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Used car dealer Cinch comes under fire on BBC’s Rip Off Britain 

  • Online car buying gets a kicking on BBC consumer affairs programme
  • Monday’s Rip Off Britain tells story of consumers’ bad online buying experiences
  • Customers say they wish they’d ‘visited a physical dealership’ 

Time 7:41 am, October 11, 2022

Online used car disruptor Cinch has come under fire on BBC consumer advice programme Rip Off Britain.

On the show – fronted by Julia Somerville, Angela Rippon and Gloria Hunniford – the online used car dealer was blasted for selling a paramedic two cars with problems.

In the show, which aired yesterday and is available to watch now on the BBC iPlayer, Hunniford said: ‘Buying a second hand car used to be looking through all the ads, traipsing through showrooms and being subjected to that very slick patter of a used car salesman, but now, thanks to the meteoric rise of companies that have moved the whole process online, you can avoid all that hassle.


‘You don’t, by the way, get to see the car first, or give it a test drive, because the biggest names in the industry say your peace of mind is top of their priority list.

‘Unfortunately, for the people we’re about to meet, things went very differently for them.’

Branding Cinch a ‘plucky young upstart’, Hunniford said the used car dealership – owned by Constellation Automotive Group – is trying to give the car industry a ‘makeover’.


She said Cinch wants to ‘rid the used car market of its less than glowing reputation’ with ‘no flashy forecourts or shiny salespeople’.

Paramedic Lee explains he bought an £18,000 2018 VW Golf model that had an issue with its battery.

Recovery services came out to the car to find the battery had been swapped for an aging model from another car and spotted it had been repaired after a crash.

Lee said he bought from Cinch because it offered a 225-point quality check and was ‘hugely disappointed’ with the issues.

He told the BBC: ‘While the recovery person was here he noticed that the car had had bodywork repairs done to it as the paint did not match up. I found it unsettling as I didn’t know the car’s history.’

Cinch took the car back and he paid a further £4,000 to upgrade to another car – the make and model of which are not revealed in the programme.

This had warning lights on the dash when it arrived, so he checked the 225-point paperwork and found that it said there were no warning lights present, but also that it had a tow bar and soft top – neither of which it had. These mistakes made Lee question whether the checks were made.

‘This car should never have left the check centre,’ he said

Cinch fixed the problem, but they returned seven months later and this time the car got stuck in first gear. 


‘I felt like I had been had over with a car not fit for purpose,’ he told the show

Cinch told him to get repair quotes, but when he got back in touch and told them the gearbox repairs would cost £2,500 Cinch refused to pay saying the car was now out of its 90-day warranty.

The car was sat in his local garage for a month, but when the BBC stepped in Cinch offered to pay for the repairs and handed over a goodwill gesture.

The used car dealer told the BBC that Lee’s case ‘did not meet its usually high standards’ and admitted it took ‘longer to resolve than it would have liked’.

Cinch pointed out that Lee’s car had been through all the checks and said the gearbox fault appeared five months and 6,000 miles after he bought it. Cinch told the BBC the fault is likely to have occurred ‘had it been bought online or in a physical dealership’.

A second customer of another online used car retailer – which was not named in the show – experienced issues with three cars they bought online and have since vowed never to buy a used car online.

‘I’d rather go to a main dealership where I can deal with a salesperson person to person and I know what I’m buying,’ said the woman who had experienced issues.

Cinch told the BBC its customers can ‘rely on its 14 day money back guarantee and its 90-day warranty’ and explained it was one of the fastest growing brands in the country, selling 45,000 cars a year. 

The complaints about Cinch come just over six months after rivals Cazoo faced bad publicity on BBC’s Watchdog. That show also slammed the 300-point checks made before cars were delivered.

You can watch the latest BBC segment in episode 16, series 14, of Rip Off Britain here. It starts at 32:42.

Main Image: BBC

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.



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