It’s funny being a dinosaur, especially a motor industry one.
The more that things are done differently - or digitally, it seems - the more they stay exactly the same. I was intrigued to read that a company was offering used cars “delivered to the door” with 150 checks performed and a 14-day money-back guarantee.
Although the service is being launched about now, it has been around since the spring. Oh, and the company is called Carspring, although I didn’t ask why. Not that it ever matters these days. Witness eBay and Amazon.
Carspring’s founder, Max Vollenbroich, says: “Today, e-commerce is king, but the second-hand car market has struggled to evolve with the digital age in the way we’ve seen happen in most other sectors.” I met Max and he is a jolly nice chap.
On the face of it, what they’re doing is very traditional. They will buy cars from people like you and then check them over and sell them back to people like you. What they aim to cut out is the annoying bit: the car showroom. So all you have to do is click on the car you like the look of, pay and then a few days later someone drives or trailers it to your door. If you don’t like it, there is a 14-day money-back guarantee.
To quote their press material directly: “The company says it wants people to think of it as their ‘car concierge’ service that can steer them through the plethora of models on offer, wade through the jargon and cut through the confusion of pricing and hidden costs.”
The concierge approach always works for the time-poor, cash-rich among us, but it could be problematic when there is a £1500 starting point. Max told me they check the car thoroughly and the AA is going to be involved soon, so that’s all very reassuring. Under the latest consumer legislation, that’s the least it should be, and surely there are distance-selling regulations to be considered as well. At the moment there aren’t many cars to look at: 60 a few months back and around 90 now.
Carspring might be on to a winner by selling your car. They agree a fixed fee. Then they send a mechanic to inspect the car and take care of the entire sales process, without the need for buyers turning up on your doorstep. What’s more, the company will buy the car if it doesn’t sell on the website within 30 days. Of course, it all depends on how much the car is being sold for.
Sounds rather a good deal, but terms and conditions obviously apply. This needs to be scaled up rapidly to work or just be a niche service. Depends how long the money lasts, I suppose.