Car Mechanics

Dealer’s Diary

Trade sale trap

▶ Human nature being what it is, it’s usually not the 95% of good customers one remembers long-term, but the 5% who try it on. Jane and her husband Robert (not their real names) were two such who I’m still slightly annoyed about – though it happened six years ago!

The car was a 2009 Vauxhall Corsa 1.3 CDTi – so five-years-old then. These were around in quantity but also good sellers due to £30-a-year road tax. Mine was an ex-police undercover car and OK – it had a few typical use marks but was sound. I priced it at £2995.

When Jane called, it seemed a normal retail enquiry – a couple of questions about condition, followed by the usual ‘what’s your lowest price?’ I didn’t drop a lot – there wasn’t much margin anyway and as I say, diesel Corsas were popular at the time. I quoted £2925. The next morning (Friday), she called back to say she would view later that day.

An hour later, “Robert from the *** Motor Company” called. He “had a customer waiting, would I trade the Corsa?” I replied that a retail customer was coming, he asked if he could call back “and find out if that had gone through.”

Next, Jane texted; “I’ve checked, I can’t afford what you’re asking, would you take £2700?” I declined, and heard no more.

The following morning Robert emailed: “I see your Corsa is still for sale, would you trade it? Cash, no comebacks, gone forever”. I called, the phone was answered with his company name, and I agreed a trade sale at £2750 which was actually total cost plus £150, with pick-up the following Monday.

Monday came, Robert’s son arrived, looked the car over, paid cash and drove it away. A lady was with him, but she stayed in her car throughout and I assumed she

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