Lynne Edwards, a Seattle Metropolitan member of 23 years, recently became our first member-owner to purchase a vehicle through Autoland, SMCU’s new in-house auto buying service. Autoland provides Seattle Metropolitan members a unique, convenient, and economical way to purchase a new or used automobile without the hassle of going to and negotiating with a dealership. We recently had a chance to sit down with Lynne and find out more about the Autoland buying process and how it compared to her previous car-buying experiences.
What persuaded you to choose Autoland?
Late last year I was thinking about purchasing a new car and actually applied for an SMCU auto loan. I got pre-approved but never ended up going through with the purchase. I stalled because the thought of entering into negotiations with a dealership made me very nervous. After that, I was pretty much settled on keeping my current car.
Just after the first of the year I got an unexpected phone call from Heather Sanneman, a loan representative at the Downtown Branch. Remembering I had applied once before, and that my hesitation towards negotiating was the reason I didn’t follow through, she suggested that I may be interested in a new SMCU service called Autoland. She told me that the entire car buying process (including negotiations) would be handled for me. It seemed appealing so I decided to come into the branch and see for myself what Autoland was all about.
What was it like purchasing your new car through the Autoland buying service?
Nicki, SMCU’s Autoland representative, was such a joy to work with and the process from start to finish was shockingly simple. Everything I needed to know or sign was presented to me right up front. It was refreshing to know that there weren’t going to be any surprise fees or agreements along the way. She even assured me that the trade-in of my ‘05 Toyota Corola would be handled by Autoland to make my experience as seamless as possible.
Even though this was my car purchase, my role was very much hands off. Once we found the car I was sure I wanted, Nicki took over and handled all of the negotiating for me. In my opinion, this was the best part about the process. Having a professional negotiator on my side made me feel certain that I was going to get the best deal without being forced to make any sacrifices. If there was ever a need for me to do anything or sign anything, Nicki would meet me at the Northgate Branch because it was the most convenient location for me. I loved that Nicki made it a priority for me to be comfortable through the entire process. She was always there for me when and where I needed her.
It took roughly two weeks from the day I decided to use Autoland to the time my new Toyota Rav4 was delivered (to the Northgate Branch of course) from Oregon. When it arrived, I was given a thorough overview of the car’s features and was able to ask as many questions as I needed until I felt comfortable. They even set up the Bluetooth and synced it to me phone for me! Before I drove away, Nicki was also able to set up appointments for me to have the interior Scotchgarded and the exterior sealed with scratch protector. and have those costs rolled into my loan so I wouldn’t have to pay out of pocket.
I really have nothing bad to say about my Autoland buying experience. Everything from my trade-in, to finding my car, to getting the loan funded was really easy. I never thought buying a car could actually be fun.
How does Autoland compare to your previous dealership buying experiences?
The one drawback to Autoland is that you can’t test drive your vehicle before you purchase it. This can be overcome with a little homework and due diligence on your part, but even still I can’t imagine a better experience. You don’t have to deal with aggressive (and sometimes shady) salesmen or a complicated, and in most cases confusing, pricing environment. With Autoland you have a reputable, professional negotiator on your side. The service fee I paid was 100% worth the trouble and stress I saved from the traditional car-buying paradigm. I’m confident that even with the fee, I got a better deal than I ever could have if I went to a dealership first.
To learn more about Autoland visit the auto loans section of smcu.com, or stop by SMCU’s Downtown Branch and talk to our in-house Autoland specialist.