The right dealership experience made the difference for new scooter rider

Elaine Fitzpatrick on her 2009 Yamaha Vino 50. (PHOTO BY DAVID M. FITZPATRICK)


It was the summer of 2011, but I’d already dreamed of owning a scooter for years. I first had that dream when I began watching the TV show Scrubs, when JD got his scooter and named it Sasha. It looked like fun, and it also had the added benefits of getting fresh air and not spending much on gas.

One weekend I decided that I was finally going take the first steps in making my dream a reality. My husband and I got in the car and went off to take a look and see what our options were—not to buy, just to research.

Our first stop was a local motorcycle dealer that also sold scooters. We went in and looked around, and I sat on a couple of different scooters and found one that was comfortable and a reasonable price. Eventually we found a salesperson—we had to find him, since no one seemed very interested in helping us. Naturally, I wanted to take the scooter for a test ride; after all, owning a scooter seemed exciting, but what if it was actually terrifying and I hated it?

But the salesman dropped a bombshell: I couldn’t test ride the scooter. It was the dealership’s policy, he said, one that most stores had. So I had to purchase it without trying it out and hope I liked it. The salesman said the dealership would “usually” do a return if a customer discovered that she didn’t like it. Can you imagine buying a car without ever test driving it? I was amazed. And my husband and I wasted no more time; we were out the door.

Our next stop was Friend & Friend in Orono. We walked in and were greeted promptly and asked if we needed any help. I’d already spotted the scooters and was checking them out, and considering the experience we’d just had, I asked right away if they had any used inventory that I could test ride. They did indeed have used inventory, but told me that if I wanted to test something, they had some brand-new scooters out front that I could try.

I went outside and looked at the new scooters, and by now my heart had begun to race. It was happening—I was going to get to try out a scooter! And I knew immediately the one I wanted, the beauty that had caught my eye right away: a 2009 Yamaha Vino 50, white and tan, almost vintage in the coloring design. She was new, only 4 miles on her. They got me a helmet (a brain bucket, as he jokingly referred to it), went over the ins and outs of starting up and riding the scooter, and I was free to go.

I was still terrified. I rode around the building several times, gaining confidence a little more each time. My biggest fear was falling over, like when you learn to ride a bicycle. There was the added fear of crashing and not having walls around me—or, worse yet, being hit by a car. Eventually I was brave enough that I took it out on the main road. My heart was racing even more by then—this time in fear.

But I did it. I went up the street, drove around a parking lot, and came back. I didn’t go far. I had a healthy respect for the fear of injury and I knew that my confidence wasn’t that strong. Maybe a few more rides around the building would have been a good idea. But regardless, there was no turning back for me.

I was sold. It was so much fun, despite the terror of possible death or dismemberment. I was glad that I got to test ride her, though. It let me know that the idea in my head was not just an idea but that scooters really could be fun.

I went back and we started the paperwork so I could take the scooter home with me. Unfortunately, by time everything was finished, it was too late in the day and I couldn’t get insurance coverage, so I had to leave my beloved new scooter behind. But, no fear: first thing the next day, I got coverage and went and pick her up. In honor of Scrubs, the show that first inspired me, I named her Sasha. Don’t believe me? Just look at her license plate.

In addition to purchasing my scooter that day, the wonderful salespeople at Friend & Friend helped my husband pick out a motorcycle, something he didn’t even know he wanted until he saw it. That’s what happens when you’re friendly and let people test ride first.

Five years later, she’s just as much fun to ride as that first day—only a whole lot less terrifying.

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