For the past week I’ve been trying to please myself my first new vehicle in six years. I wanted to update my motorcycle fleet with an Indian FTR 1200. But after working with two local dealerships, all I got was a 70 point credit and five days of lost time.
As you all know by now, I’m always looking for my next dream vehicle. Since joining Jalopnik, I have obtained a number of vehicles that I once thought were impossible to obtain. I now have one Volkswagen Touareg V10 TDIa GM (Nova) RTS busa first-generation Audi TT, a Honda Beat, Suzuki Every and the incredible Smart Fortwo diesel. But I kind of ignored my motorcycle dreams.
At the top of my pile of dream bikes are the Buell Lightning, Suzuki RE-5, Honda CBX and Indian FTR. I started it by getting a Lightning, then last week I decided an FTR should join it.
I’ve been in love with the FTR since its release. It’s a machine that our Bradley Brownell describe like ride better than it looks, and it looks stunning. And it would easily be the most modern vehicle in my fleet.
I could have gotten any used FTR from Facebook, but decided to buy a new one. A fresh-from-the-factory 2022 FTR 1200 Championship Edition seemed like a really good idea. Its red trellis frame and wheels drew me like a mosquito to a porch light.
The adventure began on Tuesday when my fiancée, Sheryl, drove me to the local Indian dealership. On its floor was a single FTR 1200 in the basic version. I was able to put a few miles on the new odometer and I couldn’t help but smile. Even this base model was everything I thought it would be. It reminded me of my Buell, but with the decade-newer technology, more power and just as much agility. When I returned to the dealership, we were given the right to order a Championship Edition.
Now I admit my credit isn’t the best. In the past, close relatives used my credit for things they didn’t pay for (including a house) and I’ve since recovered. Tuesday was pretty average. At the time, I was only disappointed that I would have to wait until July for my new bike.
The first sign that it was going to be a long week was when the dealership’s CFO came out and told us their systems were down. We had to go home and wait.
I got a response just before closing time and the dealership finally removed my credit. The manager felt that before submitting it to their lender, I should have a co-signer, just in case. Sheryl was happy to lend a hand.
We heard again Wednesday morning, and the finance manager on the other end of the call was frustrated with himself. So he explained that Sheryl’s freelance work and lack of active accounts actually made things worse for me. I was better off on my own, but he’s already cut ties with their lender.
With that in mind, we tried another dealership. This one was a Chicago area Harley-Davidson dealership and it proudly advertised guaranteed credit approvals. It didn’t matter as much to me as the fact that the dealer was sitting on a 2019 Indian FTR 1200 S with that phenomenal red frame and less than 800 miles.
Bradley recommended this one over a 2022, and I was in love. And this time, I wasn’t going to use Sheryl as a co-signatory.
Things were going pretty well at first. It took the dealer all day, but his CFO finally called and informed me that he had gotten me an approval. But he was not a fan of the interest rate. He also suggested a co-signer, but said it would be different from the last dealership. If Sheryl didn’t improve anything, we could use the previous approval no problem. And my credit wouldn’t be supposed to be withdrawn anymore, so I had nothing to lose.
Coincidentally, right after Sheryl submitted her application, the dealer told us that he had lost his internet connection, so his application could not be submitted. Well, the wind gusts on Wednesday were as high as 60 mph, so that made sense to us. But that was just the beginning of a long and confusing process.
On Thursday morning, the dealership reported that his firewall was down and he still had no internet. We called back late that day and by then the internet was back, but there was another curve. The dealership was now saying they had no record of my previous approved application, Sheryl’s submitted application, or any contact. They wondered if I was even calling the right place.
Eventually the person on the other end of the line found someone who remembered calling us earlier and they decided to figure out what had happened, promising to call back in a few minutes. The dealership promised to call back within minutes, but never returned a single call.
When Friday rolled around, the dealership still claimed he had nothing on me.
Stunned, we decided to show up at the dealership in person on Saturday. This time there were no internet problems, but they still couldn’t find our files. The CFO asked us to fill out applications so they could run our credit again. He promised that he could run our credit as many times as he needed in a short period of time and my credit would not go down. I was skeptical, but damn it, the dealership had “100% approved credit,” right?
Three hours later, the CFO approached us with a rejection letter. Now, we’ve read the terms and conditions of the dealer’s so-called “credit guarantee” and we’ve each exceeded them by wide margins. What about that approval I got on Wednesday? The dealer said he doesn’t know what happened there.
We returned home having lost most of Saturday. And not only did I not leave with a motorcycle, but I came home with a 70 point lower credit score. Sheryl lost 80 points. Based on the times of each firm credit withdrawal, the first dealer responded to their refusal by withdrawing our credit. And the second dealer pulled our credit on eight times in the same day. So much for that promise. I facepalming myself to even consider this idea.
The FTR dream is not yet dead. I’m just going to do what I’ve done for the past six years and continue to pay cash for my vehicles. And at least between the five days of waiting, I managed to find a free place in a rider training course for Sheryl. She is going to learn to ride a horse!