Buying a Car, the Maximizer Way

By | December 30, 2009

This was the most stressful purchase I have ever made.  Buying a house was nothing in comparison.  My jaw is aching…throbbing.  Hopefully, it will subside now that the battle is over.

Why was this purchase so stressful?  Because we tried to Maximize vs. Satisfice.  Read The Paradox of Choice for more detail.  Basically, in my first few days of looking, I saw the Cube and said to Katie, “I am going to lease this.”  (Satisficing is getting the first “good” option) She argued with me, so we ended up Maximizing instead (looking at every option).  I am not saying I blame her for my jaw hurting.  I am saying that Maximizing sucks.

In the end, we bought (not leased) a new (not used) 2009 (not 2010) Nissan (not Toyota) Altima (Not Cube) Hybrid (not regular) with leather seats (not cloth) and a 7 year warranty (not 5).

In the end it went down like this:

Nissan Cube. I sat in it and felt comfortable.  I felt at home.  It wasn’t a great car, in fact it was cheap and flimsy.  But it was cute and I liked the visibility and spaciousness.  The color was black, not my favorite, but whatever.

Nissan Altima Hybrid.  This was a much nicer car.  Leather, lots of buttons, bluetooth, etc.  I sat in it and felt sort of like I was sitting in someone else’s car.  Like when I sit in one of my mother’s cars. (She drives well).   It was a hybrid and Katie and I both believe in eco-friendly purchasing.

So the Altima was more more money, but had more benefits like federal tax credits and special money back.  Probably the Altima would hold its value better over the long term as well.  When we boiled it down, it looked like they would be (over the course of 6-10 years) roughly the same cost to us, especially if we sold it down the road.

So the question became: If they cost the same, which car would we take?  Although I loved the Cube’s feel, the Altima was objectively and significantly a better car.  I thought it 60% nicer.  We took it.

This raises an important UX point:  I literally was wrestling with a cheap flimsy car versus a nice fancy car only because the cheap car was more fun.  That is critical.  Fun can increase the perceived value of your product or service significantly.  In this case, it made the Cube 50% more valuable to me.  If the Altima was only 40% nicer than the Cube, we would have purchased the Cube instead.

The role of design in an organization should be to add fun/wow/awesome to the product or service.  They are increasing value of the product.  We don’t test this enough or talk about it enough.  This stuff has real economic benefit.

Now that the purchase is done, I want to hate the Cube because I am not going to have it.  Boo Cube!  Black was a stupid color.  Flimsy!  Hopefully, if I say this enough, I will start to believe it.  Hopefully, I will learn to love the Altima.  I have only driven it a tiny bit, but I will do a more specific review later, when I have a picture.

2 thoughts on “Buying a Car, the Maximizer Way

  1. Your wife

    It’s ok to feel “ok” about the one that got away, or the choice you didn’t like. Aesop’s Sour Grapes is a cautionary tale, not a model of good beneficial behavior. It was funny we saw a brand new Cube from the same dealer parked next to your car at your work yesterday! Someone in you building made a different choice!

    Reply
  2. Rob

    The far less stressful way. Shop for cars online and use the services of a car leasing company to get you the best possible deal. I’ve leased about three different cars this way, and always ended up paying less and spending less time stressing and worrying.

    Reply

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