How Safe Is It Buying A Used Car Unseen Online
Its fair to say that the whole retail landscape has changed hugely since covid-19 hit our shores. Never before in modern times has a Government been forced to close down a whole economy save for essential services. One of the sectors that has been impacted is the retail motor trade. The sector is mixed with the service and repair side deemed to be essential, so allowed to carry on albeit with covid-19 safety meassures in place to protect staff and the public. The vehicle sales side has been deemed to be non essential, which has resulted in showrooms and outside sales areas being closed. Obviously at the start no-one really knew how to cope with going into lockdown, but as weeks turned into months and now almost a year since the first lockdown the industry has adapted to this new normal.
Showrooms haven't dissapeared but certainly as of January 2021 they are out of bounds for people simply turning up and browsing. Another impacted side to buying a used car has been the suspension of allowing for a test drive. This part of a used car transaction is usually the final piece of the transaction before taking the order. So how have these changes inpacted the dealer and buyer?
For those dealers who already operated a delivery service and hosted video reviews of stock plus promoted online customer reviews the change has been smoothly handled. The changes has been quite small. However for others, the transition has been a huge learning curve. And for a few they have yet to make the changes needed to meet the challenges both now and those yet to come.
Every dealer currently should be applying no showroom or forecourt visits, no test drives and sales only via click and collect or click and delivery that have been paid for prior to either taking place. The successful dealers are those who adopted much of what is now allowed years ago into a unique point of sales process. Those dealers are very much used to dealing with distant sales and have all the correct paperwork in place to protect and reassure the buyer. The dealer has embraced the process giving the client all the correct paperwork in real time in the order it was intended, thus protecting the dealers reputation and the buyer from any uncertainty.
So if your dealer is a dealer that hosts online reviews and video reviews of their stock has online part exchange and online finance application although both of these can still be carried out by telephone, you are very likely to have no issues during or after the sale. That dealer will make it perfectly clear to you that your statutory rights of 14 days to return the car for a full refund as part of the distant sales act allows you in effect to a 14 day test drive. There may be some conditions in so far as how you should return the car, either the dealer collects or you have to arrange the return but again the dealer will set out in their terms and conditions just how it works. Including any particular conditions such as damage caused or excess mileage covered inside of the 14 day period whilst the car was in your custody.
So in effect you are perfectly safe if not more safe in buying a car unseen online than visiting a dealer and test driving as after having done so you are not covered by the distant sales act to a 14 day right to return for any reason. I am assuming here in this paragraph that no money has exchanged or paperwork has been exchanged prior to you visiting and test driving the car at the dealership.
So to finish the blog off, here are my few good pieces of advice if you need to buy during a lockdown period. Understand what you can and can not do, so no test driving and no visiting the dealership unless to sign papers and to collect the car. Then this has to be in a safe and covid-19 secured way. Use the distant sales act to notify the dealer of your intention to return or have them collect the car if you aren't going to get on with the car. Make sure that you only buy the car after receiving all of the cars paperwork including service and repair data plus the V5 and the dealers terms and conditions this is carried out through email. Look out online for previous customer reviews about the dealer and if the dealer has produed a video make sure you watch it. Or ask them to produce a video for you. Ask about what type and length of warranty is with the car if the dealer offers more than your satutory rights. Spending time doing these things will help you enormously. Buy safely and buy well in complete confidence knowing that you are protected.
David Bilsborough is an independent motor dealer based in Crewe Cheshire. Cheshire cars established in 1996.