As the UK prepares for ‘Lockdown 2’ starting Thursday 5th November – 2 thoughts have been forefront on our minds at Carsnip. First – what a wasted opportunity for a snazzy sequel title (I’m thinking along the lines of ‘2 Lock, 2 Down’ or ‘Lockdown 2: Electric Boogaloo’), but also what the world of prospective car buyers are going to be thinking about all of this.
Now whether you agree with the introduction of another national Lockdown or not – something that we definitely won’t be getting into here – the reality is that it’s happening; so we all have to work around it and find a way to keep business alive as we do so. We have discussed 4 week plans with many of our Dealer partners, and many of them have told us the same thing – that they are closing their doors to customers in the strict sense to comply with the rules set down by the government – but that the reality is that potential customers can (and should) be encouraged to get in contact online or by phone, and sales can still be processed. At no point can customers be allowed inside dealerships or garages – even in the case of those who are utilising the servicing & MOT offerings – but there are efficient and slick processes in place to ensure that there is no need for this to be a hindrance. As follows is a general example of the kind of process you can expect when looking to make a used car purchase from one of our Dealer partners during Lockdown 2:
- Search on Carsnip to find the perfect used car for you. Our natural language search function makes this a doddle – you simply type in the search bar the kind of thing you are looking for. For example, you could enter “Black SUV, 50,000 miles, Petrol, £15,000” (if those were your chosen parameters) and the results shown to you (from our book of over 400,000 used car listings) would be the most relevant to those parameters. You can see the above example typed into the search bar just below, and an example of the results that would be shown to you.
- Pick the vehicle that leaps out to you the most; the one that catches your eye as you are scrolling through the results that you can really potentially see yourself driving away in. Click on the listing, and be taken through directly to the Dealer’s website to see the full details of the vehicle; and make sure that it really is the perfect car for you.
- If it is perfect, get in contact with the dealer directly. Their sales phone number will be listed on the website, and there should be a prominently displayed facility for making an online enquiry to register your interest in the car you have chosen. Pick whichever option is most suitable for you.
- The Dealer in question will then get in contact with you as soon as they are able to do so. Most will try and contact you within 15 minutes of an enquiry during working hours – although as lots of staff are now working from home as per the guidelines, some leeway should be allowed on
this. Unfortunately despite the leaps and bounds the world’s industries have taken to get used to the ‘New Normal’ all of which are very impressive and to be congratulated, things are still not always quite as slick as things are under ‘normal circumstances’. Simply put, you are still every Dealer’s number one priority, and they will contact you as soon as they are able!
- You will then be offered a virtual viewing of the vehicle you are considering, and the sales staff member with whom you are speaking will be able to tell you all about the car and talk you through the finer points of the listing. This conversation should be led by you, the customer, so be sure to explain to the colleague you are speaking to exactly what your priorities are, and then they will be able to make sure you are buying the best thing for you!
- Once the virtual viewing has taken place, and if everything has met (or hopefully exceeded) your expectations, you can then move forward with the salesperson with whom you are speaking (this will more than likely require phonemail contact at this point if until now you have
been dealing with the matter via email or online chat). You can then discuss some of the finer points of a potential deal, negotiate on price if this is something you feel is appropriate, and see what extra benefits the Dealer is prepared to offer you – for example the next MOT for free, a 3 month warranty included etc.
- If you are happy with everything you have heard at this point, you can agree on a deal with your new best friend whom you have been talking to at the Dealership (I call them your new best friend because they really are all lovely!). At this point, you will be sent a formal copy of the agreement which you are discussing, which you will be required to sign and return. In some cases, this particular part of the process may be done differently, and some Dealers may not want you to sign paperwork until collection. This doesn’t apply to any purchases made with finance – as finance will have to be applied for and fully arranged before collection, all of which requires pre-completed paperwork (or completion of an online variant of the same).
- As above, if you require dealer-sourced finance to fund your purchase then this will be arranged between you and your dealer contact at this point. This is because you cannot (under current guidelines) attend a Dealership unless you are collecting a car you have purchased, or are having an MOT, Service or Repairs completed. Take a look at our Guide to Car Finance for more information on this completely separate minefield!
- Any final details, concerns or anything else relevant will at this point be sorted – whilst things are still being dealt with remotely. Of course, everything is being done like this in order to adhere to the strict guidelines which means customers can under no circumstances enter a Dealership – as their doors are ‘closed’.
- Up next is the big day – Collection Day! This process has been simplified (mainly by ensuring all things have been sorted remotely in the previous steps); meaning that the idea of the collection process itself is very simple, you (as the customer) arrive at the dealership at the pre-agreed time slot, the colleague from the Dealership whom you have been dealing with so far will be there to meet you. Your new pride and joy will be waiting for you outside in an allocated collection area – different Dealerships have different ideas about what these look like but the basics are always the same, they are outside and out of the way! A signature may be required on a release document at this point, but in many cases, this will have already been sorted remotely. Your keys are given to you (but not handed to you of course!) and you can get in the car and drive off. You can, of course, ask questions if you are struggling with anything at this point – turning on the lights or connecting to the Bluetooth etc – but the salesperson helping you will do so from a safe social distance.
- The final part of the process is one that most buyers will not ever have to utilise; but it is important that every purchaser in these confusing times understands their rights. Due to any vehicle purchases being made with only remote viewings at the current time, distance selling regulations apply. The actual face value of this depends on Dealer to Dealer, but most offer somewhere between a 7 and 31 day no quibbles returns policy for the vehicle if there is an issue with it, and many also guarantee that policy for even if you simply do not like the car! As I mentioned above, this isn’t something most people will need to utilise, but its great to know as a customer that if there is a problem that you are protected. All of our partner Dealers would always work with you to resolve any issues (big or small) that you may have anyway, regardless of guarantees and distance selling regulations. We at Carsnip only want to work with the best after all!
So is it really worth buying a car right now when the processes are so different to what everyone is used to? We genuinely believe the answer is yes; as ‘Normal’ no longer looks the same. We have no idea how long the current uncertainties will last – and we believe in seizing hold of this beautiful thing called life whilst the iron is hot so to speak! We are happy to provide any help we can to our Website users, and if we can assuage any concerns for you we certainly will do! In times like these, we believe that the more help everyone can provide each other, the easier it will be to get through the times ahead. So, whether you think you are in the market for a new car or not, why not take a look at our 400,000 car selection below; but above all stay safe.
Carsnip is the UK’s largest used car search engine, with over 500,000 dealer sold used cars across the UK. We operate a natural language search engine, to help you find your perfect used car, and narrow down the choice by what’s most important to you.
About the Author
Sam Wardega is Carsnip.com’s very own in house car guru and journalist.
A lifetime Petrolhead who started with Hot Wheels aged 2, and now just spends his life savings on owning his dream cars. As they say, boys don’t stop playing with toys; they just get bigger and more expensive!