/ Motoring

Desperate to flog your car? Don’t sell it online

Computer keyboard with picture of car as a key

Why is it that the more cash-strapped people are, the more likely they are to get a bad deal? Our latest investigation into online car buying sites proves that desperation to sell often means a bad price for your motor.

Imagine that you’ve just lost your job and can’t think of any way to buy food or pay your mortgage than to sell your car.

Doesn’t the sound of a buyer who won’t wince over the odd paintwork scratch, or suck air through his teeth looking at the state of the interior, and try to knock down your price sound like a dream come true?

Well, the likes of Webuyanycar.com and Trademymotor.co.uk say they’ll give you a fair price for your car and complete the deal quickly, safely and easily. But I say don’t be fooled into thinking they’ll give you a decent price for your motor.

How low will you go?

In our research all the prices offered by Webuyanycar were well below the trade value of our cars – that’s the price you could expect to get selling it at auction. This is generally well below the amount you could expect from a high street dealer or in a private sale.

Worse still, Trademymotor.co.uk not only offered low prices, but some were reduced – in one case by more than £1,000 because the inspector said it needed a re-spray – when the seller took the car to the depot. Afterwards, the seller was distraught and seriously concerned that her car had a major paintwork problem – it didn’t.

Yet, because our mystery shoppers didn’t really want to sell their cars, they refused these derisory offers. And surprise, surprise, the prices offered by Trademymotor.co.uk started to creep back up. It seems to me that it’s blatantly clear that the Trademymotor.co.uk buyers were simply trying their luck – and that could mean that the more desperate you are to sell, the less you’re likely to walk away with a decent return.

Trading Standards needs to step in

We think this is such bad practice that we’ve reported our findings on Trademymotor.co.uk to Trading Standards, and are hoping they take a closer look at the way the company operates.

Personally I think that any company that aims to make a living by paying well below the market value for goods – and in doing so leaves people even more short of money when times are already tight – should be closely monitored and penalised if they flout consumer protection regulations.

Have you obtained a valuation from an online car buying firm, or sold your car to one? If so, how did you fare?

Ashley Moon says:
19 January 2012

Interesting report but not the first of this type reporting the low prices paid by on line car companies. I do believe this type of article should come with background information that does put into perspective the valuations/offers that people receive.
Cash for car companies perform a valuable service especially for those people that need to sell their car quickly for various reasons, those people that don’t want the hassle of selling a car privately and whilst sending your car to auction is a viable option, would the general public send their car somewhere and not have the use of it whilst it is sold..if it sells.
Reports like this often quote the “below trade” valuations people receive for their cars, but doesn’t take into consideration the costs these companies incur. staffing, advertising, collection, selling fees to name just a few.
Cash for car companies provide a valuable source of cars to traders who do not wish to deal directly with the public for fear of buying a “wrong un” – This does happen and more often than you would like to believe. Cash for car companies have to take this on the chin sometimes losing hundreds if not thousands of pounds on cars they buy that are not as described or have serious mechanical faults that have been covered up. They can’t go back to the seller once they have paid for it.
My tip for avoiding those cash for car companies that do reduce their offers on final inspection is to be as honest as possible in your appraisal and use a company that comes to you to collect and pays before they leave with their vehicle. If you are on home ground your negotiating position is much stronger as the company collecting will already have incurred costs coming to you. Alloys wheel scuffs, minor trolley dents and small scratches do not effect the value by as much as some companies would have you believe. If you are upfront about any damage then you should be safe knowing that the offer you received online or over the phone is the amount you will receive in your bank when the company come to collect your car. At the end of the day do not accept an offer you are not happy with.

John Swannell says:
20 January 2012

I attempted to sell a bmw on webuyanycar.com in September. They offered me £12,000. I eventually got £17,500 as a trade in from a main mercedes dealer. They would have still made a profit, so basically it felt like an attempted rip off. Obviously it was my choice and I declined, but how stupid do they think people are?


I feel the same how stupid can people be to sell to these companies who offer about 2/3 of the trade in value if that I think the only people who take there offer up are the people who have cars that do have something really wrong with them and can’t be sold legit.
If they offered the proper prices they would receive a much better quality enquiry from punters and stopped trying to rip people off, We Buy Any Car cut down a bit on the advertising and offer more to the customers.
Did a test Merc SL 400 new January 2015 paid £75,000 there price with 10,000 miles as new £36,500

nicknick says:
20 January 2012

Easy enough to do a check – just done mine an 07 plate Saab. Webuyanycar = £3,100. Parkers = £4700 part exchange (the worst price) and between £6,000 and £6,300 at a dealer.

You still have to book an appointment and go to their franchised dealer, and it would be just as easy to go to the main dealer for your car (probably a similar distance)

They are a real rip-off and I see them similarly to those ‘send us your gold for cash’ companies (and also the payday loan companies). As things get worse there are always those with no morals who are prepared to try and rip-off the vulnerable/desperate.

They are not really any different in my mind to a the type of person who calls on an old lady and ‘steals’ her life savings by pretending to mend a fictitious problem with her roof.

There is something wrong with our society when we let these people exist legally, when they are basically fraudsters and therefore crooks as far as I am concerned

Oafski says:
20 January 2012

Following a horrendous renewal quote for the insurance I contacted We buy any car for a quote on a T reg BMW 523i Estate. They came back with £620 less the £50 fee so in reality £570. A work colleague bought it from me for £1400 and considered they had a bargain. These people really are scumbags preying on the desparate or ignorant.

Geoff Edwards says:
20 January 2012

Although slightly off the point could you make people aware of the paypal scam where the buyer is overseas but makes an offer to pay in full in advance saying his agent will pick it up. The money duely arrives in your account and you release the car and documents in good faith. (why wouldnt you since you have been paid?)
Two days later the buyer complains to paypal that the item is not as described.
Paypal then makes a no quibble refund to the buyer and debits your account with the full amount!
The thief now has his money back and your car complete with documents!
You have no car AND a debit for the full asking price.
They didnt catch me but very nearly did.
Also there is a scam offering to pay in full with a bankers draft.
Paying in full for a car you have not seen is too good to be true
and that is always exactly what it is,TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE!
Hope this can help someone avoid being ripped off
ps You may already be aware of this but I certainly wasn’t!
My 30 year old Son would have been taken in!

David Khan says:
20 January 2012

It seems to me that people don’t understand what these companies do… They buy cars at a trade price to make a trade profit…Even the reporters who research them don’t understand the concept…They have massive overheads and running cost and they are not a free service… looking at the comments above its like you people want them to work for free ! I run a car dealership and its tough times, we look at these sites for valuations ourself from time to time as the market is so volatile and a lot of the guides like CAP and Glasses are so far away from reality its a joke these site are usually spot on as there pricing is based on live trading date from what they have previously sold much like CAP do but there figures are a month behind always. People need to get in their head that if you are going to buy and new car then obviously the dealer is going to offer more for your part exchange as he will be taking profit out of the one he is selling you…for example if I have 2000.00 profit in a car and you want £1500.00 for your part exchange which is actually worth £1000.00 I’m just going to juggle the figures and discount my car by £500,00 to make the figures stack up. At the end of the day the car is still worth £1000.00 I’ve just played with the figures to fit the deal.If that customer came to me and asked me to buy it without the sale of a new car I would offer behind book for it probably £800.00 ish as Im taking as risk buying of a member of public. I think companies such as We buy any car and Trademymotor take great risks in operating such outfits.

andy says:
26 August 2015

i think you miss the point theses people are selling there cars and everyone fells the pinch as a car dealer if it’s tough times you may think about an alternate form of making money . no one is part exchanging there motors they are buying sites. you also miss the fact that everyone does want something for free even these car buyers. i myself tried 2 of theses companies the book price for my car on auto trader was £2800 and yes i was expecting to make a loss as both companies offered me around £1800 as i did not need the car and had bought another car it seemed a good idea to sell it to them for a quick sale. having spent around an hour at there site they went through the car with a fine toothed comb also test drove the chap at the centre handed me his phone to someone in manchester who explained the car was not at its best because the glowplugs needed replacing and if the light was on when he had it mot’d it would fail and offered me £500 as is or £1000 if i did the glowplugs as you can see thats a massive price difference for a 10 minute job. these companies are trying to buy dirt cheap and sell high VERY HIGH and as for massive overheads the site was incorporated within a garage and van centre. so it seems to me its a quick way to make buck.