July 15, 2006: The Millers Get a BMW

I originally wrote all of today’s post and just before I saved it my web browser, which was using Adobe Flash, crashed on a Flash page and took all of the day’s update with it with no way to recover it. I could ever get a shot of the page because it died that much. It was very sad as it takes a long time to write the updates and especially today when there was so much going on that I had “all ready told you about” and now I have to recreate it again. I am sad. (Insert imaginary pouty face here.)

This morning I was up at 7:30. Nice and early. I got mostly ready to leave the house before Dominica even got out of bed. At 9:30 I had to do some work for the office before we could leave but it didn’t take very much time and we were out the door before 10:00 to head down to Princeton BMW in Princeton, New Jersey to get our new to us BMW 300cic convertible.

It took us one or two hours to go through the entire car buying process but it was a surprisingly pleasurable process and I am very impressed by the entire BMW experience so far. It turns out that because we are buying a certified BMW that is still under the original warranty that we not only get the remainder of the original warranty but we also get it extended out to 100,000 miles as well as, far a small fee, getting all of the maintenance for the car covered out to 100,000 miles. Let that sink in – all of the maintenance on the car included the oil changes is covered for another 84,000 miles! That is amazing. That makes it so easy to budget the automotive expenses for the next several years. I have never had anything like that before. We were also very pleased that we ended up getting a really good rate on the financing as well. Half a percent better than we had been expecting. The dealer even installed an auxillery jack connected to the stereo for us for free that allows us to plug our MP3 players into the car’s stereo without having to have any weird car adapter or going through the radio or something like that. And the MP3 player can be safely stowed away and not just sitting out in the car. We also found out that the car has a six disc CD changer in the trunk. We had no idea.

Before we left the showroom the salesman who sold us the car went out to the car with us and walked us through how to do everything with the car from the blinkers, windshield wipers and radio controllers to washing, fuel and maintenance instructions. I have never had a car dealer do anything like this before. It was awesome.

Dominica is still afraid to drive the 330cic so I drove it back to North Brunswick where we dropped off the PR5 and Oreo at the apartment and then drove up to South Bound Brook to look at the condo that we are really interested in up there. We ended up spending an hour or two at the condos looking and talking to the salespeople. They had two models open for us to look at. One was a “Delaware” two bedroom unit and one was the “Raritan” three bedroom unit. We really liked both of them but really fell that the two bedroom units are just not big enough for us in the near future and are not a good investment since we would probably have to sell it and move to a bigger place in not too long. The Raritan not only has an extra bedroom but also has a space where we could put in a small home theatre (not like Geneseo but enough to get by for the time being whereas most places that we have looked into wouldn’t have any capability to have anything like that at all.) It has a living room, dining room, eat in kitchen and a loft/den so there is a lot of living space. It is a three bedroom, two and a half bath. Just huge. Almost 2100 square feet. Plus it has an attic where we could actually store some stuff. That is really, really handy for people like us. Dad will appreciate that. The complex is dog friendly, affordable and has easy access to an area to walk Oreo which he will really appreciate. We were really excited about the whole place. Unfortunately they are almost all built and almost everything has been sold so if we are going to get a place there we are going to have to move very quickly on it which is very stressful.

Unfortnately our good feelings about the place evaporated quickly once we started asking about option details and needing to find out what they were supplying as data ports in the condos. It turns out that we opened a can of worms and discovered that the builder was not the high end home builder that they were pretending to be. They had been going on and on about the awesome high end data options that they offered and how most of the people who were buying the houses were IT professions who demanded the very latest in technology. But it turns out that they had never heard of the concept of having a house wired for data and all they were doing is putting in a cable (and by cable I mean the kind you use to watch television) running from the garage to the living room so that you could plug in your television and/or modem. Oh, the technology! It is bad enough not to do data ports standard but to not even offer them, know what they are or believe that any person would ever use them is a bit ridiculous. Now I am aware that I am from rural New York where there tends to be a bit more sophistication in the average home buyer or renter than in heavily popularted New Jersey but I would have though that since in rural Upstate New York having data ports standard in mid range rentals built almost ten years ago was standard that having them as at least an option that could be discussed and having sales people that could, at the very least, say that they weren’t offered when buying almost half million dollar homes in New Jersey today would be expected. This opened our eyes to a lot of things that were going on like the misleading descriptions of the services that they were offering (since they were claiming that these homes were “wired for fibre” but have no data ports suddenly being wired for fibre takes on a whole new meaning since my car is just as “wired for fibre” as those homes are), misleading descriptions of the resident population who, evidently, do not even have a modicum of data networking in their homes and have to have everything wireless to have anything at all (attention would be war drivers: huge, non-serious and completely wireless population to exploit with wireless networks extending to commercial, residential and state park land heavily wooded and protected!!!), and once called on it, description of the high integrity of the builders themselves. This last move by the salesperson caused me to do some Internet research into the reputation of Matzel & Mumford, a local operating division of the huge Fortune 100 builder K. Hovnanian. What I found was very discouraging. No one anywhere had anything positive to say about the company but there was an awful lot of really awful stuff. Matzel and Mumford is involved in a major legal tangle on the New Jersey coast where they are caught in a conflict of interest with a city council where the city council, for reasons that you can only imagine, gave complete control over an area to Matzel and Mumford and the company decided to enact New Jersey’s emminent domain law and stole the homes of a number of senior citizens so that they could be developed into condominiums. Not the kind of integrity that I was hoping for. More along the lines of big, evil corporation with no soul.

So we are really depressed. We love the condo and we don’t know of anything that is going to compete with it both from a cost and from a location standpoint but we really are concerned about doing business with a massively unethical builder – not to mention obviously not very competent from a wiring or sales perspective. (One of the salespeople even decided to try to trick me by telling me that all of the data and phone cables were wired directly into the circuit breakers!! – Um, can you say lawsuit?) We don’t know what we are going to do at this point. We are really upset and torn.

We went to the Omega and got a really late lunch. It wasn’t a happy lunch as we looked over the materials that we had picked up from the builder. We discovered some of the stuff that they were doing to confuse their own salespeople so that they would be more likely to mislead us through their own lack of knowledge of what they were selling. That made me feel worse about having been so mad with the salespeople but even more mad at the builder as it really showed how much forethought they had put into the whole thing. I would have said that the salespeople could not be blamed for the misdirection but they are the company’s representatives and they didn’t get a hold of anyone with more definitive knowledge for us (remember that this is a high pressure sales situation because these units are selling fast and there were only two left that we were really interested in and one of those two sold today as it was!!) but only offered to get a hold of someone in a few days when there might not be any units left to even discuss! They couldn’t even tell us what was installed in the model or in the unit that they had walked us through. And, in addition to being the company’s representatives, they didn’t take enough interest in their own jobs in know the basics of what they were selling and, and this is the clincher, the salesperson decided to stake her own credibility on the integrity of the parent company. Oops. Now no one has anything to stand on. Would that be the same parent company that told you that the data wiring was carrying 110 volts? Or the parent company that sent the elderly packing so new condos could go in with ocean views for those who could afford them? The one that made an illegal deal with the city council?

After lunch we went for a long drive in the new car. It had been raining while we were looking at the house so the top had been up. We packed Oreo into the car and headed east with no clear idea of where we were going to go. We started by driving out to Perth Amboy since neither of us had ever been out there before. Not the best area. Pretty much a slum, I would say. We drove down to the waterfront where there was a little public park and tons of people enjoying the warm weather (the sun was now out.) We drove down to the “scenic waterfront drive” and took the top down on the car. Oreo thought that that was the coolest thing ever. He got up and hung off the side of the car and looked at and smelled everything. He absolutely loved it. We drove down the water front all through the city and then on down to South Amboy across the bridge. With the car up to speed the dog was a little concerned about everything for about fifteen minutes but he calmed down and ended up having a great time.

From South Amboy we hopped onto NJ35 and headed south along the coast. Dominica couldn’t decide where she wanted to go so I decided that it was high time that went and saw Port Monmouth where my dad’s parents had lived during World War II. My grandfather had been a “consciencous objector” during the war and worked as an orderly, or something like that, in a military hospital there. My grandmother had lived there with him working as a receptionist or something along those lines in the same hospital. A year or two ago my grandmother managed to find some photographs of herself working at the hospital and we had talked about her time there. So I was the only person who knew where they had been. It must have only been a year ago, just before she died, because I think that we were talking about it because I had been doing some work in New Jersey for Wegmans and so she was talking about when they used to live in New Jersey.

So we drove down the coast and saw all of the little towns along there. It was a cool town. We took NJ36 out to the water and drove right along the beaches for a really long way. We met back up with NJ35 and drove that all of the way down through the intercoastal to Seaside Heights. It was a great drive and we discovered lots of really cool portions of the New Jersey coast. It is just wonderful to drive in a convertible by the ocean. I love that we live so close to the coast now. We can go to the ocean anytime that we want now.

While we were in Seaside Heights we decided to eat dinner at Rockafellas by the Seaside (which is technically in Ortley Beach.) (Funny that in Travel and Leaisure they mention this restaurant in “Driving Topless“.) It took over half an hour to get a seat in the completely back restaurant which we had expected, even though it was after nine in the evening, since the entire Jersey Show is packed for tourist season. The vegaquarian selection was incredibly weak considering the theme and location. The food was only so-so for the most part but the shrimp cakes were totally worth the wait and the bill. Delicious shrimp cakes done in a Maryland crab cake style (FYI: New Jersey crab cakes beat Marlyand crab cakes hands down anyday) with a hot Dijon-honey sauce. After that I was really happy that we had stopped even if the meal itself was even worth eating and Dominica ended up feeding her salmon to Oreo and I just threw mine out mostly.

The drive back didn’t take too long considering how many hours we put into the drive down but it was after midnight when we finally pulled back into the apartment. We are really happy with the car and are really excited to get to drive it everyday. It is too bad that what should have been such a happy day ended up being pretty upsetting in the grand scheme of things and instead of a great, relaxing drive it a was a necessary diversion and a chance to cool down.

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