/ Motoring, Shopping

Would you buy a car from Tesco?

Supermarket trolley with cars

The used car salesman’s worst nightmare has finally come true – Tesco has started selling cars. The supermarket giant got into the business earlier this week, but do you want to buy a car from Tesco?

After announcing the launch of tescocars.com, it wasn’t long until Tesco followed it up with its car servicing arm, tescoautocentres.com. So now you can buy, run, insure and finance your car through Tesco, as well as keeping it ship shape with new tyres (from tesco-tyres.com). But is Tesco’s motoring march a good thing?

Worth the Clubcard points?

Significantly, both new ventures are online-only and run in co-operation with partners already in the trade – Carsite and the National Service Network group.

So if you want your motor fixed, Tesco will pick it up and take it to the nearest garage. But if you’re buying a car, Tesco won’t let you test drive it. Instead you’ll have to be content with watching a video of it online. Why? Tesco says that by doing away with showrooms and salesmen, it can make prices cheaper than its competitors.

And since you’re buying online, don’t forget that you’ll have more rights than when buying off a forecourt – under the Distance Selling Regulations you have a cooling-off period of seven-working days when buying off the net, meaning you can return your Tesco-bought car and get your money back, no questions asked.

On top of that, one of the main benefits being sold to customers is the lure of thousands of Clubcard points – something that might prove tempting to potential buyers.

Used car trade needs a wake-up call

Tesco’s actually taking quite a risk by getting into the used motor trade. It’s the UK’s most complained-about industry – in fact, Tesco’s launch came just days after the Office of Fair Trading rapped the knuckles of webuyanycar.com for misleading customers.

However, with the used car trade struggling to shrug off its image as unreliable and untrustworthy, a big name like Tesco could be what’s needed to get others to raise their game.

Still, would you buy a car off the net without being able to take it for a test drive? And would you even consider buying a motor from a supermarket giant like Tesco?

Sybilmari says:
6 April 2011

I won’t buy ANYTHING from Tesco.

The costs of running a dealership, including the provision of demonstrator cars, must be passed on to the customer, so it is cheaper to buy online. There are plenty of ways of finding out about cars without test driving them.

I detest the idea of haggling, so for this reason and because of the lower prices, I will probably buy my next car online. The thought of paying thousands of pounds to a company that I have never heard of is very worrying. I might consider buying from Tesco, a familiar company that I have so many reasons to hate.

I’ve changed my mind after realising that tescocars.com sell only used cars. I would rather buy a new car and keep it for ten years. I don’t want to risk buying a car that has been abused and could prove unreliable, and that has nothing to do with Tesco.

Yes, I would consider it.

If you want to test drive then just go to a registered dealer.

I don’t like the food at tesco, but for all other things you can get elsewhere, I don’t think they can be beat. But that’s probably due to the aggressive negotiating that they do with suppliers.

I once worked for someone who were actually paying for tesco to be their customer because of the “prestige” associated with it.

It just means they are very good at squeezing the margins

OK just checked it, pretty poor to be honest.

They are all mostly high milers bought from ex-contract hire. Yes they are “RAC approved” but when a car has that many miles on the clock, I need to try it for myself.

It’s just like a tesco version of Carshaft, sorry Carcraft 🙂

Beware of those finance deals…..

Zoe says:
7 April 2011

How long before Tesco starts selling supermarkets? They appear to be shunting their way into every other area of life.

Haha, this comment made me laugh – Tesco do seem to be expanding into quite a few new areas. We did a convo on their Cash for Gold plans a while ago, so perhaps used cars isn’t quite so odd. Zoe – your comment reminded me of a comedy show that aired a while ago where they imagined a Tesco so powerful it went to war with Denmark…

Fat Sam, Glos says:
7 April 2011

I have no probs buying from anything from Tesco. If it’s competitively priced then surely only we can be winners? It’s up to the rest of the market to catch up and provide that level of service for that price.

When I’m shopping for groceries, I don’t expect a gold level of service – it’s just my weekly shop! Surely Carte Noir, Carlsberg and Warburtons bread is the same in every store? But if it’s cheaper overall in Tesco then why would you pay more elsewhere for exactly the same product? And in my experience, most of their own brands aren’t too bad though it pays to check the labels for ingredients and nutritional value (often much better than expensive branded products). Trial and error, trial and error.

And all those points add up – free Eurotunnel again, and again for the foreseeable future, not to mention almost limitless free blu-ray movie rentals from Blockbusters, etc…

I’d actually like Tesco to go into the estate agency business. It might give some of our long-standing agents a good kick up the back side!

But that’s me and my background is business – I go for value for money. Stuff principles for your weekly shop. Make it work for you.

Jeff says:
7 April 2011

Will they be making the usual offers?:

Buy one get one half price
Buy one get one free
Buy three – pay for two

let’s hope they don’t have self-service checkouts! Imagine having to reverse in and out of the ‘bagging area’…

Paul1960 says:
8 April 2011

If Tesco apply the same level of customer care to their cars as they do with everything else, then they won’t be in the business long. Just imagine going to pick up your car and being told “sorry we do not have that model so we have substituted it with another”. Tesco need to improve public perception if they wish to be taken seriously.

SteveK says:
12 April 2011

Yes, I’d certainly consider Tesco as according to your description of how they prepare and market the cars they do at least as much – in many areas more – than many showroom dealers. And being able to hand it back, no questions asked, within 7 days is something few mainstream dealers would consider. That’s a pretty good insurance policy in my view. And ex- hire cars are rarely high mileage. And for the many who only drive 3-5k miles a year, 20-30k on the clock is not an issue.

Skinny Liz says:
12 April 2011

Yes, I’d certainly consider it – I have every faith in Tesco’s customer service.

Interesting that people like to knock Tesco. Forget yawn-inducing Which?-style surveys bashing their customer service – the only truth that counts is that it is by far the most popular retailer in the country in terms of turnover.

There must be a reason for that.

UnhappyTescoCarBuyer says:
12 June 2011

Tesco Cars – My buying experience – LT07 YYC – Wayne Stevens
Please pass this on to senior management at Tesco Cars.

19-05-2011 (Thursday 10pm):
Whilst searching the internet for a car, I found Tesco Cars.
I added a car to the garage (which I assumed was the same as a favorites section) to look at another time.

20-05-2011 (Friday 9.30am):
Received a telephone call asking how I would like to pay for the vehicle I had purchased!
I explained that I thought the garage was a favorites section, and I would not buy without seeing the vehicle first.
A fee of £99 was taken to hold the car for me, and Sunday 22nd May at 10am was booked as a viewing time.

21-05-2011 (Saturday 10am):
I telephoned Tesco Cars to see if I could pay and take away the car on the Sunday, as it is a 5 hour, 250 mile return journey.
I was told that if I paid by debit card I could take the car.
We then rearranged our finances so we could pay using the debit card.
I sorted out my own car insurance for the vehicle starting immediately so I could drive the car home.
Sorted out childcare for our 2 children for the Sunday.

22-05-2011 (Sunday 10am):
Arrived at Sat Nav location, no signs for Tesco Cars. Asked at local fuel garage, they had not heard of Tesco Cars.
Phoned Tesco Cars, we were in the right place and drove onto industrial estate.
It was only recognising the number plate LT07 YYC that allowed us to find the office.
Was shown the car by Mike, and I asked if I could take it for a test drive and was told no, as it was not allowed.
So sat in car, seats were stained and smelly. Started engine.
I asked about warranty, and was told Tesco Cars offered 7 days, and the RAC check was 30 days.
Decided that it looked ok and we should buy it.
Asked if I could pay (using debit card) and take the car, we were told no, as it had not had any final checks done and had no road tax (how can you sell a car with no road tax?, it needs to be included in the car price)!.
I was told to telephone Nigel on Monday.

23-05-2011 (Monday 10.30am):
Telephoned Tesco Cars, Nigel.
Explained what I had been told about paying and taking the vehicle, and how unhappy I was.
Also pointed out that the engine had an oil leak and that there were scratches on the car, neither were on the RAC report.
That there was a smell of pets in the car.
Explained the time, distance and fuel cost I had incurred.

Later: RAC looked at engine and discovered the breather pipe was perished and was leaking oil onto the engine!
After many telephone calls from Zoe Hamer and Michael Warrington we agreed:
£99 paid as handling fee, Car £5795, Admin Cost Free, Road Tax +£95, 7 Days insurance Free, Air Con Disinfected Free, Oil Leak Fixed Free, Scratches Fixed Free, Delivery +£99, Less -£75, Less -£40. Balance to pay of £5,874.

24-05-2011 (Tuesday 8am):
Paid for the car via bank transfer.

25-05-2011 (Wednesday):
Had an email to say payment received.
Another email to detail delivery at 2pm on Friday 27th May.

27-05-2011 (Friday 12.15pm):
Received a telephone call to say that the wrong V5 document was with the car! So it could not be delivered.
Michael explained that the correct V5 document could arrive in time for a Saturday delivery, but would prefer if the weekend staff did not have the handle the process.
I explained that I was going on holiday on Tuesday 31st May, and needed the car.
Tesco Cars agreed to pay for a hire car for my weeks holiday. Thank you.


05-06-2011 (Sunday 11pm):
Read an email dated 31-05-2011 to say the car would be delivered to my home address on Monday 6th June 9.30am.

06-06-2011 (Monday 9.15am):
Received a telephone call to say the car could not be taxed, as the 7 day insurance had expired, and I needed to change the dates to have an active 7 days again.
I did this and the 7 days policy was started again and faxed to Tesco Cars.
06-06-2011 (Monday 2pm):
Car was delivered. I gave the driver a lift into Newmarket Train Station, so he could continue his journey.
The collection report from the driver shows additional scratches and a dent in the bonnet.
These were not on the original RAC report, and were not present when I viewed the car.
The stone chips on the bonnet have also been badly touched up using the wrong colour red.
The whole car is now covered in small scratches, it looks like a gritty cloth has been used when cleaning.
The service booklet is also missing!

11-06-2011 (Saturday 11am):
Took the car to a Main Ford Dealer.
Brake pads are warn and given an advisory note to replace!
CV gaiter o/s outer split, this is an MOT failure, and required urgent attention!!
These should have been spotted by the RAC, but I assume that the vehicle had not been up on a ramp for a decent check.

To conclude:
I cannot fault Mike, Nigel, Zoe and Michael.
All of them tried to sort out the problems, it just seems that there isn’t a system in place for:
checking details
the buying process
or what can / cannot be done (ie payment, test drive).

The RAC report means nothing; as I spotted the oil leak, and they did not see the CV gaiter split, which will affect the steering, or advise about the brakes being worn!

Could you please send the LT07 YYC service book to me (your RAC report details it being stamped 06-07-2010 at 27,500 miles so I know it exists).

Wayne Stevens

Thank goodness that next time I buy a car it can be less of a nightmare. The site looks straightforward with a good range of cars and clear charges. I can choose finance if I wish to without the “we have some legal documents to discuss” trick where I get a hard sell on loans.
I am now looking forward to getting my next car through Tesco.