SOME instant car buying websites quote unrealistically high car valuations online to attract customers then offer significantly less on the actual day of sale, according to a comparison website’s investigation.
Motorway.co.uk’s analysis of online valuations and final sale prices for some 4,000 completed instant car buyer sales through its comparison platform over the past year, supplemented by surveying customers that sold to other leading car buyers, found that the ‘price chipping’ practice had become so commonplace that six out of 10 car sellers didn’t get as much as the original online valuation. Just 40 per cent of sellers received the original sum quoted.
While cars valued above £5,000 were chipped down by six per cent on average, for those below £5,000 the average ‘chip down’ was as high as 11 per cent. It added, though, that not all car-buying services took the same approach, with some offering realistic valuations online that rarely changed by much at all on the day of sale.
Alex Buttle, pictured, Motorway.co.uk director, said: ‘Consumers are increasingly looking to sell their car online to car-buying sites because the process is quick, hassle-free and there are some great instant deals to be found.
‘Many sellers simply don’t have time to wait for offers on classified sites or to drive between car dealerships to negotiate a good price. Selling online is the fastest way to get a vehicle sold and it’s why the instant online car-buying industry is growing at around 15 per cent a year.
‘But speed and convenience should not mean consumers have to accept unnecessary price reductions as part and parcel of selling online. Not all buyers routinely inflate their online valuations, but sadly chipping has become so widespread that many consumers have already accepted it as common practice. Unrealistic online valuations could really damage the reputation of this growing industry if it’s not tackled head-on.’
He added that it had developed the smart technology TruePrice to solve the problem by bringing pricing clarity and transparency to motorists.
We Buy Any Car, which is owned by British Car Auctions, said it guaranteed to give the price that it quoted, although it adjusted prices for undeclared damage. The Independent reported it as saying: ‘As [Motorway’s] comparison data does not include damage adjustment it is not truly reflective of a vehicle’s actual market value and is potentially misleading motorists.’