Car Buying Behaviour & Scams

Further to the last post, I’ve seen some interesting things about car selling in the last three weeks.

Initially I put my motor up for sale at the wrong price – right age, but no adjustment for the very high mileage (it’s probably the highest mileage VX in captivity in fact). Anyway in three weeks of web and paper adverts I only got one private buyer make contact – and he turned out to be a “tyre-kicker” not yet beyond deciding if and whether to buy any particular kind of sportscar – with no prior research on VX ownership, and no apparent funding.

Apart from that I had a 8 or 10 so-called matching agencies mail and call (many claiming to be different companies from very similar looking phone numbers BTW) – maybe you know the kind of thing “send us your money – we have customers ready and waiting for exactly the car you’re selling”. Er yeah, right. Why would any customer using a web-based car location service, not actually use the web just to search for used (pre-owned) cars for sale anyway ?

One “selling agent” who seems genuine, and doesn’t make such ludicrous claims is Danny Neville.

The other interesting contacts were two separate instances of the overseas buyer scam – seemingly originating in African countries. The deal is someone mails you, saying they are from abroad and says they are prepared to buy your car unseen, securing it for a little more than your asking price, and they will have one of their clients in your country send you a cheque, for that value plus the cost of shipping. When you get it (and the cheque has cleared into your own account, and you are still in posession of your car) you are asked to send the shipping fee (your money) to their agent. The scam is that having a cheque “clear” into your account, is no protection if the cheque itself is a forgery apparently. Apparently the bank clearing system that clears an apparently valid cheque into your account in about 3-days, doesn’t cover you for the fact the issuing bank can still reject it up to ten days later if they detect it’s a forgery. Despite the offer being too good to be true, for any sophisticated target to fall for it, the scam is very tempting because it’s hard to spot where the catch is, if you don’t know the clearing rules.

Interestingly having spotted the scams, I offerred a trading standards agency that I should go along with them up to the point of receiving the forged cheque – but they say even with that, it is impossible to track down and prosecute the perps. Oh well.

Since putting the car up again at the right price, things have been totally different. Within a few hours of putting up the new ad (and putting the car into the garage for it’s service and MoT certification, on the same day !) I had a dozen, maybe 15 different private and a few trade buyers make contact – most claiming cash or other secure finance at or near the asking price, and asking detailed questions that showed significant prior research on the model and condition for its age – all wanting to view ASAP. Between Tuesday and Friday (Saturday I left for Shanghai) I had to juggle daylight viewing appointments with getting the car back from the garage – and many new prospects I simply had to put off – in fact after all that hassle, the first guy to make contact, got the first viewing, and agreed to buy for cash. Deal done.

(Whilst that might give the impression it sold too cheap – the behaviour I couldn’t work out was that for three weeks previously the car had been advertised at about 15% higher price and not one person had even suggested an offer near the actual selling price – weird.)

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