We frequently get asked why our service is valuable because, "Can't I just do it myself?" Here is a three parts series on why Yes, you can but No, you shouldn't. What follows is a fictionalized account of what your experience will be like, inspired by true events.
So you’re looking for your next classic. You know exactly what you want. You peruse Autoscout 24 and there it is, your dream car: a 1962 Renault R2087 Torpedo 4x4. The price is right. Only €7000 and it’s yours. Chips, you say to yourself.
You get on Craigslist and see that importers have the audacity to charge between $14,000-$17,000 for the exact same car in the US. A crime, you think. Suddenly, an idea pops into head: I could go over to Europe, have a vacation, and bring the car over myself for way less than these capitalist crazies are charging. How hard could it be?"
So you pull the trigger and buy a $1500 roundtrip ticket. A few weeks later, you land in Vienna with cash in your account, ready to go see that Renault Torpedo you’ve had your eye on.
First, you check that it’s still there. You’ve been emailing the owner in the weeks before your arrival, and you have been lucky that he's given you the time of day. If some person from Austria emailed you about your 1990 Toyota Corolla for sale for $3000 on Craigslist of Des Moines, would you take him seriously? So you're lucky. But there’s no way he was actually going to hold it for an American claiming they are on their way over. You give him a call and by the grace of God, it is still for sale. But then you realize that the only reason the seller was communicating so well over email was because you installed that Google translate app. But guess what? Google translate doesn’t have your back on a phone call. So you end up wasting a day being jet-lagged and eating very expensive schnitzel. Better find somewhere to stay for the night. That $1500 plane ticket turns into $1800, between the rental car (oh, you don't have an international driver's license? 40 extra euros per day), parking, gas (they pay how much for a liter?), getting lost (there goes two liters), expensive pastries you couldn’t resist, those stupid fees for using a toilet, and finding a decently priced hotel that doesn’t look like it’s been through WWII recently and/or where you'd be sharing a room with four New Zealanders. Oh yeah, and that $7/minute cell phone call you made to make sure the car is still for sale and all the data you used trying to find everything. If you were smart you would have already unlocked your phone and just bought a new sim card, but you forgot so you take AT&T’s consolation price of $5 a minute and 50 cents per kilobyte. Yes, kilobyte. That’s a thousand times smaller than a megabyte. Chump change in the world of technology. Aug wiedersehen, sweet dreams.
You call again first thing in the morning to make sure the car hasn’t sold because he still refuses to hold it for you, even though you're here. You look up directions to the town where the car is located and start heading that way. You were smart, you screen shotted directions and turned off your data so it doesn’t keep updating and killing your wallet and battery. But after driving for awhile, wondering why there are no signs, taking at least five questionable turns onto smaller and smaller roads, and finally ending up on a dirt road with chickens everywhere, you realize that Google Maps only has a vague grasp of Europe and you’re still about 5 km away. You ask six or seven Hanses for directions, but because you ever so slightly mispronounce the street name, they look at you like you're a complete idiot. You begin to wonder why no one smiles or asks you how you're doing. You buy a €12 pastry to cheer yourself up. Finally you find your way to the address. But no one is there. In fact, not only is no one there, but “there” is literally just a barn in a field. Frantic, you try calling the owner of the car, but there no answer of course because why would he be bothered to answer the phone midday when he knows you’re coming? So you grit your teeth, turn that data back on, and look for the closest coffee shop to sit while you wait for your call to be returned.
You should probably consider a hotel near by at this point and just eat the cost of the other hotel you already booked for the night back in Vienna, as it’s getting late and you’re still waiting to hear back. An hour and a half later, he finally answers, explaining that he was busy today, busy even though you had scheduled a time, but again the language barrier is tough so you’re really not even sure if he’s in the wrong or you are. But you’re in luck, the owner is willing to show you the car tomorow between 10am and 11am. So you get that hotel and now you’re up to $2400.
You wake up feeling really excited, load up on coffee and gas station sandwiches, and head over to finally meet Hans, the owner, who leads you into the deserted barn where you see your Torpedo suspended above you on a very sketchy homemade lift. Hans explains that this is the “winter position” and he has no intentions of dropping it unless cash is exchanged. You start going on about how in America this wouldn’t fly and you have to test drive the car before buying it, because there’s no way you came all the way to Austria just to see a Renault’s undersides. He counters that it takes four men to lower the car and his brother Fritz is on holiday in France and his father’s back can’t handle the stress and besides that, Nein, he doesn't feel like you really even need to see it on the ground. You leave in a huff, feeling like you’ve wasted the day and maybe even your trip at this point, but by this time it’s dark and the thought of going back to Vienna is too much so you stay a night in the town again.