For decades the auto industry has displayed a black eye due to the shady practices of used auto sales and repair shops. The hustles these shops and employees try to pull are often very subtle but can do a number on your bank account.
For 10 years I worked for a car industry magazine in Seattle, tracking all the shady deals that go on in notorious auto dealerships. What I learned is that it’s quite common to run into a myriad of sales speak and trickery, including:
· Convincing you to come to the shop to discuss the deal, which ultimately puts you in their environment and creates a lot of pressure (which you may not be able to avoid).
· Using bait-and-switch tactics to coax you into purchasing upgrades or entirely different vehicles because “it’s not available” or whatever other excuse for driving you away from the original promise.
· Taking advantage of unknowing automobile owners into purchasing parts that aren’t truly needed at the time or selling premium packages that do the same as the basics.
But what I also learned during my time at the magazine, is that this type of shady business is coming to an end.
Consumers are learning that the Internet is an amazing resource for doing due diligence and obtaining the best offers when in the market for a new automobile or in if they’re in need of service.
Let’s compare the process:
In the 1980s you were likely to rely on yearly publications, such as the Kelly Blue Book, to understand the value of cars. Magazines were available, of course, but the average auto buyer wasn’t likely to subscribe since it’s not a frequent purchase. People would need to rely on a mixture of word-of-mouth recommendations, consumer reports, and news related to the auto dealerships or repair shops. Relaxed rules and laws of commerce meant you weren’t very well protected from shady practices. Likewise, your selection of vehicles during that time weren’t exactly the greatest.
In the 2010s, we now have an immense amount of information about vehicles and services. It’s quite easy to do a generalized Google search to discover what may be wrong with your vehicle or to find reputable dealers in the area based on online ratings and reviews. It’s equally easy to get in touch with auto owners to hear their experience and opinions. Word-of-mouth is easy due in part to social media. Increased regulation and technological developments have produced many a new automobile that would be solid investments – at a fair price. Websites and services allow shoppers to do quick and easy cross comparison evaluations without the hassle of being on the lot.
As you can see – this change in how consumers gain access to information is forcing those businesses that conduct shady practices out of the market.
Information is power when it comes to operating an ethical, well-respected business. FixCarNow auto repair is a great example of information transparency. FixCarAuto uses its web tools to share the full process within their service listings, which consumers can print out and verify when they’re in the shop.
It’s this transparency that helps businesses like these thrive while the snake oil salesmen fade.
Leveraging the web to show transparency in business helps customers understand what’s to be expected. The use of content to give the business a real touch takes the sleaze out of the process. A high amount of star ratings on review websites also does wonders in search results and customer satisfaction, since they’re laid out in detail by others rather than being spun by the sales department.
In all, the web has ousted those in the industry who subscribe to the snake oil mentality. Consumers are better prepared than ever before and because businesses know this – it forces them to bring their A game. In the end, it’s win/win for consumers and businesses.