Franchised car dealers have been targeted by consumer magazine Which? with its latest survey which has accused the automotive retail sector as taking customers for a ride.
The magazine conducted an undercover investigation in which and claims it found “poor, misleading or unclear advice,” when it approached 26 franchised car dealers.
Out of the 26 dealers investigated between October and November 2008, four were seen to be “in breach” of the consumer protection rules, 12 were “cagey” and there was no comment on the remaining 10, which suggests they all provided clear and concise information.
Which? suspected some dealers of using “bait and switch” tactics - advertising a car, despite knowing there’s no stock, with the aim of selling an alternative – and “pressure selling”, such as implying a false deadline for a discount offer or saying stocks are low.
One example of “bait and switch” Which? gave was of a Peugeot dealer that said on the phone he had a model that was advertised on its website. An hour and a half later in the showroom, the researcher was told the dealer didn’t have that model and was shown a different car.
Richard Headland, editor Which? Car, said: “The ghost of Arthur Daley’s alive and kicking, unfortunately. Dealers have had ample time to get used to the new rules, but too many still let car buyers down.
“Our investigation was just a snapshot, but we still found several examples of dubious sales advice. If dealers want to win the confidence of consumers, especially in these tough times, they need to play by the rules.”