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CECRA: Used car market and the perception of the consumers

Used car market and the perception of the consumers On 2nd March 2015, the European Commission published its long-awaited report on the functioning of the market for second-hand cars from a consumer perspective. The study covered purchases of second-hand cars by consumers from franchise dealers, independent dealers and auctions (private sales of second-hand cars between … Continued

Used car market and the perception of the consumers

On 2nd March 2015, the European Commission published its long-awaited report on the functioning of the market for second-hand cars from a consumer perspective.

The study covered purchases of second-hand cars by consumers from franchise dealers, independent dealers and auctions (private sales of second-hand cars between individuals were not included). It focused on dealers’ practices and compliance with the existing regulatory framework for selling second-hand cars, consumers’ ability to make informed choices with the information they receive prior to purchase and at the point of sale, as well as problems experienced by consumers.

The 471 page document (key-findings) gave particular attention to the prevention of odometer fraud, the provision of information concerning legal and commercial guarantees, best practices in the used car market, and cross-border trade.

The Commission’s report is the result of a study which launched at the end of 2013, in view of the fact that, over a period of three years, the used car market consistently received the lowest score on the Commission’s Consumer Markets Scoreboard. The Scoreboard ranks specific consumer markets according to how well they perform for consumers with regard to comparability, trust, problems and complaints, overall satisfaction, switching and choice.

Following the publication of the 8th Consumer Markets Scoreboard in December 2012, CECRA contacted the Commission to provide its feedback on the results. CECRA also provided its input as part of the research leading up to the publication of the final report. In particular, CECRA pointed out that some illegal practices, such as odometer fraud, are carried out by both used car dealers and private individuals. This has been highlighted by the Commission :”while the focus of this report is on sales of second-hand cars from trade sources, the role of private sales should also be kept in mind by national authorities, especially since these undermine the good reputation and best practices of certain, mostly authorised, car dealers. This is especially the case in some Eastern European countries, as certain stakeholders indicated.”

In order to improve the image of the used car market, CECRA has long been a supporter of measures tackling odometer fraud and has recently co-signed a joint appeal urging policymakers to tackle the problem.

CECRA also helped the Commission by indicating the best practices from its national associations, including conciliation mechanisms and model contracts for used car sales that are used by professionals who belong to a national association. These best practices were mentioned in the Commission’s report, which argues that “independent dealers and auctions can benefit to some extent by learning from the best practices employed by franchise dealerships.”

Another important element highlighted in the final report is the information that consumers need to have when purchasing a used car. Even if it is clear that the professionals must provide the consumers with a detailed information, CECRA believes that it is also important for Member States to better inform their consumers about the exact content of the guarantees they receive, as these guarantees do not always cover everything that could happen to the car.

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