Guest Blog: Dealer Duel

Time 6:40 am, December 2, 2011

79a0733c-1d01-44fe-a72c-00a1bf4d03ebTIMES are hard but sales are booming at on-line sites such as Amazon and eBay as savvy punters look to stretch their ever diminishing purses.

So with a large purchase item such as a car, wouldn’t it be easier and cheaper to simply cut out the middle man and get the car of your choice at a knockdown price at auction?

Arriving at one of the largest car auctions in the south, you cannot fail to be impressed by the large spacious entrance hall, looking more like an airport with it’s vast number of accounts booths akin to check-in desks and centrally placed reception hub, manned (or in this case wo-manned) by welcoming suited and booted staff.

But before you can go through to the massive warehouse containing the day’s vast sea of cars, all gleaming under the powerful neon lights, the reception lady with the Pan-Am smile will relieve you of £5 for each hall’s catalogue (three at this auction). Whereas your competitors – the dealers – obtain these with a knowing smile or wink for free.

If you don’t have a particular car in mind, there is little time to find it in the line up for a visual check before the bidding begins and do be aware that aerials, indicators and wheel-nut keys can mysteriously go missing.

‘Your ears are immediately assaulted by a vocal speed that would have most seasoned racing commentators reaching for their P45s.’

As the cars start up to be driven into the hall, interested dealers swarm to them like bees around a honey pot and with only seconds to go before the car is driven through, doors are opened and interiors and clocks are checked. Once in the Hall, one of the two auctioneers reads out a description of the car and then the bidding begins. Your ears are immediately assaulted by a vocal speed that would have most seasoned racing commentators reaching for their P45s.

This was my first ever auction visit and I couldn’t understand a word that was said! If I had actually wanted to bid for a car, I would have been totally at a loss and I did wonder if the Bluetooth ear pieces in a number of dealers’ ears were actually Auctioneer-to-English translators. Despite the figures on the screen increasing by the second and looking really hard at the assembled crowd, I could see no movements to indicate bids being made and with one car going through every 20 to 30 seconds, it made a McDonald’s drive-though seem like a wait for the number 33 bus on a Sunday.

Moving from hall one to hall two, the speed of speech seemed a little slower and I could actually understand most of what was being said and clearly see nods and winks coming from different bidders dotted around the floor. The serious bidders stood on the floor rather than use the available seats and I saw one or two, iPhones and catalogues in hand, running from one hall to another, again and again.

Hall three was where I should have begun. It had a more relaxed feel and the auctioneers were making a few jokes in between lots. The speech was much slower and I could follow every sale. There also appeared to be more private buyers in this hall; bidding was coming from seated couples, along with one or two brave young people who looked as though they were there with their mums and dads.

‘I would prefer to buy my car from a known dealer rather than at auction’

Once the hammer has fallen on your bid you are required to pay for your purchase there and then; either by cash or credit card. Do be aware though that in addition to the bid price, there are a number of other fees that will increase your purchase by about another 10 per cent. When you get your car home, you may well find that it needs a service and a good valet; there may be scratches and dents that you missed and if the engine management or air-bag light comes on – these are expensive fixes that you will have to pay for yourself: there is no recourse to the auction house.

Having experienced an auction first hand and seen the speed at which the sales are made, I think I would much rather ‘include’ the middle-man i.e. my local dealer in my purchase decision. For far less stress and only a little more money, I would much rather be able to take my time to look over and test drive the car of my choice; see the documentation and ensure that the car is going to be serviced, valeted and that it is all ‘up-together’, with a valid warranty should anything go wrong, before I hand over my money.

For piece of mind, I would prefer to buy my car from a known dealer rather than at auction. Would you?

Who is Jackie Bond?

Jackie is a full time car and bike enthusiast and part time valeter at Dever Cars in Sutton Scotney (Hants).
David Smith, the owner of the business is her partner.

James Batchelor's avatar

James – or Batch as he’s known – started at Car Dealer in 2010, first as the work experience boy, eventually becoming editor in 2013. He worked for Auto Express as editor-at-large and was the face of Carbuyer’s YouTube reviews. In 2020, he went freelance and now writes for a number of national titles and contributes regularly to Car Dealer. In October 2021 he became Car Dealer's associate editor.

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