Motor trade legal experts Lawgistics have cut through dealers’ click-and-collect confusion as a second lockdown looms across England on November 5.
Showrooms will have to close until December 2, but the government has been quicker off the mark regarding click-and-collect this time than it was during the first lockdown.
It says that non-essential retail – which includes showrooms – CAN stay open for click-and-collect.
However, the process has to have been completed online before the customer goes to a sanitised area of the showroom for the handover.
During a special Car Dealer Live where the issue was discussed, Car Dealer founder James Baggott emphasised how crucial click-and-collect would be to dealers – especially larger groups – as delivery would be impractical.
Legal adviser Kiril Moskovchuk said it was likely that click-and-collect will be just as it was back in March when the first lockdown came into force.
Fellow legal adviser Nona Bowkis said the guidance ahead of the new law coming into effect was very clear that click-and-collect could take place even though the physical showrooms had to shut.
The issue, she said, was how could it be done without it being a distance sale.
Distance sale warning
Bowkis said that with a distance sale customers had to be given two weeks to change their mind but there was a way round it.
She said: ‘If a customer rings up and they’ve seen a car on the website and want to make an appointment to come down and collect that car and make a deposit to secure it, what dealers can do is call that a holding deposit that’s refundable.
‘Then when the customer comes to pick the car up if they refund that holding deposit and then take the whole amount for the car on the day, after the customer has seen the car, then that’s not likely to be a distance sale because the customer has concluded the deal after he or she has seen the car.’
She warned, though, that the holding deposit route opened up dealers to the risk of people walking away from the deal.
Does click-and-collect have to happen inside or outside the showroom, some of our viewers wondered.
Bowkis said: ‘To me, it would be totally impractical to have people definitely outside. If it’s pouring down with rain, that’s not a great experience for the customer.
‘The showrooms have got to be closed to stop people wandering in and touching cars.
‘I think if someone is coming down and your showroom is not open for a random person to come in, I don’t think that’s going to be a legal issue.
‘That’s not to say that it won’t come up because someone interprets it slightly differently, but from a practical point of view, if a person is coming to pick their car up, it doesn’t really matter whether they’re indoors or outdoors.’
Dealers would have to prove that the holding deposit had happened in advance, she said, and that they were there purely to pick up the vehicle.
If click-and-collect involved an e-click on a finance application, then that would be another legitimate reason to allow the customer inside, especially if the weather was bad.
Watch the Car Dealer Live video where these issues and more were discussed in detail at the top of this page.
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