Experts are split on whether car dealers can offer a click-and-collect option for buyers during the lockdown – despite retail stores like B&Q doing similar.
Arguments for and against offering customers appointments to visit car showrooms are rife as some dealers bite the bullet and offer the chance to pick up from their premises, and others do not.
Those for are dealers arguing that their workshops are open and customers are already attending to get their cars serviced and repaired – and say that a click-and-collect service is no different to that.
Those against think it is morally wrong to be encouraging customers to leave their homes to pick up a car from a dealer’s premises and the health and safety risks to the public and staff is not worth it.
Dealers have been calling for a click-and-collect solution to be allowed by the government in the first wave of lockdown restrictions being eased – but as it stands the lockdown clearly states car showrooms should be closed.
Even experts at Lawgistics are on different sides of the fence.
Car Dealer Magazine asked the motor trade legal experts for a definitive answer, but internally their team are arguing for and against offering click-and-collect too.
They say that the regulations can be interpreted in two ways and it will come down to how comfortable a dealer is with those interpretations.
The argument hinges on a term in the government’s Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (England) Regulations 2020 – for those of you interested it is regulation 5(c) – which states businesses must ‘cease to admit any person to its premises who is not required to carry on its business or provide its service as permitted by sub-paragraph (a).’
One side of the legal argument is that dealers can let customers in on a click-and-collect basis because they are there as part of the dealer’s obligation to ‘fulfil a legal obligation’ – that being the sale of the car to them remotely.
However, other legal experts within Lawgisitcs believe this could cause issues as dealers will be relying on the ‘fulfilling a legal obligation’ clause to get them round the fact they are letting in a customer who isn’t needed to carry out business or provide a service.
You can see why it’s tricky, can’t you?
Lawgistics’ consolidated advice doesn’t come down on one side or the other, simply saying:
‘Our conclusion is that there is certainly nothing in the regulations which prevents dealers from taking virtual orders and delivering cars based on those orders.
‘And in regards to a click-and-collect model, there is room for that too in the regulations, but it isn’t as clear.
‘We advise any dealers wanting to operate in this way to take legal advice based on their individual set up.’
If you were hoping for clarity, we’re sorry we can’t give it to you.
Meanwhile, most dealers are either investigating online sales and home deliveries – which the government has confirmed to Car Dealer Magazine dealers can do – or waiting for an official line on click and collect as part of lockdown restrictions easing.
Marshall Motor Group chief executive Daksh Gupta told Car Dealer Magazine he certainly would not be offering click-and-collect handovers, or home deliveries.
He said the latter was something he could offer – but didn’t want to put his staff at risk or in a position where they felt uncomfortable.
And on click and collect solutions he said he was waiting for the government to allow dealers to do it.
‘I’ve already ordered huge amounts of PPE – perspex screens, gloves, thermometers – and we are planning our exit strategy, but I won’t do it until the government says we can,’ Gupta told Car Dealer Magazine today.
‘I’m not convinced we could safely deliver a car to someone’s home without risk and the economics do not stack up. A click and collect solution is what we need but we certainly will not be doing it until there is guidance from the government to say that we can.’
- For those dealers that have decided that a click and collect option is right for then, we have put together this guide with the advice available from the government on how retail can do it safely.