It’s been more than 20 years since George Cole graced our screens as the wheeler-dealer Arthur Daley but it seems that the image of used car salesmen as dodgy backstreet scammers is still alive and well.
In fact, the British public trust second-hand car sellers even less than bankers and estate agents.
According to the latest market report from Autotrader, only 7 per cent of British consumers say they trust used car dealerships, ranking it as the least-trusted industry in the country.
The survey of 5,000 consumers found that the used-car market was trusted 11 per cent less than the financial sector and four per cent less than estate agents - giving an idea of just how bad its reputation is.
However, when the study asked about buyers’ previous experience the statistic was turned on its head, with more than two thirds (68 per cent) said they had a significant level of trust in the dealer and only 7 per cent saying they didn’t trust the person they bought their last car from.
Autotrader’s operations director, Nathan Coe, insisted that the problem was one of perception rather than reality.
He said: “Despite most consumers having positive experiences at the dealership, the industry still suffers with a lack of trustworthiness which resonates strongly with consumers.
“Changing these perceptions will be a challenge but the reward could be substantial for the industry.”
The Autotrader report says that a lack of transparency in online research could be partly to blame for the continued poor perception of the industry.
With buyers spending an average of 11 hours online researching their purchase this is a big problem for traders, especially as just 22 per cent said they fully trusted dealerships’ websites.
The report found that a fifth of buyers claimed to have found vague or misleading information regarding the buying process and 42 per cent said that this had made the whole process more stressful.
More than a third (36 per cent) said that a lack of transparency had actually put them off buying a car altogether.
Sue Robinson, director of the National Franchised Dealers Association, said: “Now more than ever, the majority of customers will ensure they have taken into account every single detail before committing to a big purchase. Having clear, accurate and honest information is vital in today’s market.
“A more transparent approach would help improve perceptions and benefit both consumers and businesses.”