UK: Internet car browsers fear buying a lemon - report

By just-auto.com editorial team | 1 August 2001

Research by British used car dealer referral website Cars Alive.com into consumer attitudes towards buying used cars online suggests that the reason buyers are reluctant to move from browsing to purchasing is fear of buying a ‘lemon'.

Concerns over the seller's honesty; the authenticity of safety and mileage checks; the limited availability of vehicle-specific information and service history and worries over outstanding finance and stolen cars appear to be major reasons why so few web surfers are actually purchasing used cars on-line, the survey concluded.

Prospective used car buyers seems to be less concerned about price, delivery times and the availability of finance, insurance and service facilities than they are about dealer credibility.

CarsAlive said that the anxiety caused by these unanswered questions explains the disparity between the high number of web site visits, vehicle searches and online enquiries) and the much smaller number of online sales.

CarsAlive head of business development Carrie Bird said that the findings came from over 18 months correspondence with Internet users and potential car buyers.

"We have received over 10,000 e-mail and freephone enquiries from consumers allowing us to gauge their concerns and expectations during the car buying process," Bird said.

"Top of their concerns are: whether the car is everything it's advertised to be; is the seller the rightful owner?; and what recourse is there in the event of a problem?

"The most important requirement uniting used car buyers is confidence in their prospective purchases. No-one wants to be stuck with a lemon."

Bird added that the relatively low awareness amongst private buyers of their legal rights is an additional obstacle.

"Internet browsers who are unsure as to whether they've got any protection in the event of being sold a lemon simply won't buy," Bird said.

She added that the response from prospective customers was a key factor in her company's decision to only promote manufacturer-approved dealers' used cars.

"When it comes to advertising pre-owned cars on the Internet and offering customers best value in terms of peace of mind and after-sales service, approved dealers offer crucial advantages to buyers," Bird concluded.

To view related research reports, please follow the links below:-

The Future of the UK Used Car Market

A Profile Of The UK Motor Industry

Automotive b2b - Strategic threats and opportunities in the automotive supply chain