December 21, 2014

Cherished plate transfers can be a nightmare for dealers

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Cherished number plate transfers are becoming a major issue in the motor trade, as more and more people switch on to the idea of a personal plate the situation looks set to become even harder. Buying a cherished plate for your new car is nowhere near as costly as once it was, you could get a plate now for as little as £200 and the idea appeals to many drivers not least because it masks the true age of the vehicle which, for some proud people, ensures that they look like they have a ‘lot of flash’ when really the car could be 5 years old.

However, as more drivers own personal plates the admin for the transfer’s increases. For example at present most dealerships at any given time could have several customers in the throes of buying new cars onto which they would like to transfer their personal number plates, especially with premium brand cars. This means that it is not as simple as registering the car, sending the paperwork and the customer waiting for the new V5 to pop through the letterbox, it is more complex and time consuming and for the car dealers it presents problems which are proving costly.

Once the process of transferring a number plate starts, the existing car traded in by the customer needs to be issued with another plate. Usually this is the plates it was originally issued with but sometimes it is new registration. Until this happens and a new V5 is processed it becomes very difficult for a dealer to move the car on without the car losing value (taking a book drop). This is because the new V5 goes back to the original owner and is then out of the control of the dealer who must wait and hope for the owner to send on the V5.

This can often typically take up to 6 weeks during peak times and, as we know with an asset which depreciates monthly, this delay is causing the business to lose £000s in unnecessary depreciation. Dealers cannot sell the car on without the replacement V5, or rather they can but at much less than if the paperwork is all present and correct.

Some smart dealers have started to take control of the situation by coming up with measures to combat this such as when completing the paperwork putting the customer’s name in the box but with c/o the dealership in the address thus ensuring that the V5 comes direct to the dealer but not increasing the number of keepers which again potentially devalues the car. In addition some are taking a £500 holding fee which is returned to the customer as soon as they return the V5.

These measures are unfortunately necessary but perhaps not very customer centric, and in terms of speeding the process up not necessarily effective. Unfortunately there isn’t a magic bullet or a set procedure in place that specifically covers dealers or motor traders with regards to cherished transfers. The challenges highlighted are very real and some dealers are outsourcing the more complex transfers to number plate dealers with specialist industry knowledge.

If a dealer is supplying a brand new car for a customer who has a cherished number plate on their part exchange vehicle, ask the customer to retain the cherished registration in advance of the handover.

If DVLA is hitting their self-imposed targets, the customer should have the replacement V5 and V778 Retention Document within three to four weeks. This time frame would normally fit in with the supply of a new car.

The customer gives the dealer the V5 and the reprinted tax disc showing the age-related registration for the part exchange vehicle. The car can then be disposed of without any additional delays. The V778 Retention Document can be submitted to the DVLA with the V55 and the customer’s car is first registered with their cherished registration.

If a motor trader is supplying a pre-registered or pre-owned car the cherished transfer application will have to be passed to a DVLA Local Office with form V317. The V5C/3 ‘yellow slip’ should not be completed at this stage. Not only could the transfer delay result in the trader working on next month’s book valuation, they would also not receive a replacement V5 either. Remember a replacement V5 is not issued when the vehicle goes ‘in trade’ at the cherished transfer stage. The new keeper would have to apply for a V5 via form V62 and there is a £25 fee to pay.

The best solution as the rules stand is to change the keeper address on the part exchange vehicle so that the replacement V5 comes straight to the motor trader. It is definitely worth a trip in person to the DVLA Local Office to ensure the application is correct when submitted. The last thing any trader wants is to wait a week or two to find out that a signature is missing on the application. Again if everything is going to plan all documents should be processed within three to four weeks by DVLA.

To try and resolve this ongoing situation it would make sense for the RMIF to raise the issue with the DVLA. There may be a better alternative which could be introduced specifically for the motor trade in relation to cherished transfers. It may take time to push through the changes but if the end result meant traders not losing out due to the time delays involved with cherished transfers, it would definitely be worthwhile.

Thanks to James Saperia for helping with this article. Follow James on Google+


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