The online car buying service Webuyanycar.com has been ‘misleading’ customers by paying hundreds of pounds less than its valuation of cars online.
This is according to an investigation by the Office of Fair Trading which has forced the company to be more transparent with its pricing.
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An investigation found that nearly 96% of customers who sold their car to Webuyanycar.com received less for their vehicle than the original website valuation.
Customers were lead to believe they would be paid the online valuation if the company’s onsite inspection matched the condition entered by the seller condition.
However, they were informed when they arrived at their appointment that other factors reduced the final price, including ‘marketing conditions’.
The OFT also reported that vehicle inspectors for the company were instructed to set targets regarding the purchase of vehicles to reduce the valuation originally offered, sometimes by as much as 25%.
To put pressure on customers and get them into showrooms, sellers were informed that the quote would be valid for just seven days.
The Senior Director of the OFT’s Consumer, Cavendish Elithorn said: ‘Selling personal possessions through the internet is increasingly popular, especially in these tough economic times.
“But it’s important that the headline figure isn’t chipped away at by the buyer, because it makes it very difficult for consumers to shop around and find the best deal’.
Changes to operations
Webuyanycar.com has cooperated with the OFT’s investigation, and agreed to make changes in response to the reports findings.
The company has been told to include a promise to make clear that the website valuation is not a price at which the company is offering to buy the consumer’s car and that a range of other
factors might be taken into account.
The company has now pledged to no longer set targets for vehicle inspectors to reduce valuations offered for inappropriate reasons.
It has also been blocked from deducting any refund available to the customer from the DVLA from the final amount.
The ruling also mean the company must make it clear to its customers that the next working day payment service, which currently costs £24.75, is not compulsory.
The investigation by The Office of Fair Trade covered Webuyanycar.com between July 2009 and June 2010.
In June last year, Webuyanycar.com was found by the Advertising Standards Authority to have misled viewers in one of its TV ads by failing to mention that an administration fee of nearly £50 was charged.