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The March issue of AM - Automotive Management magazine - is out now

There has been much talk in our industry about a need for more transparent pricing. The reasons given are consumers’ dislike of negotiation in the car buying process, and the resultant impact on perceived trust in the dealer and value in the deal.

We examine the subject in depth in the latest issue of AM - Automotive Management, but I have begun to wonder whether we are actually talking about translucency, rather than transparency. I suppose it depends on the interpretation of transparent.

The Oxford English Dictionary definition of ‘easy to perceive or detect’ surely applies to car pricing already – it’s a foolish dealer that does not put a figure on stock – albeit that price may be negotiable. And the growth in online used car valuation services suggests the consumer is getting better guidance on the trade value for their part-exchange, even if they do not understand how those values have been calculated. But no one wants absolute transparency.

Really, we are talking about trust. The hotel industry is still not transparent, years after it went through its digital disruption. Look on TripAdvisor or and you will not see what any reviewer actually paid for their stay a fortnight before the school holidays, when the rate probably doubled.

The closest a user will get is the consolidated guest review ratings for service, value, facilities, etc. and an array of verbatim reports from guests.

Yet our industry still does not encourage reviews. That must improve – accept that there is no one more transparent or trustworthy than an existing customer.


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