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November 24, 2005

UK [updated 15:35 GMT]: Single women get raw car buying deals

British car dealers charge women an average of £534 more than men to buy the same car, undercover research by consumer magazine What Car? revealed.

British car dealers charge women an average of £534 more than men to buy the same car, undercover research by consumer magazine What Car? revealed.

Using hidden video cameras and microphones, What Car? sent single men, single women and couples into 45 dealerships in the North, Midlands and South of England.

Researchers shopped for five new cars – a BMW 320i, Ford Focus 1.6, Nissan X-Trail 2.2 dCi, Vauxhall Corsa 1.2 and Volkswagen Beetle Cabriolet 1.6.

They found that women were quoted up to £1800 more than men (£534 on average); nearly half the dealers refused to offer a discount to women; and that couples were usually offered better deals than women on their own, even when women took the lead in negotiations.

The 1,500 minutes of secretly-shot footage showed that women are charged more and pressured harder to buy on the spot when shopping for cars.

It also exposed how many dealers fall back on sharp practices and misleading information when discussing finance terms with all customers.

When it came to discussing finance terms, sales staff hid behind new Financial Services Authority regulations while many business managers deliberately played on the complexities of interest rates and loans. More than half the female shoppers and couples felt finance packages had not been fully explained, compared with 27% of men.

What Car? editor, David Motton, said: “Women are getting a raw deal when buying a new car. They pay more and feel under more pressure to buy than men.”

Sue Robinson, director of the Retail Motor Industry Federation’s (RMI) National Franchised Dealers Association, said: “I am astonished at the findings from What Car?’s recent undercover research, particularly in today’s market with the importance that dealers and manufacturers place on all customers.

“One of the biggest new growth segments for car sales is women – they now account for almost half of all driving licence holders. For any business not to acknowledge the size of female buying power is extremely short sighted.

“We know that many of our RMI dealer members have formal policies in place to ensure that all customers are treated equally and the RMI and its members will be discussing this issue to specifically identify additional training needs.

“We believe it is important for all consumers to ‘do their homework’ before negotiating their purchases to ensure that they get value for money.”

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