Coulda been titled “Fear and Loafing at the Implement Dealer”…

After 5 years of semi-serious shopping for a tractor for the not-so-vast Gearhead Grrrl estate, on a coffee fueled late saturday night I finally concluded that 1) Sleep is overrated 2) shoveling out six foot snowdrifts is no longer within my capabilities, heck, a snowblower can’t handle it. 3) Ditto for the 4 by 4 Ranger pickup, which for the first time in it’s life got stuck in the aformentioned six foot drift 4) The tallest snowplow that will fit a Ranger is but three foot high when raised, so good luck blasting through that six foot drift. 5) The formula for determining asking price for a rusty beat up three decade old diesel 4 by 4 tractor is the price of a new one minus one dollar depreciation for each missing fastener and holes in the tin, fuel lines, tires, seat, etc.. So sometime during Austin City Limits I decided I was getting a new tractor, the smallest diesel 4 by 4 I could buy that would tote a front end loader (think snowdrifts) and belly mower (use obvious).

So having slept off that sorta late nighter on sunday, at the crack of noon monday I hit the road to the tractor dealerships, loins girded with printouts of MSRPs from the maker’s webpages, what the state is paying for them off a little known website, and a few other snippets of bargaining data. Plan was to hit at least one dealership of each maker within 50 miles of home whilst enjoying the lovely weather of this summer held over.

First up was a courtesy call at the local New Holland dealer in Tyler, figured I should make an inquiry even though NH has forgotten their Ford heritage and deserted much of the small tractor market. Heck, the parts man even gave me the price quote, with his dad covering when a customer came in to pick up some parts. But while the “ambiance” was down to earth, the “list price” was about 10% higher than on NH’s webpage! Thus the “list price” was inflated to $24,567 and then “discounted” to an offered sale price of $20,000. Now according to NH’s webpage their list should be around $20k, and they’re promising the State of Minnesota and all it’s counties, cities, townships, tribal nations, transit systems, school boards, soil and water control districts, and even the infamous Seven County Misquito Control District 29% off of those list prices, even if they only buy one of the tiniest tractors. That would make the street price of this same reputed $24+k list tractor around $15k, making NH almost competitive. Besides, blue looks better for parades, at least if you’re a democrat.

Thought I’ve give the local Deere mega-dealer another try, ‘specially since their Tyler store was just up the street. Turned out the whole sales department was out to lunch… Amazing how lazy a big mega dealership can get. Headed north through the lovely county roads to the local Branson tractor dealership, which still has the Mahindra sign up and sported a few TYM tractors on the lot to. Got a quote of $17,700 off a similarly inflated list of $23,059, Branson website gave a list price of $18k and change. Given that they’ll switch brands on a whim, crossed this dealership off the list.

On to greater Marshall, first stop the local purveyor of Kubotas, Kesteloot Enterprises, which has something of a rep for being pricey… I balked at the almost $5k they were asking for a three decade old 12HP Ford 1200 with a loader a few years back. They at least played it straight and quoted exactly the list price from Kubota’s website, $13,534 for a BX1870-1 with loader and mower after rebates.  On to the Deere megadealer’s Marshall store, didn’t need to rouse any salespeople as they still had a 1025R with the requisite loader and mower out front, though the price on the sign had dropped from a totally outragous $19k plus to a merely outragous $16,620. They could knock over a thousand off that by substituting the decontented (who needs cruise control on a tractor?) 1023E, but they don’t seem to want to stock that model.

So the best deals are the dealers who at least didn’t try to inflate MSRP to make it look like they were giving a discount… Nice try, but you’re permanently off my shopping list! That leaves me Kubota at $13,534 list, and with the State of Minnesota et al getting 19% off of that, there’s plenty of room for haggling. Deere could be competitive if they weren’t being hobbled by the regional megadealer, list on a 1023E with loader and mower is $16,109 and Deere is giving the state 17% off and there’s rebates too, making them competitive if they and their dealers would try. New Holland, Branson, Mahindra, and TYM… You’re outa here! Gonna try different Deere and Kubota dealers next, and maybe Massey and Yanmar too as they’re a bit far away, along with Kioti.

Hmmm… Maybe I should give an award for the most outragous overpricing scam?