and it said they are 3600. You must have gone with the big one.

  77. “I wrote two emails to my DS’s 3rd grade teacher last year and she never replied to either. My DH wrote her an email about something different and received an immediate reply.”
    I’ve been told by people in education that “when Dads show up, teachers and administration falls in line.” I also always dress professionally when I walk into the school and I think I get better results than friends who go in dressed in jeans and pony tail. Its all part of dealing with the world as it is, and not how we would like it to be.

  78. “We walked away from Toyota because at the time we wanted to test drive a Camry and they weren’t interested in us.”

    Same here! DH now refuses to consider Toyota. Audi refused to let us test drive a car, unless we committed to buy.

    We stuck to Honda and got good service. As a loyal Honda/Acura customer, I’m disappointed to hear about the crappy way that Sky was treated. That’s insane.

  79. Audi refused to let us test drive a car, unless we committed to buy.

    That is just so bizarre.

  80. On the other hand, for the year or so I was working with recently-released criminals helping them find jobs, “car salesperson” is one very real option for them. So you’re not always dealing with people who have excellent work/sales/interpersonal skills.

  81. “Ah, I did a quick googling and it said they are 3600. You must have gone with the big one.”

    5500 might be a bit high, but the 3600 doesn’t include the trailer. It’s incredible how difficult it is to find a straight answer.

    The other factor is that the towing aerodynamics are abysmal.

    I like the Sequoia, too, but their listed towing capacity is about the same as the Trailblazer. One problem is that there’s a lot of subjectivity in determining tow ratings, so in any case, I think the V8 vs. V6 is a nice bit of padding.

    https://washingtondc.craigslist.org/mld/cto/5413130718.html

  82. Someone mentioned the 3rd row for carpooling. When does that start being needed? What models do people like? I like a smaller car, but I’m guessing that I’m probably going to want carpooling room at some point.

  83. Sky, bear in mind that your kids are going grow and get bigger. They may fit into a third row seat now, but what about 5 years down the road? We went from a Honda minivan to a Pilot to a Sienna. All have third rows, but the Pilot’s was much smaller than the others. By the time we got rid of the Pilot, youngest DS (12 y/o at the time) had to sit sideways in the third row. And trunk space is really small with the third seat up.

  84. Tcmama, for us carpooling started last year when DD was in first grade.

    The kindergarten parents were still getting to know each other, so many parents stayed at birthday parties and went to practice and lessons with the kids.

    Now it’s rare to have a parent stay (I still stay unless someone has epipen training, but I’m usually the only one).

  85. Somewhere around first grade is when it became an issue for us. It’s not just carpooling, it’s for things like wanting to take a bunch of kids someplace for a birthday party or whatever.

  86. I use my Sequoia for carpooling. I can fit seven teenagers comfortably.

    We have five Toyotas, but we haven’t been able to buy any of them at the local dealership where we get them serviced. The local dealer could never match the price for an identical vehicles. So we bought elsewhere. It hasn’t affected the service.

  87. @tcmama — Depends on the kid. For DD-the-social-butterfly, it started when she started making friends, because apparently girls past the age of X exist only in clumps. By about 5th grade, our lack of a 3rd-row seat was a severe constraint on her social life. For DS, we’d still be just fine with a sedan, as he tends to do stuff with one friend at a time.

  88. So what 3rd row seat type of vehicles do people recommend? My husband is resistant to minivans but they seem like they’d make the most practical sense.

  89. I always find the “my husband won’t drive a minivan” thing puzzling. Do these guys think no one knows they have kids? Why can’t he be satisfied controlling what he drives on a day to day basis, and let you drive a minivan if that’s most practical for you?

    On the other end of the spectrum, I thought when my oldest went to college and my minivan gave out, it was a good time to go without the third row seat. I regret it all the time. Should have bought another van.

  90. @TC — just go sit in some. Which are most comfortable for you to sit in? Even if you plan to use it for kids, DS is 10 and is closing in on 5′. How do you get back there, and how easy is it to work the lever/handle if you need to move the 2nd-row seat? How easy is it to put the 3rd row down and up? What kind of distance do you have between the tailgate and the 3rd row? I was surprised what a huge preference I had for some over others, just based on trying them out (I love the Enclave, btw, but there were others that I couldn’t even have sat in the back seat without my neck at a 90-degree angle; I think the Mazda was the only other one I found tolerable, but that was before the redesigned Volvo, which folks here spoke well of). Nowadays I’d also ask about what safety they have engineered into the design for 3rd-row seat occupants, as I’d assume that has improved over the past @ 4-5 years.

  91. My DH was most resistant to a minivan. But on a daily basis we usually drive our own vehicles. He has driven an SUV since they became popular way back when. He really couldn’t object to the minivan as my vehicle. Both of our vehicles have room but mine is more comfortable for third row access and more luggage room. So when we have both people and luggage he’ll drive the minivan. He won’t admit but it has been a good choice.

  92. Sky, I don’t know where you live. But there have to be other Honda dealers you’d be willing to drive to so you can test drive the vehicle. Figure out a couple more and then try their internet sales departments, make an appt for a test drive. You/DH may need to take time off work to do this, calling on say a Tuesday morning to arrange a test drive early the next afternoon should be doable. IMO. I can’t imagine they’re over run with customers at those times.

  93. I always find the “my husband won’t drive a minivan” thing puzzling. Do these guys think no one knows they have kids? Why can’t he be satisfied controlling what he drives on a day to day basis, and let you drive a minivan if that’s most practical for you?

    Ditto. I do not understand this at all. I have a friend whose husband wouldn’t “let” her get a minivan, even when that’s what she wanted. This is beyond my comprehension that a husband has veto power over what his wife drives – especially when she’s obviously trying to choose something that’s practical for the family.

  94. “Nowadays I’d also ask about what safety they have engineered into the design for 3rd-row seat occupants”

    Ask whom?

    Certainly not the salesman. They usually have no clue about technical specifications.

  95. tcmama, we started carpooling with another family when our oldest kids were in 1st grade. I was driving 3 little kids every afternoon, and had the Volvo w/3rd row seat and it was perfect. A year later I was regularly driving 4-5 kids every afternoon, plus their instruments and sports equipment, and we outgrew the Volvo and jumped to minivan. The minivan has been just right for the job for the past few years.

    I have noticed that in the middle school years there seems to be less carpooling – kids start to do different activities, and the ones you live next door to are not necessarily on the same school/activity schedule anymore. So I’m not sure my next car will need to hold quite so many kids.

  96. I have seen Property Bros do a couple of things in gated communities with HOA restrictions, and at least one apartment condo. It is really not easy for them to manage the timelines and TV production requirements. My fantasy, if they were still in business in 20 years, would be to have them customize a 300 sq ft studio for me and my cat. Pullman or tiny corner kitchen with breakfast bar and drawer dishwasher, induction stovetop, microwave/convection hybrid wall oven, pull out kitty food dish tray. In unit small stackable washer/dryer, sleeping alcove, and a large dressing room/closet on the way to the bathroom with its walk in shower and Japanese toilet, of course.

  97. lark, just remember that 3 16 year old boys and their sports equipment easily take up the space of 5 12 year old boys. Learn from my mistake, my young friend, and keep your minivan.

  98. Depends on the kid. For DD-the-social-butterfly, it started when she started making friends, because apparently girls past the age of X exist only in clumps.

    As you said, depends on the kid. My DD (12) usually hangs out one-on-one with her friends.

  99. I won’t pile on to point out the silliness of the “won’t drive a minivan” declarations. I’ll just offer an alternative. Instead of going the Totebag path of “Well, he/she really didn’t see himself/herself driving a minivan, so we looked at three-row crossovers and ended up with the MDX/XC90/QX60,” spending $12k extra for a practically inferior vehicle, might I suggest get the new minivan, and with the leftover $, buy this:

    http://washingtondc.craigslist.org/nva/cto/5438800402.html

  100. Well, *I* won’t drive a minivan, so I see where they’re coming from. :) BUT I wouldn’t dream of telling DH “no, you can’t drive a minivan” if he wanted one. I think our next kid car will be a bigger SUV – I have my eye on those nice new Suburbans. The MDX has around 95K miles now so I am thinking of getting the timing belt and water pump done soon.

  101. L – I hate to be the bearer of bad news but a surburban has a worse image than a minivan. It announces that you have enough kids to drive you so crazy that other cars will give you a wide berth.

  102. In L’s current town, yes. But not in her projected new town located farther out. She might just have three hockey playing kids or a couple of large dogs.

  103. My brother and his wife will not drive a minivan. He urged me to move to an SUV when I replaced our van a few years ago. But the minivan just has so much ROOM for people and stuff, even though we’re done carpooling. It’s easier to get in and out, and my dad can navigate the sliding doors more easily than the regular ones. Harder to parallel park, but that’s not an issue here.

  104. “She might just have three hockey playing kids ”

    LET’S HOPE SO!

    And then they can become referees and extract money from the hockey system.

  105. WCE, it amazes me to read a thread where everyone has at least four kids and some have more than eight.

    Around here three puts us firmly in “big family” territory, and I only know one family with five (all born elsewhere).

  106. Hey, and speaking of that….ATM, have your kids started in hockey? Assuming they have cousins back where you grew up, they’ll need to keep up.

  107. When we started discussing kids, we agreed there would never be Barney in our house, and we’d never drive a minivan. When oldest was 2 we found out we were transferring to Houston, sold the house on the day we listed it, and were moving much more quickly than expected. My 2-yr old did not watch any TV and i needed a way to keep her occupied while I started trying to pack some stuff up. We tried all sort of donated Disney videos, but she had no interest in anything. Then I sunk low and tried Barney, and she loved it. Fast forward a few years to the heat of the carpool years, and I caved and bought a used Odyssey. It was perfect for us at that point in our lives. Moral of the story is I can’t be trusted?

  108. Milo – that car made me laugh as I look out at our MN winter.

    My husband does the majority of driving when we’re all together. We haven’t needed to carpool yet but our oldest is in kindergarten. Next year our younger one will be in kindergarten. I’m trying to think ahead to my next car.

    We’re not really car people. I bought a new Honda Civic when I graduated from college and drove it for 13 years (135,000 miles). I was starting to have to pay more in maintenance and really wanted remote entry as I still had to put a key into my door to unlock it (the horror). I decided to buy another Civic because I was used to them, they’re cheap, and I usually was the only one in the car. The salesman asked me what I wanted in a car. When I told him keyless entry I think he realized he wasn’t going to be able to upsell me. Now that car is becoming used more often for driving everyone and it feels small.

    My husband’s Prius was getting really beat up on the exterior but had very low mileage. We decided that after the hatch broke to trade it in after 7 years this past December. I followed Totebag advice and called around for quotes and I went in and picked it up without test driving. We got a great deal and had a wonderful experience at the Toyota dealer we went to. My husband didn’t care what he got but wanted a hybrid so I picked out a Camry Hybrid. I was relieved that he liked it considering he had little input in it. He didn’t even sign the papers. The decision to buy to when I drove off the lot with the car was 24 hours.

    I think I have to suck it up and realize I won’t be driving a little car for much longer. I just don’t know how much car I really needs. Sounds lIke most people on here have gone with a minivan vs a 3rd row SUV. Also, I care so little about cars that it is hard to think about how much minivans/SUVs cost. I’m trying to do my research in advance as we’ll probably pull the trigger quickly once we decide to upgrade.

  109. TCMama,
    (1) Do you only have two kids? (I should remember but I don’t)
    (2) How many kids do you want to be responsible for at once?

    DH and I were debating the captains chairs vs. bench for the second row, and I was arguing that if the car seated eight, each of my three could bring a friend.

    Then I realized that would mean I would be watching six kids at once. No thanks!

    With two you might let them each bring a friend home, in which case you would want at least four seats in back.

    There are a few threads on cars for 7+ if you search this blog for enclave or mdx.

  110. Sky – thanks for the search tips. I’ll have to do my research on old blog posts. I usually do my first researching here. I tell my DH a lot “well my blog says…”

    We have 2 boys. I guess I don’t care how many kids I’m watching, but that’s because I don’t know any better. I’m too worn out by my 2 that I think having friends along would make it easier. We haven’t had much yet for play dates. My oldest is super social though and will probably want to invite his whole grade over as soon as possible.

    I recall reading posts about nicer cars and reading about how quiet they are. I realized that is one feature I really want in my next car. I think it was in comparing the Pilot vs MDX.

  111. I can still fit six kids in the MDX because 11/12 is the age when at least one kid is tall enough to sit in the passenger seat, and 1 or 2 are short enough to fit in the third row. I think the third row is cramped in the MDX, but it generally works. The driving I tend to do with 3 or more kids is to/from girl scout events, religious school carpool, dance carpool, and pickup/drop off from distant bday parties. I started driving greater numbers of kids around 3rd grade, and I am still doing it now when I pick up from an evening event. My friends with more than two kids that do not own a minivan tend the drive the Acadia, Enclave, Suburban. The people with one or two kids drive all sorts of SUVs with a third row.

  112. We have a minivan. I really enjoy driving my kids with their friends. They really have lots of fun. I always volunteer to drive at activities for this reason.

  113. “Harder to parallel park”

    A minivan is harder to parallel park than a SUV with the same interior capacity? Call me skeptical. (Or you could call me irresponsible….call me unreliable…)

  114. “DH and I were debating the captains chairs vs. bench for the second row, and I was arguing that if the car seated eight, each of my three could bring a friend.”

    There have been many times when an extra seat would’ve meant one fewer car needed for the carpool, which would’ve meant one parent wouldn’t have had to possibly leave work early to drive, and saved the time spent as well.

    When it was time to replace our minivan, which we’d bought in large part because we anticipated driving MIL and FIL around a lot, which we did, we downsized because MIL and FIL had passed and we didn’t think we needed something that big. In hindsight, I kinda wished we’d got another minivan because that would’ve made us better carpool participants.

  115. “Then I sunk low and tried Barney, and she loved it.”

    Why was Barney sinking low?

    Before kids, I had a boss who had young kids and extolled Barney. He loved how Barney would tell the kids to do stuff like clean up, and they’d do it when Barney told them, even if they wouldn’t when their parents told them.

  116. L – Meme has a point on the Suburban. The largest family we know of, has six kids and they have a used Mercedes passenger minibus. The Dad mentioned that none of the larger SUVs was big enough to fit all their kids and gear/luggage.

  117. I agree, Louise. While we don’t know many personally, our area seems to be ripe with very large families (6+ kids is my definition of very large). As one of the gals mentioned on WCE’s thread, the new NV3500 is the best option if you can afford it (the used ones aren’t old enough to be cheaper).

    I’ve seen a number around here. The Mercedes Sprinter buses, also.

  118. “On the other end of the spectrum, I thought when my oldest went to college and my minivan gave out, it was a good time to go without the third row seat. I regret it all the time. Should have bought another van.”

    After many years driving a minivan, my H was very resistant to buying a car that only seats 5. But with our kids grown I was ready for something that is easier to park. So we bought a Subaru Forester. This means we can only offer a ride to one other person when our family of four is going somewhere. C’est la vie. We still have our 14 yo minivan, but we only use it for local trips.

    When we bought last year we did a version of the Fred method, narrowing our selection to a few models and then test driving them before asking for quotes online or on the phone. What I found was that even though I would make an appointment to test drive a car, we usually had to wait once we got there. That was a bit annoying. We ended up not test driving all the models we had planned because we just wanted to get it over with. The dealer we finally chose was not the closest, but they offered us a better deal and superb service.

    We are not “car people”.

  119. Meme, lol! More like forestry supplies – hockey, never. Dogs, maybe if my DH died. We are not pet people. :) Although DH wants to get a goat (!!!) to mow the lawn if we move to the new place. I thought that DD #1 could take care of it and use goatherding as part of her college applications, but I will not be taking care of any potential goats.

  120. L – I can see you in country couture but tending bees instead. I agree no goats, chickens or cows for you

  121. L-We once had a couple of goats. They were always getting out, either climbing over the fence or squeezing underneath. Much harder to contain than sheep. After one frustrating day of catching wayward goats, DH said that either the goats go or he goes. I told him that I needed to sleep on it and would let him know my decision in the morning.

  122. L – No no no! The forestry supplies go in the pick up! (a used bare bones one will do) As does the garbage you have to haul to the dump yourself – no town collection. A modern suburban is a pretty fancy car – starts at 50K. And you may still want to keep a backup train/commuter car for the days you have to go into Boston. I foresee a four car family very soon.

  123. Sheep farmer – good to know!!!

    Meme – DH’s next work car will be the pickup truck. His lease is up in the fall so it will be a good time to get it. :) I already have my commuter car, so we would just be replacing the big/kid car. :)

  124. A modern suburban is a pretty fancy car – starts at 50K.

    And that’s a pretty bare bones one. When DH was looking at cars last fall, we drove one that was nicely equipped but $69K. And it was pretty awesome, but it’s not like it was self driving. And it didn’t have a sunroof or the fancy stereo.

  125. My son has the pick up for his leased work car, but the minivan is getting old enough that the garbage can go in the back. They just added solar panels on the roof to run their new state of the art heat pump HVAC system (their street does not have gas), so he is looking at an electric car for his next model. They expect to generate so many extra energy credits that they will transfer the overage to me.

  126. it’s not like it was self driving.

    If you add in a sunroof, adaptive cruise and power running boards? $75,110.

  127. So our current car is about 8 years old – I figure we have about 4 more years with it, at which point this year’s and next year’s Suburbans will be cheaper – right?

  128. Tying the threads together….DD has shown goats for years in 4H and FFA. On of one the college tours, she and a genetics professor had a lovely conversation about the goats the professor used in her research to increase meat production in Africa. Just a few weeks ago, I had to actually purchase some hay and put it in the new SUV, because, somebody sold ALL the hay we produced last year and so there was none left for the goats.

    When we go on vacation, we rent a minivan to haul everyone around. Last week, one of the pickups was in the shop, so employee used DH’s pickup and DH used the SUV. Before I could use the SUV to carpool the speech kids, I had to get the dog hair and and hay particles out of it. The fact that a minivan can’t go off the paved road is starting to seem like a feature instead of a bug.

  129. Cordelia, that’s why the minivan and the Buick Century are mine, and the jeep and the truck (both with 4 wheel drive) are Mr WCE’s.

  130. I just talked to the board president. He said I’m the third person he’s heard from with similar concerns. There’s actually a board meeting tonight and he is going to bring it up to put on the agenda for next month’s meeting.

  131. Once when I was a kid and we were staying with cousins, my sister got up at the crack of dawn, opened the door, and was immediately pushed aside by the three or so goats rushing into the house. (No, they were not supposed to be house goats.) She couldn’t think what to do about it, so she just went back to bed.

    They ate all the house plants.

  132. But not the drapes, Honolulu?

    I can’t believe the dealer behavior described here. I haven’t looked in a couple of years, but even when we bought our Odyssey I had zero trouble walking onto lots to test drive minivans. Most places seemed to have a model around to test drive even if it wasn’t yet available to sell and there was a wait list for the model you’d bring home.

  133. Honolulu, that sounds like a lost episode of Curious George :)

    Denver, glad the board president is going to look into it and that you’re not the only one telling him there is a problem. Maybe he can get them to go back to the old discipline standards.

  134. DD, sounds like your uncertainty on what to do put you in an good situation. You were not first, and thus are not “that parent,” but your action bolstered “that parent’s” concerns and made it more than just the whining of one parent.

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