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Is it the end of the ‘silver-tongued’ car salesman?

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When it comes to shopping for a new (or used) car, most of us are familiar with the trials and tribulations of the dreaded forecourt.

Whether it’s dealing with a pushy salesman or finding out that the ‘bargain’ you landed is actually a lemon, finding the right car and the right price has never been easy.

But according to Andy Bruce, chief executive of popular car dealership Lookers, this is all about to change.

Bruce argues that the age of the ‘silver-tongued salesman’ is over, as more and more shoppers go online to do their research and bag a bargain, without having to deal with slick seller.

‘The battle for the customer takes place before they get near the showroom,’ says Bruce.

Lookers is aiming to turn showroom assistants into online helpers; still offering the same level of customer service, but without the pressure that comes with face-to-face negotiations.

And apparently it’s working – it’s reported that the number of visits per purchase has fallen from around 5 to 1.3.

Now it appears that other used car dealerships are following Lookers’ lead and focusing on the online customer experience.

The AA used car platform AA Cars, launched in 2013, aims to offer car shoppers peace of mind by offering them informative, reliable advice. Those looking for a used car online can find reputable local dealers, as well as genuine, unbiased user car reviews and information. The AA even offers a complimentary 26-Point History Check on each car, worth up to £20, so buyers can rest assured of the car’s safety and history.

The platform offers more than 110,000 used cars for sale from over 2,000 dealers throughout the UK.

In line with Bruce’s vision of a perfect online car purchase, AA President Edmund King compares the website to an online dating agency, matching each car carefully to the needs of the buyer, and then helping them find the perfect vendor to complete the purchase.

King says: “Ten million drivers think buying a car is a stressful experience, so we want this new service to help de-risk the often tricky process of buying a car. We want to ensure that drivers buy with their heads and not just their hearts.”

Following the recent Office of Fair Trading Report into the dangers of buying a used car, the AA said that it is attempting to create a platform that is more transparent, informative and trustworthy.

King adds: “We know from past car history checks that a third of all cars checked had a significant hidden history. In fact, 1 in 10 had outstanding finance, and some debts can result in a car being seized from the purchaser; 1 in 8 were recorded as insurance write-offs; 1 in 16 had significant mileage discrepancies – for example, the vehicle had been ‘clocked’ to show a lower mileage; while nearly 91,400 had actually been reported stolen.

“The AA will help de-stress the buying process so that drivers don’t make the biggest mistake of their lives. It’s vital that car buyers really do know what they are getting into.”

And with UK car sales hitting their highest level since 2007, it appears this new approach to customer confidence is hitting the spot.


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