Traders’ Which? anger

Time 10:07 pm, October 15, 2010

everitt1CAR dealers have hit back at a report by Which? Car that claims to reveal dirty tricks of the car trade.

The investigation by the consumer association set out to advise buyers on how to steer themselves around ‘salesmen’s hype’.

It said dealers use code such as ‘high-balling’, ‘ankle tapping’ and ‘time of the month’ to encourage buyers to part with their cash.

But motor traders have struck back branding the claims as being ‘out of a time warp’.

The Which? Car report – released Friday – says car dealers use some of the following tricks to shift stock:

High-balling – Salesman offers customers an unrealistically high trade-in price so he can offer less discount on the car he’s selling

Ankle tapping – Salesman offers less than the market value for a trade in so he can offer a lower price for a new car

Time of the month – At the beginning of the month salesman says he needs the sale to make up last month’s quota; in the middle he claims the sale is needed for a specific quota, and at the end of the month he needs it as he’s ‘almost hit his target’

Wooden duck – A customer who does not haggle.

Although all dealers we spoke to admitted there are a minority that let the side down, all slated the Which? Car report.

Trader James Litton, of the, said he’d never heard of the ‘ridiculous’ terms the research stated.

‘The report must have been found on the Mary Celeste as it’s that out of date,’ he said.

‘Seriously, who writes this rubbish? For an organisation that professes to be a consumer champion this type of nonsense appears to me to treat buyers as some kind of brainless idiots.

‘If a salesman honestly thinks using clichéd patter will work for them in this day of information at the tip of buyers’ fingers then more fool them. If a customer falls for it then what does that say about them?’


And Litton wasn’t the only one fuming. Fellow independent car dealer Barrie Crampton, from Preston, Lancs, added: ‘A customer who doesn’t haggle or negotiate should be called a Dodo not a wooden duck, not because they’re stupid, but because they don’t exist any more!’

And it wasn’t just the independents standing up for the trade either. Andy Coulthurst of large dealer group JCT600 – which holds franchises for Aston Martin, Porsche and Ferrari – added: ‘While there is no doubt that some unscrupulous dealers out there will resort to dodgy tactics to sell cars, the majority will provide a professional service.’

The Society of Motor Manufacturer and Traders wasn’t impressed either. Chief executive Paul Everitt, pictured, told us: ‘As an industry we recognise the need for continuous improvement and, through initiatives like Motor Codes, are committed to transparent monitoring and raising standards.

‘I understand the need for interesting headlines, but there must also be fair comparisons and secure analysis.’


Read James Litton’s Car Dealer columns here

James Baggott's avatar

James is the founder and editor-in-chief of Car Dealer Magazine, and CEO of parent company Baize Group. James has been a motoring journalist for more than 20 years writing about cars and the car industry.

More stories...

Motors Advert
Server 108