December 19, 2015

Hondugly. Honda's Ugly Vehicles.

Honda is a company synonymous with quality.  In the automotive world, their vehicles are known to last and last.  But, is their focus on quality mechanics all they have these days?  Judging by their vehicles' curb appeal, I'd say yes.

They sure are building ugly cars these days.  The CR-V has always been an ugly vehicle.

But, now the Pilot is taking on these hideous looks.  The pointed nose and long squinting lenses of the lights, make it more evident these vehicles are not SUVs but CUVs.
And, don't even get me started on the Oddessy.  Of course, who likes the look of a minivan anyway?  The latest version of Honda's minivan has confusing lines from the side profile.  The body crease is different from the line along the bottom of the window, which is different still from the top rail guide for the sliding door.  It's just too many different lines.
For the biggest name in quality and affordability, Honda has the economic Civic.  This car has had some variations and models that were appealing (at least until you drove them and found the gutless engines and poor handling, compared to the equivalent VW vehicles).  The latest version of the Civic, which I saw today, has the worst front end look I've seen.  There's some sort of front chrome piece that protrudes from the grill, like an old set of head gear used to straighten teeth.  This 10th generation should be a milestone model, with throwback ideas from the first generation, and forward thinking styling of a generation this far from it's beginnings, back in 1972.

 I'm not sure about what the thought was behind that front piece, but I don't like it.  Click to get a bigger version, or go check it out on Honda's site.  Awful.

Honda also had their Ridgeline, which only had one generation. Now, there is a tease site for a coming second generation, to be announced in January at The Detroit Auto Show.  We'll see if it looks like a truck, with tough, man-ish features, or if it looks like a forced CUV with a truck bed.

Here are a few versions drawn up, from people guessing or predicting what it will look like.  Motor Trend and Car and Driver posted these photos.

So, the question is, how do you make a quality vehicle that also looks great?  Do you have to sacrifice one for the other?  I have long wanted to be a Honda fan, because of their history of low maintenance costs, long lasting dependability, and their economic and environmental reputation.  But they are too often ugly, gutless wonders.  I've tried twice; once, with a Civic in 1999, which was beat out by my VW Golf based on power, performance, and price, and the second time was the Accord in 2008, which was beat out by my Nissan Altima for the 3 P's too.

I do want a truck.  Could the new Ridgeline grab my attention and be daily driver that performs as a truck with the efficiency of a car?  We shall see. 

July 11, 2015

General Chaos at General Motors' Chevrolet Cadillac Branded Kuni Owned Dealership in Sacramento, CA

The Intro:
Buying a new car is stressful for anyone, especially when many people believe sales people and dealerships are often times working towards confusing the buyer into believing a deal is great, all the while, disguising an excessively profitable deal for themselves.  And, while I do not think a dealerships should be stuck with an unprofitable deal, an honest upfront, "it can't be done for that low of a price," would go so much further with me than being caught in a manipulative lie.  Well, I believe I caught the lie just in time.

The Back Story:

Saturday 06/13/15, my wife and I, with our two boys, spent over 4 hours at Kuni Chevrolet in Sacramento, CA, working out the details on a lease we believed was for a Chevy Tahoe LTZ.  And, while the vehicle we were negotiating the deal around was not at Kuni on that Saturday, it was a short distance away, said to be coming from a dealership in Milpitas, CA.  An agreement was reached on a Silver 2WD LTZ with a rear seat Blue-Ray/DVD system, second row bucket sheets, and a whole bunch of other features, including our favorite color. We completed some paperwork, which included a VIN number (ending 639176) for, what we believed, was our future LTZ model Tahoe, with delivery planned for Monday, 06/15/15.

On Monday, my wife and I each made calls to Kuni late in the afternoon, looking for information on the vehicle's arrival, as we needed to arrange getting to the dealership to take delivery and provide our down payment.  Eventually, we were called back and told "the bad news," by our salesman, that "the Milpitas dealership sold the vehicle right out from under us".  He went on to say he and his manager yelled at the other dealership about professionalism and fulfilling commitments, and he assured me he was looking to locate another LTZ with all the same specifications we'd agreed to originally.  It was at this point my wife decided to use Google and look-up the VIN to locate this dealership in Milpitas.  We'd hoped to contact them and find out more information on how they could have sold our Tahoe to someone else.  But, the Google search resulted in a hit at Kuni Chevrolet in Sacramento.  I thought it was odd, but believed perhaps it had something to do with the transfer happening over the weekend to Kuni.  Perhaps, Milpitas sold it early Monday morning.

On to Tuesday and Wednesday, which went about the same as Monday, with different salesmen getting involved with the vehicle search for us.  One salesman even sent specs with another VIN for a vehicle located in Fresno.  But, that one too was sold before we could get it up to Kuni, and other Tahoes were also "sold right out from under us".

Then, Thursday evening came and I received a call from our original salesman.  He'd located "the perfect LTZ Tahoe in Southern California, with the cocoa dune (light tan) interior, just as we'd always wanted."  Although we'd always planned on gray or black in an LT model, we'd discovered gray wasn't offered in the LTZ models Kuni had been working to make the deal on.  My wife felt she'd be satisfied with the tan, as it was a lighter, cooler color for the hot sunny days, but we wanted to see it in person first.  The salesman told us they were going to put someone on a plane to Los Angeles and have the truck delivered to the dealership on Friday.  Skeptical at this point, I told him to call me when it arrived.

And Friday night, 06/19/15, at about 4:45pm, I received a phone call from the salesman.  He said the vehicle had arrived.  He told me he was sending it to be detailed and he wanted to know what time we could be down.  I told him we'd come look at it after I got off work, at approximately 6:00pm.

As we pulled into the dealership later that evening, we saw the Silver Tahoe and we initially got excited.  We looked it over, reviewing the interior color and other required features.  We then went inside to sign corrected paperwork, with the new vehicles VIN number.  For our troubles, I expected they may have even sweetened the deal.

We were introduced to a new (new to the dealership and new to us) finance guy.  Since the deal was already established, I expected it to be a quick signing process.  But, when the finance guy pulled out the new paperwork, I immediately looked to the overall cost and saw an increase of approximately $900.00 in price.  "Not to worry," said the salesman, "your payment is still the same".  I reviewed the paperwork again for where this increase was going to appear, and it had been placed into the residual value (the amount the truck will cost if we buy it out at the end of the lease, or the value it needs to be worth if we decide to sell it private party).  I explained I wasn't happy with this.  After all the issues, the deal should have been, at minimum, the same deal we'd agreed to on Saturday, a week earlier.

AND THEN ALL HELL BROKE LOOSE.  My ever racing mind put together the following facts and connected, what I believe, was a complete manipulation of the truth to lock us in with the Kuni dealership.  Based on my experience in sales, pricing, finance, and with my training in reading people's body language, interviewing and interrogation skills, I quickly put together what I believe happened back on that first Saturday.

The Facts That Quickly Took Shape in My Head:

1.  Kuni Chevrolet did not have any Chevy Tahoes on the lot besides a blue LS (base) model, unless they were incompetent in finding others when asked about the specific LT model showing on the Kuni website.  We were eventually told, the one on the website "must be in transit."

2.  While working on pricing and payment for leasing an LT model Tahoe, the salesman presented specifications for several different Tahoes that closely matched what we'd laid out, but were never exactly right, as they all were either missing a feature or two, were the wrong color, or were found to be unavailable at the other dealerships.

3.  Upon stating I needed to go, but would return once one was found matching our desires, the salesman asked for another minute.  He left and came back with an LTZ model (a model above the LT we'd initially designed) and he managed to make it work with a relatively attractive lease deal.

4.  After reviewing the documents and the designed down payment, monthly payments, and residue value, we agreed to sign for this LTZ model vehicle.

5.  The finance guy created paperwork for the deal and included a VIN number we later Googled and found as an LS at Kuni.

6.  We were told our LTZ was "sold out from under us," by a dealership that was supposedly in Milpitas, CA.

The Realization of The Facts and What I Believe Happened:

While sitting there on Friday, realizing they were trying to make an additional $900.00+ out of the deal, hiding it in the residue to keep the payments the same, I connected the original VIN's Google Search results, to the blue LS model still sitting out on the Kuni lot.  I then surmised there was never an LTZ from Milpitas on it's way with the original VIN used on the GM Financial Leasing form and the CA DMV 262 form we signed.  Instead, I believe the original deal was made without an actual LTZ model located, but rather Kuni fabricated this deal and unmatched VIN for the purpose of running our credit, locking us into a deal with them, and giving them time to find a vehicle they could actually make a relatively similar deal on.

Why I Believe There Was an Ethical Issue Here and The Aftermath of My Rage:

I sent the new finance guy out and called for the original finance guy and our salesman to confront them both.  With prior conversations and all the facts, I put together my mental interview notes and decided to go straight into interrogation mode.  When the original finance guy and our original salesman arrived, I told them I knew what they'd done and I could not believe they would try to manipulate me like that.  The finance guy's immediate reaction, one of self preservation was to pull the file in toward himself as a way of protection.  He then got indignant and frustrated and said, "oh you think you've got us figured out, do you?" I explained, I did and his reactions was my proof.

I explained, my belief was the original LTZ model from Milpitas didn't exsist and because Kuni couldn't find a vehicle that matched our desired specifications, they manufactured one for the purpose of running our credit.  I explained, I believed the VIN used was to the LS model on the lot because they needed a VIN for the paperwork, which I told him I wanted back.  I explained I needed the originally signed DMV 262 form and the originally signed lease contract.  He refused and said they were his file copies and I couldn't have them.  I told him, I wasn't going to allow an ink signed contact and DMV form to be left intact on a vehicle I never agreed to purchase.  He then said, "it was a simple typos," pulled the forms out, and ripped them in half.  He then angrily threw them on the desk and left.

The salesman pleaded with me to give them a second chance.  I told him to go get the original features list and VIN for the Milpitas LTZ Tahoe.  He couldn't produce it.  Even after searching for several minutes, a saleswoman involved in the original negotiations came with a piece of paper and showed me a list of VIN numbers, one without a sales date and said, "see, it's right here."  I explained to her and the salesman that she was showing me the same VIN for the blue LS...AGAIN!  The salesman told her, "you are doing the same thing the others did."

So, we left the dealership.  We eventually went to a different dealership and bought an LT model for about $9,000.00 less than the LTZ.  We filed a case with GM, but "GM doesn't get involved with sales disagreements," even though this is an ethical issue, from my point of view, not just a sales disagreement.  The operator told me, she had "checked with her resources and this wasn't something they'd get involved in".  She did tell me if I gave her my new VIN, she could offer On-Star for a couple years, but that service is crap.  Kuni was supposed to reach out but never did.

One more point:  There is no dealership in Milpitas, CA.  This may be where the train stops to drop off the inventory of new Chevy Tahoes for Northern California, but there's no dealership.  The fact that ethics in car sales is always a question in people's minds, makes me so angry.  I've been a car nut for years, but the industry is so corrupt.  I hate that I bought a GM product after all the bailout BS, but it's a superior SUV to the rest.  And the fact company wasn't willing to look at this issue for what it was, an ethics issue not a sales dispute, makes me more disgusted with my purchase.  There was no dispute with the original sales deal.  I actually think it was an amazing deal...too amazing perhaps, and Kuni couldn't live up to that deal.

June 8, 2015

Going Through the Big "C", and I Don't Mean California

So right into it, like ripping a band-aid off: Mom has cancer. Or, I guess I can say, "had cancer". The doctors ripped out all her guts on May 4, 2015 and say they got it all. But now it's time for chemo, which means she's far from out of the woods. Chemo has its own set of "issues", but is said to be necessary to make sure to prevent the cancer from returning; there's a 20% chance of return with this kind of cancer (Scientific name: Gonadal-Stromal Tumor, Favor Granulosa Cell Tumor).  Besides the widely known hair loss issue, there's a real risk of kidney damage, as the crazy chemical pumped into her veins wreak havoc on her entire body and its systems.

This is Mom, six days after her full hysterectomy.

I've shaved my head, of course, as a sign of support for my soon to be bald mother, but really the way to support her is prayer. She is a faith filled woman, who has never doubted God's provision and grace, at least from the perspective of her children. She has always been great at pointing everything (good or bad) back to God and His grace. Whether it was an issue we faced as I grew up or something we saw someone else dealing with, my mom has never seemed to live outside of the understanding that God's hand is in everything. As my aunt says of her sister, "Gail lives in Gail Land."  I think Gail Land is a place where comfort comes from knowing God and believing He is truly in control.

Here I am with my shaved head.

Originally, when I found out about my Mom's tumor, I wrote the following in my Bible Journal:

Matt 9:1-8
Jesus Heals a Paralytic

Right now, with my mom's potential cancer tumor, this is more important for me to understand and believe.

Verse 8 sums up where the power of healing comes from, which ends "(God) had given such authority to man."  Jesus was the man. Jesus, the son of God, who was God in man form, was given the power to heal by God.  And really, the purpose for the healing is so "they glorified God."  It's always about God's glory. So how does that happen with my mom's cancer tumor?

Faith. Verse 2 "Jesus saw their faith".  Faith in this situation led to Jesus initially telling the man his sins were forgiven. But then when challenged, He also healed the man of his physical issue. And when we realize sin is so much worse than a physical ailment, we can begin to truly understand the power here. It's really about saving us from us. And our part is simply faith in God.

Ultimately, it's about God being glorified and whatever does happen in this potential cancer situation, it's about God's glory. Faith can bring about healing power. I've prayed more. I've thought about God's power more. I've thought about Heaven and the better place it is. There is an awkward peace in knowing that God is in control. I say awkward because I don't want Him to choose a way that is not my way. I want Him to heal my mom completely before even going to the doctor, but truly there is peace in knowing the opposite result would ultimately afford my mom eternity with God.

So, I share this because God deserves all the glory in this.  Mom's hope, trust, peace, joy, faith, ALL things "Gail Land", must be understood as glory to God.  Her faith is so great and no matter the outcome (and it looks long and tough, but good), she will glorify God.

Please pray that He strengthens her through this and she suffers little.  Pray she remains positive and hopeful and in God's comfort.  Pray my dad also remains strong, and provides her and is provided from God, rest and comfort and peace.

May 3, 2015

Phones Are Becoming Computers

The below "Rabbit Trail" is pulled out of a post from June 13, 2007, in which I talked about the iPhone. I discussed something I saw as a mistake made by Bill Gates and Steve Jobs, in which they seemed to be against making devices like cellphones work as full computers. Now, Microsoft is expanding on something they are calling Continuum for phones.  But before we look at that, here's my thoughts from 2007 (almost 8 years ago):

Here is a Rabbit Trail:I think that Bill Gates and Steve Jobs both are missing the mark on where computers should go in the future. They were both unable to adequately answer the questions of where they saw computers in 5 years, at the D5 conference. The iPhone is a step in the right direction, but it’s just a fancy phone. The next revolutionary product should be the personal computer you take everywhere. It should be the size of the iPhone, have memory in the terabytes range, have the ability to sync with anything (monitors, keyboards, mouse, TV, networks, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, cellular, satellite, etc.), and simply be your only computer.
Imagine if you could take your cell phone to work, in your pocket, sit down at your desk with a full screen and keyboard, and connect to everything digital that is yours. That is what the next gen iPhone should and could be. That’s the one I want.

Below is an article on Mircrosoft's Continuum for phones. 

Additionally, here is the announcement from Microsoft's Build conference: Microsoft has announced the ability with Windows 10 to use your cellphone as a full computer, something I thought should be designed by either Apple or Microsoft back in 2007.

At this point, I feel the new Microsoft is based on my website.  Enough of my ideas and designs have come true or are part of the company's future product features/announcements.  MS should have called me and offered me a high paying job, designing ideas and seeing their implementation through.  My ideas have all been considered great ones, well after the announcements they are finally going into design or affect in future software releases.

Related Posts:

April 28, 2015

DEWshine. I Miss Blogging Sodas.

Well, I was part of the DEWmocracy years ago and used to have so much time to write about this stuff. Now, no time. Here's the short version, DEWshine is different. And different is good. 
I found it by chance at a Raley's in Suisun,CA of all places. It's not Mountain Dew but there's a familiar sweetness. It's not 7-UP, but there's a likeness to its crispness. It's just good. 

Go find one. 

February 28, 2015

Land Rover Defender, Quite A Vehicle

It's not often these days that I come across something that moves me to update my blog.  But the Land Rover Defender impressed me with it's amazing abilities and I had to post some videos of it.  The sad thing is Land Rover is discontinuing the Defender this year.  Enjoy the videos.

Here's one person's (James May from Top Gear, UK) plan to save it.