‘How do I convince buyers I’m no Arthur Daley?’

Time 11:59 am, September 24, 2015

PROVENANCE and vehicle data expert HPI answers questions from you relating to finance, write-offs or car scams. If you have a problem and need some help, email us at [email protected] and we’ll do the rest.

I’m tired of the industry being associated with an Arthur Daley stereotype. It seems that only the big flashy franchise boys can shake this. We do things correctly and treat our customers fairly. If I have a brand that is trusted, how can I stand out?

You’re right. Arthur Daley has an awful lot to answer for, even though he was played by a great actor, George Cole, who sadly passed away recently. But it’s fair to say the reputation of car dealers remains tarnished by his flawed sales antics.

The vast majority of used car dealers, be they local, family-run, independent traders or multi-franchise networks, not only offer buyers great savings on quality cars, but they also offer the highest level of protection against purchasing a vehicle with a suspect service history and a dodgy provenance. Dealers are highly regulated by trade bodies, EU legislation and the UK legal system. They are legally obliged to deal with customers fairly and honestly, which means at best they risk their reputation if they fall foul of meeting due diligence, or at worst they lose their business and could face a judicial sentence.

It’s important to protect the brand that is your dealership – you need to demonstrate you recognise the importance of the Trade Discrimination Act, that you perform due diligence at every stage of the car buying and ownership process and that you promote best practice.

Transparency is key. One of the most powerful laws is The Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008, which bans misleading practices and omissions as well as aggressive sales tactics. So always be clear in how you advertise your stock, and if there’s a negative you aren’t prepared to address before selling the car on, be honest about it.

The Sale of Goods Act of 1979 says the goods must be as described, of satisfactory quality and fit for purpose. The dealer also has to prove ‘good title’, which will confirm he has the right to sell it.

Publicise on your website which associations you are members of. Buyers take confidence in knowing you are part of a body that governs how you trade.

Be clear what your return policy is, and if you firmly believe the consumer does not have reason to truly expect repair work to be done or a refund given, be open as to how they can seek third party opinion through organisations such as Trading Standards, Motor Codes, Citizens Advice Bureau and the RMIF.

Lastly, always share evidence of checks you have conducted on your stock to ensure its integrity, and promote your stock with ‘all clear’ certification.

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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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