• Tell me if this has ever happened to you.

    I'm interested in a car, so I start with a little research on the Internet (search).

    I go to the site to request a brochure, which I'm told will be e-mailed to me within minutes.

    I leave my e-mail address, but get no brochure.

    I wait a couple of more days, but still no brochure. So I go back to the site and search down the dealership nearest me — even "pre-build" the model I want with the items I want — and e-mail them. But I get nothing from them.

    So I call the dealership up and express my interest. Someone will get back to me. But no one does.

    I'm what car salesmen would call "a hot one." But no one's hot to get back to me.

    I call again. The salesmen are busy. Someone will get back to me. Again, nada. Zippo. Nothing.

    I'm all but saying, "Here's my money. Take my money. Let's do a deal."

    No deal.

    Now I'm getting angry. I call the dealership again and inquire as to whether they're brain-dead, or just plain dead. The woman answering the phone seems confused. She doesn't know who's in charge of brain-dead. But for good measure, she passes me along to the closest thing: the manager. Who also has an assistant. Who also tells me he'll get back to me. But he doesn't.

    Now I'm more curious than mad.

    I call back.

    "You must be doing boffo business," I say.

    "Not really," she says. "Things are slow."

    I'm thinking — but not — saying, "No, you're slow. Is there a reason that no one gets back to me when I'm hot and ready to buy a spanking new car?"

    "I don't know," she says. "I'll let the manager know you called."

    Lo and behold, last night, the manager calls.

    "Is there a problem with your car, sir?" he asks.

    "No, I don't have a car from you," I respond.

    "Then why did you call?" he asks.

    "Just humoring myself," I say.

    I remind him I sent several e-mails, more than several calls to get a car from his dealership.

    Now he's intrigued.

    But now I tell him, "I'm not."

    "When can you come in?" he asks.

    "Never," I say. "Is never good for you?"

    Now he's confused. "Exactly when is never?" he asks.

    This time, I hang up.

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