/ 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?

Comments
Guest
S Hardie says:
1 February 2012

I was offered £900 trade in value for my 2002 plate corsa last November and went onto webuyanycar website to compare. They offered £675 less £49.99 selling fee so was going to get £625!! what a rip off!!! Needless to say I will not be selling any car to an online retailer, instead sell privately then trade in.

Guest
Dave Healey says:
3 February 2012

The problem I had was with the incorrectly named “We Buy Any Car”. I inputted my Car details, on several occasions. They don’t appear to buy any Car, I was just ignored. I didn’t get acknowledgement of reply of any sort.

I then contacted Trading Standards who were as much use as an Astray on a Motorbike. What a useless organisation! They told me, as “We Buy Any Car” had not made an offer they were not in a position to take any action.

What I was complaining to Trading Standards about was their claim – We Buy Any Car!!!!!
The problem I had was with the incorrectly named “We Buy Any Car”. I inputted my Car details, on several occasions. They don’t appear to buy any Car, I was just ignored. I didn’t get acknowledgement of reply of any sort.

I then contacted Trading Standards who were as much use as an Astray on a Motorbike. What a useless organisation! They told me, as “We Buy Any Car” had not made an offer they were not in a position to take any action.

What I was complaining to Trading Standards about was their claim – We Buy Any Car!!!!!

Guest
Dave Healey says:
3 February 2012

Dammed Computers. Just put a comment on the website. It’s repeated the text, don’t know why!!!!!!

Guest
Keith Denney says:
8 February 2012

I think this article is hilarious Claire Evans the editor has clearly stated that Webuyanycar have cleared their act up but it seems nearly everyone above still isn’t happy and they offered less for 4 out of the 6 cars than the other outfit so can she explain to me how they have cleaned their act up ??. Looks to me like she’s on a backhander from Webuyanycar.com to take the pressure of all the negative press and put it on to the next biggest players in line… its obvious to me after visiting them that these companies are going to take your car as cheap as possible as its a reverse selling process just like when you buy a car the dealer wants to sell it for as much as he can. These firms are for desperate sellers end of conversation…but I’m sure there was no desperate need for sale in Claire Evans house at Christmas after Webuyanycars remuneration LOL Has anyone ever thought to investigate the practices of Which because her report contradicts itself ?

Guest
Andrew says:
14 February 2012

Along similar lines, our eldest son disappeared to university last year but left his old motor rusting on the driveway. Months had passed, so we finally said enough was enough and decided to get rid of it. The local scrapyard offered £100 which we thought didn’t sound right, so we went online and got an offer from we buy any car.com, who we couldn’t believe offered half of that- £50! In the end we saw an advert on TV for a website offering to recycle scrap cars, CarTakeback.com, so we went on their website and were offered £230! Needless to say we snapped their hand off and the driveway is now clear.

Guest

I was offered £750 when I filled in the online form from We Buy Any Car.

When took the car to be viewed the following day, they lowered the offer to £200. We refused to sell and put in on eBay the same day. We had several bids and it went for £600 for a few days later.

Selling online was very good for me!

Guest
Rob says:
11 April 2013

We buy any car valued my 6 year old Focus 1.8 TDCI (88k miles) at £1,700 via their online valuation tool. I took careful account of the damage on the vehicle to ensure the online quote was as accurate as possible.

I took it to their Richmond inspection office 2 days before I had to leave the country (so I was very keen to conclude a sale of the vehicle- however, I did not tell the inspector this). He then examined my car, entered the results in his computer and re-valued the offer at £468. He tried to persuade me that the car was worth its market value, less the retail price of the work to bring the vehicle up to ‘brand new’ standard. Despite my desperation to sell, I refused his offer and the value told me I wouldn’t get any more for it elsewhere. He also subsequently called me to suggest a garage to get a cracked bumper fixed.

I drove the vehicle directly to the BCA auction site at Blackbushe. They were very helpful, entered my car for auction and I am pleased to say it sold for £2,000.

The £2,000 is not the highest possible price for the car and BCA’s fees are higher than the others. However, I got a fair market price for my car and I am happy to pay the higher fees to BCA because the actually provided a real service.

We Buy Any Car operate by

1/ offering what seems to be a reasonably good price on line and arranging an appointment; then

2/ Making you take the vehicle to a site which is hard to find and very unpleasant (i.e. you want to get out of their as fast as possible-* see my description of the Richmond experience below)

3/ Then making a very poor offer on the vehicle (ostensibly based on their valuation) which they know you are more likely to accept because 1/ you don’t know much about the value of the car (because you are using their website) 2/ you are desperate (its basically a fast payment service) and 3/ they’ve made their valuation site/ office unpleasant, almost mildly threatening so you are likely to sell at a poor price just to get out of there.

4/ If you sell, they will generally do nothing to the car, they simply take it to auction (which is something you can do yourself, very very easily) They therefore make their margin on both the fee they charge you for selling and on whatever margin they make on the car.

My experience of the Richmond we buy any car site was that it was a fenced in bit of waste ground with a couple of dodgy looking fellas hanging around. It is a locked gated area, not a good place to be for the more nervous of disposition, any one elderly, infirm or visiting in the dark! The valuer later told me the whole site was covered by security cameras ‘which had clocked me and the car on the way in’, ostensibly not to reassure but to justify why he couldn’t negotiate on price after his inspection, which seemed very odd to me. The office they used was one of those temporary ‘rent an office space’ type arrangements- i.e. cheap, nasty and unpleasant

When I refused to sell the car for £468 and the valuer refused to negotiate, he became mono-syllabic, did not show me out and I spent 5 minutes trying to find my way out of the office.

All in all, it is fair to say that the ONLY thing we buy any car offered was a rapid sale. The price was very very poor, the experience unpleasant and they were directly dishonest in their implication that my car was not worth any more than what they had valued it at. They did not say ‘this is what it is worth to us’, they said ‘this is what it is worth’ implying the general market value.

My last comment is that anyone who out of hand dismisses what parkers/ glasses guides say about new and used car values is being disingenuous. Those guides are in fact the only real guideline on value in the market which are compiled from actual data.

Guest
Danny says:
31 May 2014

We’ll I had a fantastic experience with we buy any car. I was on the look for a new car and most places gave me roughly the same figure in p/x £8500. We buy any car website offered £9800 but I didn’t put down any damage on the form because I was busy and thought they wouldn’t offer a good price anyway. When I took it in they offered £9500 once all the dents and damaged wheel were taken into consideration. Yes I could have got an extra £1000 selling private but I really couldn’t be bothered with that. I know that years ago they offered me £3500 for a car I sold for £7500 but on this occasion they offered me the best deal.