Why don't you go window shopping for a car, not on a shop, so you can go through the process and have it not be so scary? Just go to one and kick tires, find out about the new bells and whistles they come with these days so you'll be familiar with them and also have some idea of what a salesperson should be talking about so you'll recognize if he doesn't.
Have a friend take you and leave the credit cards, checkbook, and driver's license at home so you can't be tempted by a sales pitch.
But do it at a place you will never shop, not the one you might shop. They remember.
The schedulers as of late of more than just a few, MS companies seem to be extremely lazy in posting shops. It appears that the 'area around 25-50 miles' of the ZIP code for the shop is rarely adhered to hence I am bombarded with WAAAY out-of-area shops.
If I was travelling - whether out-of-town or out-of-state, I would seek the parameters of shops in that location. However, I'm in CA - no where near TX or WA or most any other place. When using SASSIE, the prompt is, "shops in 12345 ZIP code or shops with 25 miles of 12345.
My second 'concern' is the MS Companies that post a shop with no information 'up-front'. I am to logon to the MS website, to determine if I'm eligible, if the shop is in my area, etc. consequently, I do not open the link to their website. I consider MY time valuable and, although I live in a small area of CA, and shops are less plentiful (as opposed to a metro area), I feel it rude (and lazy) to not be up-front with the request. Just say, auto shop in Timbuktu!
One more thing - there are many Chinese Gourmet/Sansei shops posted by a particular MS company that only reimburse and do not pay a shop fee. The shop itself is about $10 in reimbursement. Again, MY time is valuable. Why would I take a shop for no pay?
Does anyone actually do the 'test drive' shops? As a former car salesperson, I can tell you it's a terrible waste of the salesperson's time - and, if the salesperson is any good, you'll have a difficult time NOT purchasing the product. I rarely let an "UP" (new person on the lot) walk away with nothing.