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Blog: Manufacturers need to reassure used car buyers

Time 2:19 pm, November 6, 2013

310113-1-bcaFAULTY used cars cause the most complaints from motorists who contact the Citizens’ Advice customer service helpline, it was revealed during National Consumer Week.

So what exactly is going wrong during the buying process?

Well, the recent findings revealed that Citizens Advice helped to resolve more than 84,000 problems with second-hand cars in the past 12 months but that these drivers were forced to spend approximately £363m repairing the faults. This would suggest that cars aren’t undergoing the relevant checks before retail.

In fact, closer analysis of the figures reveals that in the first two weeks of September, 83 per cent of vehicles reported had developed faults within a month of purchase. Four out of five of those vehicles required essential repairs while 139 were only worthy of the scrap heap.

If anything, this means that now more than ever before, manufacturers need to reassure their customers they can buy quality used cars from their dealers that won’t develop unexpected faults within a week or so of being driven.

Volvo in particular was keen to talk to Car Dealer and explain why buyers will always receive 100 per cent satisfaction when buying a car through its approved used car scheme, Volvo Selekt.

Used car manager at Volvo, Bruce Greenwood, told Car Dealer: ‘In the midst of National Consumer Week, and with this worrying trend with used car dissatisfaction, Volvo Selekt is a great example of how we’re putting consumers in complete control of their purchase decision, even after they’ve taken delivery of the keys.

‘The news isn’t a major problem from our perspective, because we’re confident we’re taking the necessary steps to prevent problems like this from happening. In my opinion, the news is due to recent economic factors and as a result, the demand for older used cars aged between six to seven years is continuing to increase. The problem is, when customers start buying into that market segment, the risk of things going wrong is more likely.’

With the 150-strong dealer network running Volvo Selekt, Greenwood is confident that all cars are 100 per cent ready-for-retail. The firm selects the best used Volvos to be sold at its dealers and they’re then improved through Volvo approved checks. ‘We have a good strategy through our Volvo Selekt scheme, in which all cars are pre-qualified for retail – we won’t allow the brand to be associated with bad-quality used vehicles.’

The process that each vehicle undertakes through the Selekt programme takes roughly 30 minutes – a very small amount of time considering the number of used cars that head out onto the forecourt every month.

Looking at it from another perspective, many drivers will agree that when it comes to buying a new car, it’s not too long before little problems are noticed that failed to make themselves apparent on the test drive. So, wouldn’t it be great if buyers could just turn around and say ‘actually, I don’t want this car now?’ Well, Volvo drivers can.

Again, thanks to the Selekt scheme, Volvo customers can return any car for any particular reason, whether it’s a small lifestyle mishap or the car is suffering from faults. Volvo offers a 30-day exchange guarantee, so if a customer is dissatisfied with their car for whatever reason within 30 days or 1,500 miles of driving, Volvo will exchange the vehicle for another of equivalent value.

‘We had one gentleman change his SUV product for a Volvo S60, but he wanted to return it because it wasn’t quite large enough for him,’ said Greenwood. ‘So, Volvo supported the exchange and his vehicle was replaced at no extra charge.’

Interestingly, although the option is available, not many drivers have opted for the exchange option. ‘Fourteen cars have been exchanged so far this year,’ said Greenwood. ‘This is a minor percentage of overall sales at 18,300 purchased through the Volvo Selekt scheme.’

The fact that Volvo made the effort to talk to Car Dealer shows that manufacturers are working hard to protect the reputation of the motor trade and have their customers best interests in mind. But what do the dealers think? If you would like to share your thoughts, tweet us on @CarDealerMag.


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Car Dealer has been covering the motor trade since 2008 as both a print and digital publication. In 2020 the title went fully digital and now provides daily motoring updates on this website for the car industry. A digital magazine is published once a month.

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