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Private buyers reveal 'internet lemon' fear

Consumers are reluctant to switch from browsing to buying cars on the internet for fear of “taking home a lemon”, according to independent stock locator CarsAlive.

It believes concerns over dealer credibility, authenticity of safety and mileage checks and fears over outstanding finance and stolen cars are deterring consumers from making online purchases.

CarsAlive, which has a database containing 900 franchised dealers covering most makes of car, claims its site is used by more than 1,000 people a day.

Dealers pay a weekly fee to advertise their cars, with photos, special offers and dealership details. There are no set-up fees, sales commission or cancellation costs.

Carrie Bird, CarsAlive head of business development, said research with consumers influenced the company's decision to act as a locator rather than a retailer.

“It seems that an underlying fear of the unknown and issues about vendor reliability in the event of a problem is holding back the entire online used car buying market,” she said.

“The relatively low awareness among private buyers of their legal rights is an additional obstacle.”

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