Rants & Raves

Earthquake madness

We were awoken last night by the 8.8 earthquake that hit chile. We ran to our children’s rooms after we realized it was not the usual 10 sec shaker which is so common here given the subduction zone of the pacific and continental plate here which among other things produces the Andean mountain range with dozens of sub 20,000 ft peeks. We huddled under the doorways with a kid each in hand. Thankfully our house survived structually, although we could hear shattering glass throughout the house. It seemed to go on forever, reports say 90 secs but if you told me it was 5 minutes I would believe you.

Afterwards we gathered outside in the yard with Tata Emilio who is with us. We managed to get back to sleep eventually and rode out the aftershocks which were impressive unto themselves and super frequent, just had a biggish one again a good 9 hours later.

Our house suffered some damage including lots of blown out shelves, smashed tv, some shattered windows, 18 inches of the pool water level tossed out, etc etc but nothing important, we are thrilled to be safe and to learn that all of our immediate family is as well. However we got news of an immediate horrifying tragedy in our extended family involving loss of life of young children, a visceral reminder of the seriousness of the situation and i’m sure of similar news that will be affecting many folks here and where tsunami lands.

Thankyou to all ofour friends and family that have written with concern and well wishes, we will update more when can, for now we have no phoneor electric or water and cell phone battery is almost dead. Prayers to all those affected. Much love, forest and Cristina and the boys.

Rants & Raves

Buying a car in Chile–why Latins get called “Lazy”

So i’m trying to buy a car in Chile, and i’m running head on yet again into some of the basic cultural differences between the hyper efficient commercial society of the USA and China (in this regard, China is really on the same page as the USA), and the much more casual and laid back experience of commerce here in Chile.  Here are some maddening and frustrating examples of where my expectations are not in alignment with the society:

  • Closed on Sundays.  Sure, that might be a day when car buyers might flock to showrooms in the USA, but apparently here neither buyers nor sellers want to be bothered on the day God told everyone to relax.  Too bad for me and my family, who drove into town in hopes of taking a look at some cars.
  • Closed at lunch!  Yep, you heard right, at lunch time, the sales guys are all “out to lunch” so to speak, so my phone call to the Audi, Volkswagon, Subaru, and Mini dealers were all in vain.  At least the VW guys answered the phone and told me “sorry, we’re at lunch”, where as the other dealers the phone just rang, and rang, and rang… amazing!  They don’t even have their crap together enough to put a answering machine on the line so they can capture the lead!  When are car buyers supposed to go shopping if not at lunch during the work week, or Sunday on the weekend!  lol
  • Not really interested in negotiating!  So i get a quote for $19m pesos for a Subaru Impreza WRX (about 35% more than the USA), which is fine, so i think “well, i’ll do some comparison shopping and see what the other dealers in town say?”  So i call another dealer, and he tells me he doesn’t have the car in stock, and that he can offer me the same price.  I say, hey, the other dealer has the car, i test drove, and that’s the price he’s giving me, to which he said “ok”.  The guy had zero interest in talking to me about making a deal… this flies in the face of every single ounce of capitalist/commerce instincts that are born into us in the USA.  He didn’t even try to tell me that he could (a) make a better price, (b) offer better service, (c) get me a color or features that I might want more, (d) offer to be friendlier or anything else he could make up.  Nothing… he just said, “ok”.  And that was it.  There’s no real competition here, there is basically a monopoly in every industry, so the Subaru dealer brings X cars to the country each year, and all are sold at good margin, so there’s no incentive to compete with eachother… nasty stuff!