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Car retail suppliers cut fees to offer coronavirus business support

The AA, eBay Motor Group and JudgeService are among the latest suppliers to cut fees and offer free services in a bid to help the car retail sector through the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak.

While the AA cut its fees for April and May by 50%, eBay Motors Group – including Gumtree Motors, eBay Motors and Motors.co.uk – will make now charge during April and JudgeService is offering services designed to get retailers trading online for free on an indefinite basis.

The actions follow Auto Trader’s announcement that it was prepared to incur a loss of £6 million to £7m next month by waiving its fees for April and extending its payment terms for March.

The eBay Motors Group said that its online marketing services would be provided for free in March, adding that it would apply no charges for over-posting – allowing dealers to advertise all stock – and a payment extension for March invoices of 90 days in its response to the impact of the global health crisis.

Phill Jones, head of eBay Motors Group, said: “This is a very difficult time for car dealers, with many facing big questions about how to manage through this period. I am pleased that we are able to provide this support to our customers at this time. 

“Together with our sister companies within the eBay Classifieds Group, we are able to gain insight from multiple geographies, including Italy. We will provide dealers with a regular view of the market and our learnings from across the world.

“We will continue to monitor the situation to understand impact on future invoices.

“We sincerely hope that this helps our dealers through this unpredictable period and that government support helps to stabilise our prized industry.”

Taking to LinkedIn over the weekend to announce his business’s AA chief executive, James Fairclough, said: “To help car dealers within our network during this unprecedented and very challenging time, we will be applying a 50% discount automatically to all invoices in April and May.”

JudgeService, meanwhile, the customer data insight firm that it will provide three of its survey services for free to any dealership, whether they are a current client or not, as it aims to support the automotive industry through the coronavirus crisis.

The three free services are the PX valuation survey, the online sales survey and the product survey – all designed to support dealers in selling more online.

JudgeSerice said that the platforms would deliver valuable insight into customers' experience of the valuation process and online buying, as well as peer review content for potential buyers.

JudgeService founder and managing director, Neil Addley, said: "We recognise this is a worrying time for car dealerships – if people can't come out to see them, get part exchange valuations and test drive, they might well wonder how on earth they'll keep selling cars.

"However, we’re already seeing dealerships adapt to the situation, just as they have other crises over the years.

“We're offering these services completely free as a gesture of solidarity to the industry, helping them to find a way through the challenges and discover a new way of selling cars.

"This isn't a short-term way for us to tempt people in – the offer will be in place for as long as the coronavirus crisis is affecting the UK automotive industry."

AM exclusively reported early last week that Peter Vardy Group chief executive, Peter Vardy, is now offering free installation and use of his end-to-end online car retail platform SilverBullet in a bid to make the sector’s businesses more resilient to the impact of COVID-19 coronavirus.

Vardy said: “For a lot of businesses there’s a sense that, if they are not able to transact online in the coming weeks and months, life will be extremely difficult for them.”

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