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Survey suggests failures in sales and aftersales

Dealers have made improvements in their showrooms over the past year but still fail to deliver on servicing and repairs, according to a survey of 2,500 car owners for Auto Trader.

Three in five retail buyers questioned said the sales process was “excellent” or “good” but less than half (45%) rated dealers” aftersales customer care as “good” or “very good”.

One in five respondents rated aftersales as “poor” or “very poor” but the survey suggests some improvements over 2006’s corresponding survey.

The survey shows up failures in dealers’ sales departments. Of those experiencing “poor” or “very poor” service (11%), 48% say the dealer failed to make agreed repairs before delivery.

Almost half (45%) say the dealer did not make basic checks to oil/water/tyre pressures before delivering the car and 27% say their car was late. Two in five discovered their new or used car was “overpriced” after making the purchase.

Car owners who rated services as “excellent” or “good” praised staff who worked to get them the best deal (50%), delivered the vehicle on time (44%) and called to check they were happy with the car (32%).

Auto Trader says these results were down on last year by an average of 10%, with dealers appearing to spend more time and care now on aftersales. But one in five people said dealers failed to spot faults and three in ten claimed they were overcharged. Nearly 50% believe cars under warranty must be taken to a franchised dealer for servicing and repair but, given a choice, three in five prefer independent garages.

Alec Murray, RMIF non-executive chairman, says: “Auto Trader’s survey indicates increased consumer satisfaction in aftersales, which shows the industry is heading in the right direction.

“The way a consumer perceives aftersales often has a lot to do with previous experiences. We need to engage with customers and find out how we can satisfy their needs.”

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