Kate and Ben, recently married, delightfully employed, and happy to be on their own after four long years of college, are embarking on a major decision—a happy one, but an important one. They're buying a car. They have some money saved up from the wedding and have decided that, the way the stock market has been going, they'd be better off spending it than losing cash on some risky Internet investment.
Sitting in their living room one Thursday night watching TV, they find that they are tuning in more closely to the car commercials than the sitcoms. “That's a sign we're an old married couple, ” Kate jokes. Ben nods in agreement.
The next day after work, at Kate's request they click onto the Consumer Reports Web site and print out information about compact cars. On Saturday they brave the car dealerships, get the lowdown from car salesmen, and take spins in the cars. Kate, armed with her incredible memory for detail and ten 3X5 cards, hurls questions at the car salesmen, while Ben, shirt hanging out, eyes glazed, looks dreamily at the sports cars he knows he can't afford.
By early the next week, they have narrowed down the choices to a Honda Civic and a Saturn SC. Her desk covered with papers, printouts, and stacks of warranties and brochures from the dealerships, Kate is thinking at a feverish pace; she pauses, then shares her conclusions with her husband.
“Okay, this is it. The Honda gets more miles per gallon and handles great on the highway. But Consumer Reports gives the new Saturn better ratings on safety on account of their four-wheel antilock brakes, and traction control, which is important. The Saturn also has a better repair record than the Civic. But the big thing is we get a stronger warranty with the Saturn dealer and, Ben—the Saturn is a thousand bucks cheaper. Soooo … what do you think?”