March 27, 2020 · 4 min read

Bartering is an option

Nearly 15 years ago I attempted to buy a used car thinking it would be a quick trip to setup a monthly payment and walk out with an inexpensive car that might last me a couple years. Instead, I ended up walking out with a gentleman’s agreement for website design in exchange for a car that lasted me nearly 10 years.

I had driven by this one particular used car dealership a countless numbers of times over the years and paid no attention to it. When I was looking to get a second car, I kept my eye open for anything on the side of the road, when I spotted an inexpensive aging car in it’s lot and decided to stop in.

Without any planning, or cash in hand, I walked in to see what I might need to put down to walk out of there with it in my possession. It was a small place with 20 cars tops. The guy that owned the place was also the salesman, a really nice guy, probably my dad’s age, running a mom and pop business. He was charming and straight shooting and I was sold on the car pretty quickly - he was clearly good at his job.

Like any good salesperson, he asked about me and what I did for a living. When I told him that I made websites, he was determined to pick my brain about what it would take for him and his business to finally embrace some digital presence and get online after procrastinating for years. I was more than willing to share my knowledge. Then we moved on.

When it came time to discuss the paperwork and down payment, he hesitated as if he didn’t want to sell it to me - he wanted to talk more about how I might be able to help him out on his website. In all honesty, I wasn’t really interested in taking on any more freelance work at the time, my life seemed pretty hectic. When he, very straight forward, asked if I would work on a new site for him, I politely declined. I even offered up a bit of advice - I bet I could help find him a college age student that would work on it without breaking his budget.

This is not the car that I got but it is something I would like to eventually have sitting on my lawn

That was exactly what he wanted to hear, I guess. His reply to me declining was “well that’s exactly why I want you to do it”. I guess he liked my honesty and put down the pen on the paperwork to propose that we barter for the car.

I’m pretty sure I audibly chuckled.

I can’t say I’d ever bartered for anything other than brown bag food with my classmates in elementary school. Was he seriously saying I could just make him a website, something I do in my sleep, for the car? I guess it was as mutually beneficial as could be because it took less than five minutes for me to talk through with him what I would expect out of him and what I would deliver. He stopped the paperwork and moved on to the temporary tags and getting me out the door with the car.

I walked out of there with no contract, just a gentleman’s agreement. Over the next 6 weeks I helped his business get online and setup to take online inquiries and list new vehicles. I’m glad to say that it couldn’t have gone more smoothly, something that always worries me about new clients.

Who would have known that car lasted nearly 10 years, but now I happen to need a new car and I know where I’ll be headed.

I can’t wait to see if they need any updates to their site.

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