There’s not a lot that gets us riled here at Onlymotors. People who put milk in tea first notwithstanding. One thing that does irk us, however, is the current trend for car buying services. We don’t want to bother our lawyers, so we won’t name names. But if we say ‘smug people on brightly-coloured sofas holding money’, you’ll have some idea where we’re coming from. Unless you don’t own a TV.
So why do they annoy us? Well, frankly, they always have. However, a recent interaction has pushed us firmly into the ANNOYED circle of life’s automotive Venn diagram. Amazing really, as we simply didn’t care about the money. We just needed the car gone, nice and fast. Simple, right? No, not so much.
Elderly parents asked us to get rid of it. Ergo, we had no personal investment. It was a high-spec car with ludicrously low mileage, we thought carbuyingservicethatcantbenamed.com would be all over it. An online valuation later and indeed, they were. Reasonable offer, too. We were happy.
We’re not daft, we know these companies buy cars with the intention of selling them. That’s why they only offer trade value. However, for the reduced value, you don’t get Tom, Dick and Harry coming to your home. You don’t have to rearrange your life so people can view it. And most importantly of all, you don’t get hounded by calls. Right? WRONG!
The pestering was constant. We had booked an appointment online. We had confirmed this. We had every intention of going. But still, the calls rolled in, “Hi there, Onlymotors. We’re just checking you’re still coming down at XXpm.” This became annoying, and we told them as such. But, on a promise to the elders who wanted the car gone, we would still go along.
We regretted it immediately. Greeted by a chap who would look far too at home leering at girls in a Wetherspoons, we were already put off. Mainly as this attribute was being demonstrated by the presence of our girlfriend. When he opened his mouth – not to say hello, but to take a cliched sharp intake of breath upon sight of the (generally mint) Vauxhall – our blood began to boil.
Considering he didn’t look like he could spell GSCE, let alone pass one, he was one hell of an inspector. Seriously, the guy found things that the CSI team would miss. In a lab. It was astounding. What was also astounding what the general insignificance of it all. “It’s a bit dirty” was the first comment. It was, but by no means had it just completed a stage of the WRC. “The button for the cruise control is slightly worn” was another. He checks the on-board computer. Another sharp inhale. “Ooh, oil life is only at 75%, we’ll have to change that.” Will you though, or will you just reset the screen? Oh, and the winner? “The (four matching and also brand new) tyres aren’t a brand name.” Outstanding.
Then of course, with microscopic perfection, he found every stone chip, every scuff and every mark. It was quite the sight to behold. Though speaking from experience, it was all stuff a decent wash and polish would remedy. Didn’t notice the dent on the roof though.
The car wasn’t perfect. We know that. First of all, it was a Vauxhall, so perfection was off the table when it was built. Second of all, it was seven years old. It’s a used car. We knew that, too. We also knew the fact it had one key, the patchy service history and the big scrape on the bumper would get the value knocked down. WE WERE READY FOR THAT. We weren’t, however, ready to have nearly £1,000 knocked off for them, and of course, the rep’s spots too. Care of his bloody magic eyeballs.
We went home. And OH SWEET LORD, they DID NOT like that. Nuh uh, no way. They wanted our car. The flurry of emails, the calls, the texts, it was astounding. None were offering us any more money. That would be silly. So they didn’t get our Insignia, as us letting them would be, um, sillier.
A Happy Sale
In the end, we spent some time, phoned around the local dealers and sold it. We made more money than genericcarbuying.com, too. Even after he’d knocked off £200, as the front and rear bumpers needed paint. We were happy. It was on our terms. It was fuss free. Perfect.
It won’t work for everyone. If you have a newer car that, crucially, you’d expect to see on a forecourt, you’re winning. Dealers like that. You’ll be able to do a deal as long as you have some flex on the price.
If your car is older, carwanted.com is an easy way to dispose of it. But that’s all it’ll be, disposal. They’ll put the rough stuff through the auctions, so they’ll want it off you for next to nothing. If that’s not an issue to you, then crack on.
Will a car-buying service buy your car? Absolutely. Will you get what you want for it? No way. Will you get something close? NO. Is your car is brand new and unused? Has it never seen a road before? No? They will knock the price down. And here’s the reason why…
The staff buying the cars are on commission. Pure commission. In fact, someone here at Onlymotors had an interview some years back to do this very job. The pay? £100 a week and a company car. We kid. You. Not. So the more they knock off your car, the greater the margin for it to make money at auction or through a sale to a dealer. Ergo, more sweet, sweet commish for them.
In a nutshell, they’re not the friendly service they suggest. Money is the priority. Not customer service. They’re not your friend, they’re not there to help and they’re not there to help you save money on your next car. In all honesty, if selling privately isn’t for you, your car dealer will give you a far less oppressive valuation if you part-exchange it. That’s the way it’s always been.
Don’t fall for the hype or televised wads of cash, because it’s all nonsense. Trust us.