Car Buyers' Guide: A change of mind can be costly

By Jack Biddle

Don't blame the dealer, and take the wife's advice

The Alfa Romeo Mito  and the Toyota 86(below).
The Alfa Romeo Mito and the Toyota 86(below).

William from Tokoroa is well retired, loves sporty cars and is a little on the impulsive side.

In February 2012, he purchased a demonstrator Toyota 86 sports coupe (registered in 2011) as his dream car. Seven months later the Toyota 86 was traded in for a demonstrator Alfa Romeo Mito that he only saw in photos, not in the flesh.

"My wife said at the time I should take the car for a drive as she didn't think I would like it. I decided to ignore her advice and simply handed over the agreed $6000 changeover cost and took delivery of it," said William.

But after a week, William missed the 86 and wanted to swap back. He later negotiated to hand over the Alfa and buy back the Toyota for an additional cost of $5000 because of paint work on the 86.

William asks if the second changeover cost was fair.

"The Toyota was, in my mind, in very good condition when I handed it over but I do accept there would be some costs incurred by the dealer and for the inconvenience caused," says William.

There are no winners in this situation, William. The dealer can easily be made out to look the bad guy. However this experience could have been avoided if you had taken your wife's advice and driven the Mito before agreeing to the changeover.

Your experience with the Mito should not be seen as a poor reflection of the car either - it simply wasn't "you".

This is what buying is all about, exploring the various options out there and deciding which make/model best suits your needs, especially so with sporty looking vehicles where potential buyers are more likely to be car enthusiasts and boxes like driving comfort, performance and style need to be ticked.

And the only way to be completely satisfied you are making the correct decision is to get behind the wheel and drive the vehicle for a reasonable distance.

It's common knowledge that in most cases once you drive away from the showroom a car's value automatically depreciates.

When buying a new car it pays to do your own research and put all the marketing hype to the test to either confirm or dispel any initial excitement a vehicle may provide.

And in your case, William, the dealer would have also looked at what they considered a fair changeover price when they negotiated the initial sale of the Mito.

Yes, there was the potential for the dealer to make a quick profit if the Toyota 86 sold quickly, but the longer a vehicle sits on a used car yard the more likelihood there is of a price reduction and therefore a much reduced profit margin.

Once again it always pays to do a little homework on current values beforehand and have some idea of what a fair changeover figure might be.

I always tell people it's impossible to offend a car salesperson, so rejecting their first offer can sometimes lead to a sharpening of the pencil from their side.

The new car industry is so competitive at the moment that it's unlikely a streetwise buyer will pay too much for a vehicle of their choice.

But again I reiterate the fact that once the deal is done, the cost of selling a short time after purchase is, in most cases, going to inflict severe financial pain.

Remember also, while vehicles like the Mito and 86 may be head-turners on the street, they don't sell in huge numbers (last calendar year 33 Mitos and 251 Toyota 86s were registered).

On paper the dealer may have done well financially, but in reality they still have to move on a car that has had multiple owners over a short period and is competing with new and ex-demonstrator models at competitive retail prices.

In future let the heart rate settle a little before you make a snap decision. And dare I say it: listen and take on board what the other half is saying occasionally.

- NZ Herald

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