Errrrk! Stop those cars!

So, the Jordan Times has an interesting article about cars today.  If you haven’t seen it yet, check it out here.  I find the premise of the article interesting.  The problem with buying new cars in Jordan is the availability of used cars.  Really?!  Some of you may recall the challenges we had trying to purchase the Beanmobile.  We spent 3 months (!) in a rental car waiting on El 3atal to be “confirmed” in his employment since Jordan doesn’t have credit agencies and even global banks won’t use US credit agencies to determine credit worthiness.  Then, we spent ridiculous amounts of time trying to get the loan from the bank.  Then the car dealership had to talk to the bank about the loan.  Then they had to actually clear the car through customs, then… Basically, it was a frustrating and slow process.

In addition to the snail-like approach to the lending side of buying a car, dealership are open banker’s hours.  If you want to see a car, you go when they are open (10-2) Sunday through Thursday.  Please note they close every weekend and every holiday.  As anyone who has bought a car in the US is aware, the car dealership opens early in the morning, stays open until 10 a night and is open every weekend and holiday.  Maybe that’s because American employers aren’t going to overlook the fact that you skip work to look for a car…  And let’s not forget that, in Jordan, you may get all the options that you want as long as you can find them on the lot right now.  Yes, that’s right, if you want a gold car with leather seats, you’d better hope they have one.  And if they do, the other options available are the ones on the car they have in stock.  None of this pesky choosing the color of the car, the type of interior features, the options.  You like what we have is the Jordanian new-car motto.

So, given that car dealerships are unfriendly and overpriced (it takes 3 days at a minimum to get a car if you’re paying CASH), can they really blame people for getting more bang for their buck and buying used?  Apparently, though, new cars don’t top 25% in the country.  If you’ve seen the junkers roaming Amman’s streets, this won’t surprise you.  And the new car representative in the Jordan Chamber of Commerce wants to allow import of cars no older than 5 years.  Well, they already kind of do that by forcing importers to pay the 5 year customs on cars of any age beyond it.

They suggest cutting the “special tax” from 81 % to 40 % of small engine cars.  Yes, American readers, you read that right. For a new car, they charge an 81% tax on it.  So, my Kia minivan here (which is maybe half-loaded) cost more than my Toyota Sienna that was fully loaded (including in-car DVD player).  They go on to say that people with less income buy used but then spend the money maintaining the car, which they don’t have to do with new cars for 4-5 years.  ??? Hunh?  Every car needs maintenance.  Old or new, you change the oil every 3-5,000 miles.  Old or new, you change hoses, filters, etc.  Old or new, you rotate tires and replace batteries (our manufacturer issued battery lasted barely a year).

Setting aside the fact that I think poor service, poor warranties, and customer unfriendliness send people to used car dealers.  Let’s look at this issue from another perspective.  The big 3 car makers in the US whined and moaned and complained that it “wasn’t fair” that they had to compete against the Japanese who were back then peddling cars know as “Jap junk.”  American automakers just couldn’t do it.  The US needed to “protect” them.  You know, 40 years later, we’re seeing how poorly all that “protection” worked out.  Now we’re bailing out those same car makers who used “protection” to keep them from having to become competitive.

Every industry in Jordan seems to do this.  The tomato farmers were, the car dealers are.  Stop crying out to the government to fix your situation until you’ve at least remedied the systemic issues that you can fix.  Once you have clean, SMOKE-FREE dealerships and service centers with friendly customer service people…  and once you have customer-focused hours and policies… THEN let’s talk to the government about finding ways to help you out.  Because I’ll tell you this, I don’t think poor you.  I think poor me.  The consumer is the bottom line one who is negatively impacted in this deal. I pay outrageous prices for an inferior product sold to me with piss-poor service.  And when the government did have a minimal import duty on hybrid cars, somehow the same dealerships who are crying foul now charged no more than 3000 JDs less for the car.  On a 30,000 JD car, that’s simply not 81% now is it?  So, all I’ve got to say, from the peanut gallery here, is take the plank out of your eye, before you ask the government to help you with your neighbor’s splinter…

Happy used-car salesmen!



8 thoughts on “Errrrk! Stop those cars!

  1. Ahhh the reality of life in Jordan. Unfortunately you are in the extreme minority even if you are right. What do you expect from a country where newspapers take three days holiday during each Eid since life comes to a standstill and nothing happens in these three days. Work…? what a concept. I’ll stick to a horse-drawn carriage myself.

  2. Imagine, if you will, me cheering your post very loudly, yelling, “Yeah! What she said!”


    As I said when I got my the most expensive half-loaded Kia Sportage on the planet… “I will drive this thing until it falls to pieces to avoid ever going through that experience again.”

    • Emi, I had hoped you might comment. I now you had the typical Jordanian car-buying experience. Promise date Saturday, actua date Monday two weeks later. Sigh. Our bean mobile is now 5 years and going strong. I hope we never have to deal with it again. If we do, it’ll be El 3atal doing it alone…

  3. I can understand if the government forces insanely high special taxes on imported cars to support its local car building industry, but in Jordan all cars are imported. The government is not trying to protect its national industry so how this is explained?
    I remember 10 years ago, some people in Irbid used to go to Germany to buy couple of years old German cars. Might sounds an insane idea but I heard they save lots of money this way, I was told.
    You know Americans ride Kia now? Who would thought Kia in the US 🙂

    • Jaraad, we saw that last summer. Kias everywhere. And, I have tos ay that while it would not have been my first choice, ours has been a very dependable car. We’re happy with it. Oh, and Toyota and honda both made their new minivan seriously ugly.

      And I’m with you on the import thing. There is no manufacture of passenger cars here. I understand it’s a huge area of revenue for the government. But at what cost? Make up the shortfall by taxing people for owning cars and, here’s the kicker, make them pay their #@!% parking tickets. Imagine how much revenue the country would have if they put someone with no actual ties to Jordan (say some American weenie) in charge of parking tickets. You’d suddenly see no exceptions, no wasta and lots and lots of money! That’s my idea for making up the shortfall.

  4. What you need is an independent towing service considering how many cars are illegally parked because the drivers don’t want to bother looking for parking spaces with some walking distance. Unfortunately, the towing service would not last very long whenever they tow some VIP vehicle and said VIP makes a couple of phone calls.

    • Joe, actually my plan is two fold. In addition to the weenie with no wasta-bility, you need to build a lot just past the airport. Award a contract to a service that tows cars to the lot past the airport. In order to retrieve your vehicle, you pay the parking fine (let’s call it 200JDs) and the towing fee (another 200). That would definitely take care of illegal parking. Oh, and it would fund the parking lots you need to build to ensure legal parking spaces are available ;). So, yeah, the VIP is exactly why the head of the agency needs to be someone with no ties and no interest in whether some important person got towed… In other words, the appointment to the position would have the be at the highest level and no interference in waiving tickets could come from any other office ;). Okay, so now you know what my dream looks like, teehee.

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