Uncovering the myths and incidents behind those showroom windows with a light hearted view!
When it comes to part exchange valuations, everyone considers their car to be top book and mint condition. Of course, it’s a salemans job to give as little away as possible, but you would be amazed at what people expect their unwanted (and sometimes undesireable) cars to be worth.
The gold plated Citroen ZX:
Lets be brutally honest here folks, unless your old car is fit, clean, tidy and under 5 years old – its scrap. Well in a dealer environment it is, your average Vauxhall dealer simply could not and would not retail your 8 year old well worn Vectra. The smart money is had by cracking a deal for no part ex and offloading your clunker elsewhere privately, no matter how much AutoGlym you pour on or how many magic tree air fresheners you hide under the seats (yep seen it all) your doom blue 1.8 Club with non working air con is worth….. tuppence – even if the first owner was the Parish Vicar. But then again, dealers will compensate with a sometimes favourable discount.
The usual motoring inkies will give you a rule of thumb valuation, but this tends to reflect private selling figures, so don’t be offended if your dealer says he wont take it if you happen to own an ageing Mondeo with a flapping rear bumper – the best you will probably achieve is the finance deposit and not a penny more. To be honest, I find it a bitter pill to swallow when I hear the moaning and groaning of some people when it comes to what offers dealers have given potential customers. But you or I would be the first person to kick off when someone offers us a few bob less for our house, by muttering “cheeky ba****ds” – am I right or wrong?
Yes, I have sold for a living, and this includes cars, trucks, buses, coaches and even retail spares and accessories. There aren’t many areas of the automotive trade I haven’t skimmed across at one point or another in my working life, and the point of these articles is not to defend the salesman. The main point of my ramblings is to educate those who are unaware how the game plays or give some balance to the scales of injustice that often occurs in the motor trade. Far from being perfect, I have often been economic with the truth when it comes to making a sale, but that’s life, but to some out there who think ALL sales staff are cheating sharks – read on.
Of course, I know many a bent sales exec and I am pleased to say many have since either been flushed out or given in. Consumer law today with FSA guidelines & various codes of conduct HAS made things more transparent and secure for the customer. Who has had to go through the needs and requirement disclaimer recently? It’s a boring task, but it’s all there to protect YOU, the customer, against financial malpractice or hardship in the form of Asset Protection, GAP insurance and so on. Should people be interested, there will be tales of dodgy traders, but Joe Public can often be more bent and twisted than a bowl of spaghetti.
The customer thinks the dealers car is worth less and his part ex worth more, but from a dealers perspective, its totally the opposite. So working to those analogies, are either of us wrong? – No! It’s a simple game of wits or battle of the strongest. So with this in mind, let’s kick off with a customer I dealt with some time back who was looking for a new MG ZS looking to trade in his elderly knacker…
January is normally a very bad time for new car sales, and working on a cold Sunday in this month is the closest thing to death by boredom a person can get – aside a weekend in Rhyl. That Sunday afternoon a young couple were seen peering through the window of my demonstrator ZS 120+. We would usually take turns dealing with walk in customers, but my colleague Gary was busy with a punter, so I popped outside, pressed flesh and introduced myself. A bit of probing revealed they were not really looking to buy there and then, but would do for the right car at the right price – fair enough, so they were invited in out of the cold and a brace of coffee’s given, to thaw them through.
They had a part exchange which was an ageing Citroen ZX Volcane (the sporty one), it was as old as the Chilterns and a bit leggy on the mileage, but even though the Citroen ZX in general was even more dull than a blown light bulb, it was in stunning condition and to defend the Citroen, they marked a turning point in build quality. The guy was obviously a petrol head owing to the fact everything worked and was like new, and I kind of feel a bit guilty when it comes to banding figures about with old cars in super nice order as you know you will be poles apart when it comes to putting a value to them. Even after stating I would bowl him over for a no part ex deal, he persisted in asking for the value.
This is where the road often gets bumpy, I knew it was worth about £600 tops at best, but I stuck my neck on the block and offered £800. The guy went ballistic and started cribbing on about how immaculate it was, how it had full service history, how he had spent over £400 on new tyres… and so on. So I invited him to take a look at the used car section and see how many ZXs we had, let alone K reg vehicles. He stated at how he been offered a grand from a mate, “take it” I said, and I promised him a deal so good, he would be like a small child on Christmas Eve. All to no avail, he had some crazy idea his car was worth £1500 because of the condition – really?
All of a sudden his Citroen seemed the best car on the planet, and after some heated discussions about how we would offer him trade value but a good discount, he was still having none of this. He was wrongly transfixed with what we were giving him for his car and NOT what the overall price to change was – the critical factor in ANY car purchase. His girlfriend could see the point and even tried to arbitrate, but he was well and truly on fire and eventually my colleague, who was now finished with his customer, came over and said “well sir… if your car is that good, you keep yours and we will keep ours” – and off they popped!
They say every car tells a story, and the above ending is true, if your car is so good and nice to own, why take the risk of buying something else. When we were quiet at the dream factory, we would trawl through the Auto-Trader reading the ads and trying to spot the funny ones, or the ones that were just so awful. You know the type, a doom blue Mondeo Aspen with a picture taken on the drive, against a wall, in dark light with a broken bed stead in the background – genuine reason for sale! £895 or near offer – that’s right… because it’s sh*t.
Trader trawling its great fun and ideal to do for half an hour when `er indoors is watching Come Dine With Me or something else mundane enough to make you throw a wine bottle through the screen. Of all the motor trades low life and drudgery, the best fun can be had with the sole traders, they are a dying breed now, owing to old bangers being worth more money in scrap. But there on the internet sales pages are the traders who operate from the estate in Shameless selling a whole host of coffins like the vile Hyundai Atoz to something truly big and useless, scrotters such as Daewoo Leganza autos – petrol Frontera’s, and my all time favourite worthless wreck… the 1995 3.0 V6 Omega.
Oh hang on… whats this I see here?…. A 1993 ZX Volcane – now this looks tidy.
Moving on to Rover and then PSV / HGV, he has circumnavigated most departments of dealerships including parts, service and latterly - the showroom. Mike has owned all sorts of rubbish from Lada to Leyland and also holds both Heavy Goods & Public Service Vehicle licences, he buys & sells buses and coaches during the week. Mike runs his own automotive web site and writes for a number of motoring or commercial vehicle themed publications
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