Piet is my friend Hendrik’s brother in law, and he wants a new car. Actually, he’s wanted a new car for a few years now. His business partner bought one. Only these are tough times for businesses and if you’re in business, you know that there’s one thing you need: a backup. That is to say, lots of cash to cover the dry periods. Just as an aside, if you hear someone talk about needing this, you know they’re in a commodity market and they don’t have any leverage over their competitors.
All they have is price.
But that’s why we have a recession: too many people think like this. Oh, and the banks, whilst clever, were only clever enough to save their own backsides… so our backsides got tanned instead. Which only made things worse.
Anyway, Piet wants a new motorcar, and that is really what this post is all about. He wants to fly to Leipzig to pick up a brand new Porsche Panamera. It has to come from Leipzig, not just because of the saving in price and taxes, going to the factory means only one thing. The thing is new. Because he knows that it’ll look new and everybody that needs to know will know that it is new. That is to say, his business partner will know that Piet has a newer car than he has. One-upmanship and commodity dealing go hand in hand… along with all the attendant problems.
Now Gemma, will you please shut up about the commodity business, you sound like a broken record. Okay: so how many times do I have to hear the self-same excuses from practically every businessman I meet??? All of whom are staring at slumped profits? Is it any wonder that I bang on about it when businessmen speak of nothing else. It’s not a if they’re interested in art, is it? Or philosophy.
Back to business: Piet doesn’t need to think about a new car any more than he thinks about his business. The business practically runs itself – well, at least, it runs itself in the good times – and so he doesn’t have to think about it. He just needs to wait.
Which is the problem!
He doesn’t have a hundred grand to spare, so he has to wait for his new car! And I’m sure it rankles.
But wait a moment. The only person who know it’s new will be his business partner. What’s more, he’ll only know it’s new because Piet was away for a few days and turned up with what he calls a new car. It’s not as if you’d actually be able to distinguish this new car from one that is say, three years old. Oh, and is affordable given what Piet has. Same machine, same colour, no dents, good maintenance record. It’ll also have been run in and all the niggly bits of having a new car will have been dealt with two years ago. It’s also a damn sight cheaper. Right now, there’s one in Sindelfingen in Germany for €59.600 and it’s only got 50k on the clock.
That’s half price.
There’s another one in Gronau for much the same price, and that’s just a hop across the border from Enschede.
What’s more, he’ll arrive back in Holland with a classy Zollkennzeichen from Germany. Actually, it’s called an Ausführkennzeichen these days. Gem, do please try to keep up to speed. It’s what this post is all about! Anyway, this way, nobody will know if it’s new or not. Not that a Dutch person would know a Zollkennzeichen if they rubbed their nose on it: they only know their own because they’re yellow and the Belgians and the Germans have white ones. None of my friends know which is the new style of Dutch licence plate and which not. The police have a good idea, but that’s their job, innit?
By the time he’s paid some import duties and had the technical examination on the vehicle, he can apply for a licence plate. Actually, in Holland, you get a new plate, even if the car’s ten years old and looks like it’s been left in the rain for most of that time. So he gets his new plate – not that he knows what it looks like anyway. His decision isn’t being driven by rational thinking, is it?
Because for him, it’s important that the car is new. It’s a matter of pride, of him showing others that he’s better than they are. That he has the money to buy a new car. Well, on the business account, anyway. It’ll actually be owned by the business… but who cares? It’s his. Bought for him, earned by him. And as such, it has to be new. NEW.
What don’t you understand about the word ‘new’, Gemma? Please, you’re driving me nuts with your ignorance. It HAS to be NEW.(1)
Even if it loses him thirty grand as soon as he rolls off the forecourt.
It’s not his money, it’s the business’ money. What he has is prestige. Prestige that cost him thirty thousand in the space of thirty seconds.
Okay, so I’ll rephrase that: he has the illusion of prestige. Prestige he could buy at half the price with a motorcar that would depreciate far more slowly.
Now if he had brains, he’d buy a classic Porsche – the kind of thing that hugs the road and has the feel of a real sportscar. An ancient 911 would be a good investment. Even with a few grand pumped into restoring it, the car would hold its value if not actually accrue it. He’d also have some classic street cred, what with older cars still being allowed to carry the old blue plates.
Quite what his business partner would think of that kind of waste is anyone’s guess.
(1) Talking to yourself is a sure sign that I have bipolar. See my last post if you don’t believe me.