Friday, 28 January 2011

How to ruin the car buying experience

A car (not the one I bought)
I have just bought a car and I hated the experience.

It wasn't for me, it was for one of my daughters. (Of itself, this is just wrong. You shouldn't be buying cars for people whose nappies you have changed.) Now, apart from one disastrous experience that put me off buying privately for life, I have always bought cars from a proper dealership. It's a process in which you feel cherished. I know they're only after your money, but they take it off you very nicely. Unfortunately, dealers don't sell cars of the sort of age I was looking for, so I had to look elsewhere.

Specifically, I looked at the Car Shop, a huge secondhand car 'supermarket' that apparently has over 1,000 cars on site. And that's where I bought the car - but I wish I hadn't.

I didn't mind too much the strange Argos-like operation. You specify the kind of thing you want, the salesman writes it on a card, goes away and comes back with a list of matches. You then sit and wait while the cars you like are brought round to the side of the building so you can take a look at them. It felt odd, but I could cope. However, what I found really unnerving is that they won't licence the car for you.

What I've always done before is got the insurance, take it to the dealer and they sort out the licensing. The way the system works here, you are forced to drive the car away before it is licensed. (They do provide Aviva 7 day insurance, though I'm not sure this is valid if the car isn't licensed.) There is no other way to get a car from them. You have to break the law. Now, I'm the sort of person who will get back in the car and repark if the tyre is touching the white line in a car park. Driving is something I can't do outside the rules. I literally lost sleep over the thought of having to drive the blasted thing home without a licence.

And it gets worse. When I'd decided to go for the car, I went into the usual car buying mode, briefly feeling wonderful at that point. Because car buying is one of the few opportunities British people have to haggle. I'm quite proud of my haggling skills. I was taught by a gypsy on a Croatian market when I was 15 (no, really), and I love doing it. But then the Car Shop people killed it dead. They don't move on price. They can't, any more than the supermarket checkout person at Asda can. They are constrained by their system. There is no haggling. If I hadn't got a very excited daughter waiting for the news, I would have walked out there and then. Seriously, had I been buying the car for myself, however much I wanted it, I would have walked away. I don't buy cars without haggling. It spoils the whole experience.

So there you are. I bought a car from Car Shop, I think I got it at a reasonable price. But I would not touch them again with the proverbial barge pole. They are killjoys.

6 comments:

  1. While I respect that the dealership might have their own reasons for not budging on the prices of their cars, I totally agree with you that cars should be haggled for. If you know how to play your cards right, you usually end up getting a little more, whether it’s savings, extra features, or accessories on the car. Haggling for a better price also helps to dictate just how much the car really is worth, which usually helps narrow your choices down, if you’re choosing from a list.

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  2. That's true - but most importantly for me, haggling is fun! It gives you that 'caveman' satisfaction of hitting the prey over the head and bringing back the prize.

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  3. It is definitely worth haggling still, while they may not move on the price, the extras and even valuation of any part-exchanges can be done... but then haggling on used cars is will never yield the same results as on new.

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    1. As it happens I didn’t have a part exchange. And, yes, I got a free set of mats out of them. But it wasn’t the same!

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  4. True my friend! Today's generation is a bit more advanced and smart so it's difficult to guess about their choices. Yeah, car shops charge comparatively higher than the dealers. A huge amount of tax you need to pay here. Well, no issues! It's completely in budget but the actual expenses starts now with the servicing and maintenance of your brand new car. As you can’t ignore the maintenance, you have to spend for it.

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  5. My Dad, has just purchased a car from the car shop, what a miserable set of people to deal with. the salesman had to go back and forth to speak with his manager every time we asked a question ? why not have the manager on the shop floor and do away with the salesmen.

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