UK internet motor retailer, BroomBroom claims there has been an “alarming” rise in the number of car buyers drawn in by big savings on cheap EU imports only to be hit with last minute price hikes from the supplier.

Since July, the Southampton based operation, which only sells 'in-stock' UK and EU-supplied models, has seen a doubling of the number of car buyers who have already tried to import from Europe but been forced to cancel the order and look for a replacement.

"In the majority of cases, people have been attracted by massive ‘headline’ discounts, placed their deposits, sat back, waited, only to be told that the original price has jumped by 7, 10 or 12% just days before they are due to take delivery," said BroomBroom.com managing director Ashley Manek.

"We had one customer buy a stock car from us this week who previously thought he'd snapped up a BMW built to his own specification for a very enticing £5,000 off list only to be told that the price had leapt by 14% when he received his final invoice."

At a time when margins are being squeezed due to increased competition and consumer pressure for bigger discounts, Manek questions the pricing policy being employed by some.

"We've been around long enough to know whether a price is genuinely achievable or not, unfortunately some are simply pie-in-the-sky."

Manufacturers reserve the right to increase list prices or alter specification at any time without prior notice. However, it's far from normal to see excessive hikes of this kind according to BroomBroom. As a result, there is increasing suspicion that some suppliers are attempting to lure buyers into a deal at an unrealistically low price knowing full well that they will surprise the customer with a price increase before delivery.

With industry analysts estimating that the car buyer already has a choice of 5-7,000 cut-price imports in the UK to choose from on any day, the 'build to order' import market is under increasing pressure to give customers a reason to buy.

Says Manek: “If you cast an eye over prices from the established importers, savings vary by only a few hundred pounds. So if someone is offering the same model at £2,000 cheaper than the rest, the potential buyer should look closer and ask a few questions. Ideally, you should only buy from a supplier that is willing to fix the price at the time of order with manufacturer pricing the only variable."

"Thankfully, the consumer is protected by Distance Selling Regulations and we welcome any attempts by the motor industry to stamp out misleading advertising by unscrupulous suppliers. Otherwise it's easy to see how the actions of a few can quickly tarnish the rapidly expanding sale of imports in the UK. Everyone we've spoken to still wants to buy an import - they just don't want to be taken for a fool in doing so."