I’m not usually one to post reviews (good or bad), but in this case, I was totally floored by the great service given to me by Mike Balin at Steve Thomas BMW that I just have to tell everyone about it. Bear with me as it might be a little long, so if you want the Cliff note’s version, just scroll to the bottom.
I’ve been in the market for an E92 for a good 5 months now, and I’m one of those types that is really a CA’s worse nightmare. Not that I’m an ass or rude or anything, but I’m the type that does all the research and negotiates and haggles for every penny (I’m Chinese, I can’t help it!), and I won’t bite until I find that perfect deal. Now, some of you might say that I just waste people’s time by doing this, but hey, it’s my hard earned money, and I WILL play the game.
I literally have talked to every single BMW dealership in the Bay Area, as well as the majority of dealerships in and around LA, and none of them could give me a price I was happy with. Compound this by the fact that I’m actually a Canadian citizen (currently working in California) looking to take the car out of the country, and no one would budge on prices. Maybe a little bit here and there, but the prices were still not that great. Thanks to all the information provided by the community here as well as other internet sources, I know what I would be comfortable with!
Here comes Mike:
I’ve been watching the prices on E92s for a while, and I noticed Steve Thomas had a car up on their site that had good miles, all the packages I wanted, and the ideal color combination as well. I called them up fully expecting to have to spend a good 10-15min playing the game and hearing the same spew over and over again…but I have to say, I was actually quite surprised.
As soon as I got Mike on the phone, I could tell that he was a standup guy. Honest, polite, and no pressure. He didn’t give me the back and forth bullshit, constantly deferring back to his manager, etc. He actually listened to what I wanted…not in terms of what options or color, but really listened! He understood I was looking for a good deal, I was a serious buyer, and I was ready to buy right away. The first car we looked at was a CPO and had a repaint done on the front bumper. I couldn’t have known this and it looked perfectly fine, and I really would have been none the wiser, but Mike voluntarily told me this without me having to pry at all. I did end up passing on that car, but we quickly found another one that I originally thought was totally out of my price range. I thought, “no way they would come down to my price range for this one!”. Mike asked me what I would be comfortable at, so I gave him a lower number fully expecting to have to negotiate upwards to my comfort level, and he went off to talk to his manager. A few minutes later, Mike comes back and says “Good news…I can give it to you for even lower than that!” Needless to say I was really surprised…I was fully expecting to battle it out and play the game, but Mike came back to me with a straight up, no bullshit price. I was sold!
Unfortunately, California law stipulates that I must pay the sales tax on any vehicles purchased in the state and driven on California roads…even if the use of the roads was to remove the car from the state. Shitty, for sure! By this time, Mike had already spent a good deal of time getting me all the paper work and making everything was in order, and I really wanted the car, so we both tried to determine other ways of me getting the car without having to pay the state tax. Unfortunately, the only other viable option was for me to ship the car to Canada or out of state, but this couldn’t work for me, so I unfortunately needed to pass on the deal
I really wanted to give Mike my money, and he certainly deserved it, but I really couldn’t justify the premium I would have had to pay with the state tax and/or shipping.
Here comes Mike…again!
So, I end up finding a 1 series up in Seattle that I really liked, and went ahead with that. However, this was from a non-BMW dealership, and they weren’t able to get me the Clearance Recall Letter or Warranty Vehicle Inquiry I needed to export the vehicle! None of the BMW dealerships in the area would give it, so I was effectively stuck with a car I was ready to buy, but wouldn’t be able to take it with me! I tried calling dealers again to get the documents, and the dealership I was buying the car from tried as well, but none of us could do it. Frustrated and disappointed, I couldn’t think of what to do. Until I thought of Mike.
I didn’t know if Mike would be willing to help me out, especially since he already spent time working on a deal that didn’t go through, but I thought I could always ask. So I call him up, explain him the situation…and guess what? He helped me out
Now THAT, is really, really awesome. Even though I didn’t end up buying a car from Mike, he still came through for me. Not only did he come through the first time with an awesome price with no bullshit and no haggling, he came through a second time, even after I had to pass up on his offer! How many CAs would be willing to do that??
All in all, working with Mike Balin was one of the best buying experiences EVER. I totally recommend him to anyone in or outside of California in the market for a new or used car to give him a call. He will give you the best price possible, without haggle. No bullshit. He doesn’t pressure you and he actually listens to what your needs are, and he will get you the best price out there.
I am going to recommend everyone I know looking for a BMW to Mike Balin. Especially since the CND/USD is at par, lots of Canadians on the west coast are looking to buy in the US. Since Washington state dealers are in bed with the Canadian dealers on the west coast and won’t release the documents for export, I’m going to tell everyone about Mike.
Bottom line: Talk to Mike Balin @ Steve Thomas BMW if you want a no bullshit, easy, great price buying experience!
Feel free to PM me for his contact information.