Which? report still rankles

I’m not going out on a limb when I say that customers negotiating on buying a new or used car today are in a better position than they have ever been. They have access to much more detailed information and with most dealers advertising the cars on-line there is certainly more transparency in how sales people attempt to sell cars.

The recent which? report on “dodgy” and “dirty tricks” in the motor trade has not only stirred up a bit of a hornets’ nest but is quite clearly, in many cases, well wide of the mark.

Phrases like “high balling” and “ankle tapping” and “time of the month” sound more like some sort of erotica, and after speaking to all our insiders over the last month no one has even heard of these phrases let alone used them.

It appears that whoever wrote this report must have got their info from some kind of old relic and the techniques mentioned would certainly lead to a mass exodus of customers if they were tried on in a modern showroom. But of course it grabs headlines and, let’s face it, we’re still taliking about it but mainly becasue of incredulity and the unjustness of it.

For instance they use the strange term ‘wooden duck’ for a customer that doesn’t haggle. Well any sales manager will tell you that this relates to a proportion of customers so tiny it is not even relevant anymore. Because the business is built on haggling and no matter how cheap a car seems or how happy you are to pay the price, it may just be worth asking for a little more as the worst that can happen is the sales person says no.

In fact if anything the power has shifted completely to the buyer, so much choice, so many dealers, most cars of outstanding quality and everything at their fingertips the buyer can be in control and if they don’t like the deal they can just walk away. Certainly sales people are trained in techniques to try and sell their products, creating desire and building value are good things and if customers have been well qualified why shouldn’t a sales person exert a little pressure if he thinks the car is right and has worked hard to give the customer a great presentation? After all it is how he earns his living.

What kind of techniques would Which? suggest that sales people use? All the time dealers are prepared to listen to offers there will be negotiating and therefore it’s a bit of cat and mouse, why is that such a bad thing? I have had most fun negotiating with customers who have already decided they are buying the car it is just finding the common ground where we both say “OK I am happy with that”.

It doesn’t have to be stressful for anyone, it is simple the car is advertised at one price and the dealer offers you a price for your old car. You then have a cost to change and if you are happy with that you buy the car if not you don’t. If it is more important to you to get the right monthly payment you concentrate on that and if the dealer can take some off the car and give you more for yours to achieve that and can still make a profit, then happy days!

I think publications like Which? who are a very necessary champion for consumer rights may want to update their files when it comes to these issues because they really are things of the past.

There are far more apparently unscrupulous businesses out there at present like banks and gas companies who spuriously put the prices up and charge by stealth, £25 for a bounced cheque? Yeah right, go pick on someone who deserves the negativity, not the car trade which simply wont be an easy target anymore.

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One Response to Which? report still rankles

  1. Carlton @ House Mortgage Rates November 30, 2010 at 8:09 pm #

    I agree, sometimes you just gotta grip it and rip it. Some times the good comes with the bad, but that’s how the cookie crumbles.

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