Unfortunately, when some people think of the term ‘car trader’ an image enters their minds of a pushy salesman who tries to offload a sub-standard vehicle for an unfair price. The fact of the matter is that there are numerous car traders out there who work hard to provide their customers with the best price for a good value vehicle, however the rogue traders tend to ruin it for all of them.
The fact that more people are now looking to invest in a second hand car instead of new has also highlighted the issue of rogue traders selling on vehicles that are not fit for use. This is why the government has recently introduced a scheme reminding buyers to be careful when investing in a second hand car. The scheme – named ‘Check it, Don’t Regret it’ – is aimed to reduce the amount of people who fail to properly check that the car they are buying is legal, safe, and more importantly, what they are expecting.
A number of local authorities have already adopted the scheme including Cheshire East Council, whose cabinet member in charge of communities and regulatory services, Councillor Les Gilbert, said: “Buying a used car should never be a lottery and this campaign is about showing people the various ways that they can be certain that the vehicle they are buying is safe and reliable. As well as the various background checks, there is also a common-sense check that every buyer should make – by test driving the car and physically inspecting it. Our message is ‘check it, don’t regret it’.”
This is not the first time that buyers have been warned to check the history of a used car before they buy, and there are many companies that have created websites and mobile phone Apps that can check the DVLA database to show whether a second hand car has a hidden history. However, with the demand for second hand cars being so high a number of people seem to forget this integral step in the purchasing process and rush into buying something that may not even be road legal.
So what can car dealers do to ensure that their customers know they can be trusted? Firstly, they can remind them that they are able to check the history of any of the used vehicles on their forecourts using one of the many Apps or websites available. To go even further it is essential that they provide as much paperwork as possible to all customers, including past MOT certificates, service histories, and any information they may have about their vehicles’ previous owners.
Some local authorities have even gone a step further and introduced membership schemes that car traders can join to prove that they adhere to best practices. East Riding Council has recently created the East Yorkshire Motor Trades Partnership with their local Trading Standards authority that if joined requires each member to provide their customers the best service possible. Discussing the partnership, the council’s portfolio holder for community involvement and partnership, Councillor Jackie Cracknell, said: “What we are essentially doing is entering into a partnership with the motor trade to work together to improve the level of service for customers.
“Cars are among the most expensive items that people buy, added to which are the cost of MOTs, services and repairs. It all adds up. And poor service is one of the biggest areas of complaint to the trading standards team.” By joining such a scheme, car dealers may soon see their reputation improving, and could potentially even see an increase in customers who want to make sure that what they buy is what was advertised.
Selling vehicles that have a hidden history or are different to what is advertised could ultimately lead to car traders being inspected by their local Trading Standards authority, having their motor trade insurance policy become void, and even losing their business. This is why it is only the minority that try and cheat the system, and it is up to not only local councils but also car dealers to prove to the public that this is the exception and not the rule.