RE: One (of many) careful owner(s)

RE: One (of many) careful owner(s)

Tuesday 9th January

One (of many) careful owner(s)

The ASA is cracking down on the way rental and ex-fleet cars are sold on to an unsuspecting public. It could be worse...



Interesting story going around just now about used car buyers queuing up for 'compo' after they were sold cars labelled as second-hand, when the previous owner was actually a rental firm or other multiple-driver fleet.

Fiat Chrysler and Alfa Romeo got a slap for this from the Advertising Standards Authority last year, but it's believed that hundreds of thousands of buyers could be affected by the scourge of cars previously sat in by dirty, cackling fleet drivers rather than normal human beings. The ASA notes, with due gravitas and not the merest sign of a titter, that cars from these sources "were more likely to have been subjected to wear and tear".

That's as maybe. Some might say, though, that the trade is entitled to get some of its own back. Smart but bent punters are more than capable of matching or outdoing the pros in the jiggery-pokery stakes nowadays, and not just in the motor business either.


According to an ABTA survey just out, plenty of holidaymakers have been approached by claims management companies promising to get them cashola through bogus holiday sickness claims. Those who have successfully followed up on the idea have been raking in average payouts of just over £2,000. Unsuccessful ones have been put in chokey - but of course there are risks in any enterprise.

The point being, it's dog eat dog out there now. It wasn't always so. There has always been roguery in the motor trade, but it used to be a more jovial, quid pro quo sort of thing. In the 1950s the 100mph Club was operating in full swing down London's Park Lane, with guffawing Terry-Thomas types validating each other's membership runs past the Dorchester while fat jolly constables pretended to tie their bootlaces. In the '60s, the outside lane of the M4 echoed to the exotic thrash of Italian valvegear as hipster-wearing trust fund beneficiaries battled through the small hours to crack Heston to Bristol in under an hour.

Those motors would have eventually filtered down to the man in the street. Everybody knew there was as much chance of finding a wodge of scrunched-up newspapers behind the sill of a Daytona as there was behind a Datsun's. You either had to pay more attention while buying or shrug your shoulders and get out the Isopon repair kit for immediate onward sale.

I believe that the solution to dodgy used car sales lies not in nannying the public by protecting them from the evil trade but in giving them a good excuse for making a dozy purchase. And to do that I'd be starting from a very different place: dealership opening times.


Used car experts have always strenuously warned against buying used cars at night. A few years ago, when I was pretending to be such a bod at What Car? magazine, I was paid to pass on this sort of sensible buying advice to readers.

Naturally, I ignored my own advice, buying a used Peugeot 205 diesel after a three-minute 9pm examination on a dimly-lit rainsoaked petrol station forecourt in February. In the harsh light of day, the Peugeot turned out to be very used indeed, a veritable patchwork quilt of mismatched panels. I spent the next several months in a state of frustrated rage, crying into my pillow until I managed to unload the beast onto the next sap.

Things would have been quite different if I could have ambled into a dry, warm, seductively lit and (crucially) drinks-licensed used car showroom at 9pm. Let's face it, worthwhile customers rarely visit car showrooms between the hours of 9am on Monday morning and 5pm on Friday afternoon, when respectable working folk are respectably working, so why bother to open up during the day?

If I had a car showroom, I wouldn't. Much better to work in the evenings, with lightly-sozzled, Uber-delivered customers nicely primed for easy sales of razzed ex-fleet 'secondhand' motors. There is nothing like the feeling of fine cognacs surging around the system to add that vital extra spark of appeal to an otherwise unremarkable Proton. A couple of stiff sherberts before my nocturnal 205 purchase would certainly have equipped me with the vision and courage necessary to tell its vendor where to go.


Here's another idea for my notional drinks-licensed car dealership: warranties would be directly related to how bladdered you are when you sign on the dotted line. If you stay totally sober and buy sensibly, you get the usual warranty backup. If you take the plunge after six pints and end up with the keys to a really smart-looking but suspiciously cheap 5-litre W140 Merc throbbing ominously in your pocket, the warranty period is reduced to ten minutes.

Car salesfolk are supposed to be sharp, but for the price of a late-night mini cab they're surely missing a big trick here. After all, even banks let us get our money in the dark these days. We must defend our right to make stupid car-buying decisions. It's all about freedom. Caveat emptor - and mine's a large one.

Author
Discussion

HardMiles

Original Poster:

119 posts

15 months

Tuesday 9th January
quotequote all
Had a good chuckle reading this, but you're so right. Garages will be open late at night soon, as the normal 9-5 crew can't get into one, hence dodgy online eGay deals etc...

People that don't know about cars, won't ever understand the backstory of one, nor care, so I'm happy for them to scoop up these "bargains" to keep us lot safe! :-)

Cheapskate

71 posts

35 months

Wednesday 10th January
quotequote all
Opening hours of most b2c establishments have always frustrated. Great idea - just so long as I don’t have to live anywhere near the test drive route of a dealership that liquors up potential buyers...

lord trumpton

4,575 posts

55 months

Wednesday 10th January
quotequote all
Was speaking with my neighbour over Christmas (senior bloke in Audi) about the late night stuff.

He seems to think it's very much on it's way. Late night servicing is already being adopted by some dealers and the evening sales is coming too.

Can't say too much but theres a big move to a car site in Trafford park for one car brand that will be developing a large site for this sales route.

Sa Calobra

25,992 posts

140 months

Wednesday 10th January
quotequote all
Good. Why shouldn't a customer be compensated if they have been misled. I've had a V5 withheld at point of purchase and misled on the previous owner. I won't name the large Scottish chain.

Whether you feel ex rental cars are good or bad customers should be able to make an informed decision based on what they want when spending thousands.

I personally don't want an ex rental car.

Buff Mchugelarge

3,245 posts

79 months

Wednesday 10th January
quotequote all
Strange article.
Surely the 9-5 lot just do their car shopping at the weekends?
Almost all <3 year old cars on fourcourts up and down the country are ex rental, ex lease hire, or fleet. I'm sure 95% of their buyers are happy and couldn't care less what it was doing before they bought it. Plenty of brand new cars get a hammering before they're even registered, no one ever cares about that?

ETA: if buyers are being deliberately misled however, then that's very naughty and someone needs time on the naughty step.

Edited by Buff Mchugelarge on Wednesday 10th January 07:34

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Sa Calobra

25,992 posts

140 months

Wednesday 10th January
quotequote all
So your saying people don't buy their Merc on finance.. and finance vehicles arent used to buy new cars by customers then?


Turbobanana

969 posts

130 months

Wednesday 10th January
quotequote all
A contentious article, if ever there was one.

As someone has already stated, most punters couldn't care less who the previous custodian was. When I was in the trade we used to sell shed loads of ex daily rentals, mostly registered to finance companies or the manufacturer / importer. As long as customers were told that they "could" have been ex-rentals they were happy. In any event, they're sold on so quickly that warranties are almost full, or even topped-up back the full 7 years in the case of a Kia (so I've heard).

It's no wonder ex-rentals have a bad reputation: PH is full of gloating stories of hard-driving at the wheel of some quaking, unsuspecting Chevy Spark, Vauxhall Mokka or Kia cee'd and how we "wouldn't drive my own car like that".

I'm sure during the writer's tenure at What Car? he insisted that buyers always took a test drive. How does he propose his inebriated customer base does that within the law?

captain_cynic

1,958 posts

24 months

Wednesday 10th January
quotequote all
Buff Mchugelarge said:
Surely the 9-5 lot just do their car shopping at the weekends?
And spend half an hour or more pissfarting around at a used dealers forecourt waiting for one of the sales team to finish up with the last person they were ripping off*

Some used dealers expect you to make appointments (which to me is pants on head retarded as it gives the used car dealer an opportunity to put fresh sawdust in the gearbox). Even at a new car dealership with an appointment, you usually end up waiting and getting a very apologetic salesperson.

Plus my weekends are my time and I prefer to get all of my errands done during the week so I can enjoy my weekend.

  • Car Salesmen (and women) please put down the torches and pitchforks, this comment is entirely tongue in cheek.

MDMetal

969 posts

77 months

Wednesday 10th January
quotequote all
Ignoring the PH extremes of "I trashed a rental to death and loved it" vs "I service rental myself before I return them" Then yes rentals or fleet cars won't be looked after as much by their drivers, that doesn't mean their trashed and thrashed but just people are a little less careful when it's not their property. By and large those these are cosmetic and you can tell from a good look if the interior looks well used or the exterior is a bit more scuffed. Can you find worse privately owned cars? Of course!

Buy on condition nothing else. I personally don't care about number of owners, unless it's suspiciously high without an explanation then it's all down to condition.

Juno

2,256 posts

178 months

Wednesday 10th January
quotequote all
I think the author of this is treading on very thin ice categorising any fleet driver as a dirty scumbag and not of human decent Quote "sat in by dirty, cackling fleet drivers rather than normal human beings"

Would journalists like to be called " self promoting over hyped fantasising liars that wouldn't tell the truth even if it ran them over" I doubt it!

Anyway back to the cars,IMO its the purchasers choice to buy the car as they see it on an individual basis with regards to price,condition,service history,warranty and other services offered whilst thinking about peace of mind based on sellers credentials.

IMO Without dealers forecourts your current car would have little or no market value leaving your only choice of disposal in the hands of the like of we steel any car at around 35% less than its trade value!


Yipper

5,964 posts

19 months

Wednesday 10th January
quotequote all
Good on the ASA. Car resellers must label them properly. If it is a fleet car, then say so.

keirik

556 posts

72 months

Wednesday 10th January
quotequote all
I suppose it depends in the definition of "fleet"

Swmbo works for a large car manufacturer and has a new fleet car every 3 months, and they get charged for dings and scratches so they're looked after very carefully, so anyone buying gets a practically new car for a low price.

Similarly I once bought a 3 month old ex fleet xtype for about 10 grand under the new price.

You have to be very unlucky to get a car that's been thrashed in that sort of timescale

av185

6,281 posts

56 months

Wednesday 10th January
quotequote all
keirik said:
I suppose it depends in the definition of "fleet"
Often dog eared and thrashed Motability cars are from the UKs biggest fleet but are registered in the users name so tantamount to being privately owned.

Having said that don't forget that the registered keeper is not necessarily the legal owner murking the already muddy waters even further.

How I don't feel sorry for the average thicko UK muppet consumer relying on all that increasingly ott nanny state consumer protection so they can buy their next car blindfolded at night.

sonnenschein3000

450 posts

19 months

Wednesday 10th January
quotequote all
I've had an ex-hire car before that was about a year old, it had done low mileage (like 6,000 miles), was much cheaper than other cars of its age and mileage, no problems whatsoever.

Alex_225

2,599 posts

130 months

Wednesday 10th January
quotequote all
Sa Calobra said:
Whether you feel ex rental cars are good or bad customers should be able to make an informed decision based on what they want when spending thousands.

I personally don't want an ex rental car.
I'm with you on that. I'd want the chance to make the decision to buy an ex-rental car and personally I wouldn't want one. I'd be pretty aggrieved if I found out my pride and joy had been an ex-rental car. Also if people are hit with a lower value going forward because of it, that would seem even less fair.

treeroy

231 posts

14 months

Wednesday 10th January
quotequote all
If the number of owners matters enough to be a requirement on the V5 owners logbook, then it should state whether it was a fleet car. It's definitely misleading to have 1 previous owner if that owner is a company that handed the car around 5 different people.


That being said, the past is in the past right? Maybe we should teach people to actually inspect cars themselves and buy based on condition, rather than assuming low mileage and low number of owners must mean it has been well looked after

JB!

5,028 posts

109 months

Wednesday 10th January
quotequote all
Very surprised more service industries aren't changing business hours to 8:00-20:00 Mon-Fri.

So many people have 8-4/9-5 manufacturing or office jobs, split your staff and get more punters in.

With regard to garages, the main issue is motor factors; 1. Most of them are useless at getting the right part out first time, and 2. They are only open 8-18:00 so getting parts past 16:30 of a weekday is a nightmare.

I've done weekend work before on spanners and you literally end up ordering "all options" and returning the 3/4 that were wrong.

No idea why you'd pay car salesmen to sit around at 10am on a Tuesday...

Turbobanana

969 posts

130 months

Wednesday 10th January
quotequote all
Alex_225 said:
Sa Calobra said:
Whether you feel ex rental cars are good or bad customers should be able to make an informed decision based on what they want when spending thousands.

I personally don't want an ex rental car.
I'm with you on that. I'd want the chance to make the decision to buy an ex-rental car and personally I wouldn't want one. I'd be pretty aggrieved if I found out my pride and joy had been an ex-rental car. Also if people are hit with a lower value going forward because of it, that would seem even less fair.
Are you prepared (and able) to pay for that choice? Many in the market rely on the steady stream of low mileage, ex-rentals priced a bit below new car / ex demo values because someone had a bulk buy-back deal and has already made some money from them. They might not be able to stretch to a new which is, at +/- 6m old, the only viable alternative.

TBH, those on this forum are probably not so much in this market, which is mostly populated by bread-and-butter white goods-type cars, rather than anything interesting. If you were almost in the market for a Ferrari / Lamborghini, would you buy an ex-rental one from one of those high-end rental companies?

Fast Bug

5,773 posts

90 months

Wednesday 10th January
quotequote all
Article said:
affected by the scourge of cars previously sat in by dirty, cackling fleet drivers rather than normal human beings
Really? A chimp with a typewriter could write better articles than the dirty tab smoking free loading journos (as we're stereotyping).

I'd rather have an ex fleet car that's spent it's life up and down the motorway being driven by someone in a suit than a Mum that's done lots of short journeys bouncing up and down kerbs with young kids in the back leaving the car covered in a film of snot and raisins, scuffed wheels, bumpers and McD's wrappers (again as we're stereotyping).

4941cc

25,283 posts

135 months

Wednesday 10th January
quotequote all
av185 said:
keirik said:
I suppose it depends in the definition of "fleet"
Often dog eared and thrashed Motability cars are from the UKs biggest fleet but are registered in the users name so tantamount to being privately owned.
Owned by Motability Operations Ltd. yes. Operated by the disabled person and a second driver for the entire three years, just as a private car is. All maintenance is taken care of by the dealer network for that time too.

Having supplied many cars to Motability customers since 2007 - and seen their return vehicles - generally they look after their cars much better than the average private owner. Partly because they are eligible to receive a £200 good condition bonus upon return and partly because they really appreciate that they have the use of a much nicer and newer vehicle than they otherwise would likely to be able to drive.

Only around 5% have adaptations, many of which are reversible back to standard at return, of course some aren't. The only consistent damage that is different to most private cars are where the driver/passenger is a wheelchair or other mobility aid user and the edge of the bootlid and interior sills can pick up scratches.

Huge difference between a single user/family vehicle like that than an ex-daily rental (one owner, 500 drivers) or ex-company car user - even the latter of those tend to look after their car as their own as they are often liable personally for any end of contract reconditioning costs.

Since the Consumer Protection for Unfair Trading Regulations came in, we as sellers have had a duty of care to disclose any material fact that may influence a person's buying decision - having been a previous multi-user/ex-daily rental vehicle is one such material fact as defined under the category of "Misleading Omissions".

It used to be a case of only disclose it if asked specifically and many places still seem to operate on that basis. They need to change that.