This time last year we ran a piece about the dodgy practice of vehicle matching (Car “matchmakers” are on the prowl, beware!) where some ‘sales advisor’ purporting to represent a company which puts buyers and sellers together, has seen a sellers car advertised on line and says he has a committed buyer for their car. Great news! Only there is an upfront fee of £100 to introduce the buyer and of course that buyer never exists and the seller loses his £100 pretty much as easy as that! Having warned people that the this scam was operating and costing people £000s we hoped that the relevant authorities would take action and do their very best to close down these rogue traders. However in reality, despite warnings from the major advertising sites, the practice continues unabated and is probably growing. People are still handing over money in the misguided belief that there will be a paying customer at the end of the transaction.
In a recession, as we are always saying, people have to be more on their guard than ever, and with the OFT receiving nearly 70,000 complaints a year purely about used cars – and these are from people who bothered to complain or who knew who to complain to so it may just be the tip of an unpleasant iceberg – the situation will only worsen if consumers do not take steps to protect themselves.
If someone cold calls you informing you that they have a buyer for your car and they want money up front, discontinue the call as there will be no buyer. If a company genuinely had a buyer they would happily ask you to sign an agreement so they could collect their fee once the transaction was complete. In our experience companies which source cars for customers and charge a fee would buy the car and then charge their commission to their own buyer, not demand a fee from the seller.
If you work to the old adage that if something appears too good to be true, it usually is, then you won’t go far wrong, and with a dearth of used cars about anyway, if a car is priced, prepared and presented correctly it will almost always sell no matter what.
These sharks prey on the desperate so there is no point adding to the misery by being had by con-men, and the secret of how they do it is that they never ask for vast sums but just enough to hook people.
Like car sales in general it’s a numbers game, the more people they approach the more chance of making money, don’t be fooled and if someone does call offering this ‘service ‘ make sure the next call you make is to the OFT!