Online shopping has become the norm when it comes to retail, with internet sales rising to over a quarter of total retail sales in the UK. You can buy everything online, from books and electronics to handmade gifts and furniture – and today, you can even buy a car.
Buying a car online might seem a little unorthodox, especially when cars should only really be purchased after thorough inspection and testing. But shopping for a car online can be uniquely convenient if you know what you are doing. Here are some key things for you to consider before buying online.
Your Rights as a Buyer
Firstly, it is important for you to understand exactly what your rights are as a consumer when buying online. The Consumer Contracts Regulations came into force in 2014, replacing the Distance Selling Regulations with a more comprehensive set of rules that protect you as a buyer.
The chief element you need to understand is your right to return. For a vast majority of products bought online, the seller must extend to you a 14-day cancellation policy, in which the item can be returned and refunded in full. This means you are not locked into any online car purchase; if it arrives and tests poorly, or is not as you expected, you can return it with ease.
The most important early-stage variable for your online car purchase is the budget. You need to know what you can afford in advance – especially before you potentially agree to a long-term financing agreement. Your budget will also, necessarily, have an impact on the kind of car you will be purchasing. You should already have an idea of the kind of car you’re looking for, based on core needs such as commuting or the school run. Your budget will help you prioritise your needs, and ensure you meet core requirements first.
If you find a vehicle you are interested in buying, you should first do your due diligence with regard to the seller. If the seller is a reputable car dealership, you can look for positive testimonials from previous customers on review websites, or investigate their policies in relation to warranty. For private sellers, this is a little trickier; you may be able to verify their identity on social media, or by asking for proof of ID. This way, you can eliminate the possibility of being defrauded by an online alias.
A hpi check is a valuable tool when buying a used car as it can tell you a lot about the history of the vehicle. By checking the history of the car, you can be sure that it has not been stolen, involved in an accident or written off by the insurance company.
After having verified the legitimacy of your seller, you should turn to verifying the legitimacy of the used car you are looking to buy. There are several documents you should be able to view relating to the car, and which the seller should be able to provide to you with no issues. These documents include the vehicle’s MOT certificate, service history and the V5C – the most important document, which confirms the car’s model and chassis frame number, as well as vehicle ownership history. If the seller is unable to provide these, or the information does not match up with the seller’s story, the car should be avoided.