Selling Your Car to CarMax

I recently sold my car to CarMax, and while the experience was slightly better than being raped by a stranger on Craigslist, I still take umbrage with a few of the details.

If you’ve never been to CarMax, be aware that they go to great lengths to make their showroom, which consists of several used cars hurriedly sold off by their owners in a mad rush to make that next child support payment and avoid another court summons, look appealing and welcoming. This is mostly done by maintaining a strict maintenance schedule that regularly and repeatedly throughout the day makes sure to mop up the residue of despair and desperation that pools in fetid puddles around the slumped postures of those who arrive to CarMax as a last resort, hoping against all odds that they might earn a respectable price for their 1995 Ford Fiesta.

Carmax coffeeLike the saddest off-the-strip Las Vegas and downtown Reno wretches huddled around the craps table at 3 a.m. in the Circus Circus, these customers’ countenances betray the disappointment when the dice come up snake-eyes and their CarMax representative tells them that their car will fetch an amount somewhere below their expectations but somewhere above the price of small cup of coffee from a Motel 6 continental breakfast.

When I arrived at CarMax with the expressed intent of selling my 2006 Chrysler Sebring convertible, I was careful to manage my own expectations as I drove over. I felt that I had accurately assessed the value of my car in spite of its expired tags, malfunctioning catalytic converter, and considerable body damage due to my having misjudged a turn in my previous apartment’s parking garage while texting an ex-girlfriend in the throes of a cough syrup-induced 2 a.m. emotional meltdown.

As I parked my car in the lot out front and headed inside, I noticed a large banner declaring that CarMax would “beat any competitor’s price by $500.” This, I felt, was a promising sign, and my expectations were then raised a little beyond those muted ones with which I had arrived.

If you’ve never had occasion to sell your car to CarMax, allow me to describe for you the process, which consists of some notable theatrics.

Firstly, you will be greeted and taken under the wing of a CarMax representative who will begin by conducting a sort of pre-interview, during which you will be asked several questions about the condition of your car that the representative will pretend to type into his computer.

carmax employeeI say ‘pretend’ here because this is a bit of a vaudevillian charade, as the CarMax representative knowingly smiles as you knowingly lie in response to each question, making the rusted-out domestic piece of shit that you gave up trying to sell on Craigslist sound as though it has just came off the line at a luxury German manufacturer several weeks prior to your deciding to sell it to a national conglomerate with a penchant for fleecing desperate car owners.

It is, however, polite of them to humor you in this way and allow you the temporary illusion of control.

Once this pre-interview is concluded, you will be asked to wait in a holding area where other car owners nervously sip watered-down instant coffee as they wait to be told the terrible news of their car’s current dollar value. A short time later, after CarMax mechanics have completed their inspection of your car and uncovered all of the lies you’ve just told about its present condition, you will be collected by your representative and ushered back to his desk to be provided with a quote.

This is the moment your CarMax representative relishes the most, when the reason they took this job and forwent their hopes and dreams comes into sharp relief.

Exacting retribution for your having lied to him earlier, he will proceed through the mechanics’ itemized checklist, telling you that the mechanic found little to no problem with anything having to do with your car. This will cause you to think to yourself, “Wow, I may have actually pulled one over on these guys, and I’m going to make off with even more money than I expected!”

But then the representative will end by saying, “And we’re prepared to offer you … $500 for your car.”

At this point, you will feel just as God has intended you to feel from the moment you walked through CarMax’s doors: insulted, defeated, and embarrassed. Forget being caught masturbating to Ladies Home Journal when you were 14-years-old—this is by far the most humiliating moment of your life.

After a feeble attempt to launch a counter argument, during which the representative will not bother speaking and only shake his head in reply, pitying your compromised position, you’ll relent and accept the offer.

And then, as you wait for your Uber to drive you home, you will again notice that banner in the parking lot, and you’ll realize that $500 more than their competitor’s offer means that your car is actually worth nothing.

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