Would you pay to test drive a car?
We don’t normally read the Yorkshire Evening Post, probably because none of us live in Yorkshire, but this story about a car dealer charging an 83 year old for a test drive really caught our eye.
The pensioner in question, John Sykes, wanted to test drive a used Renault Megane car, so the Renault dealer in Otley agreed, on the proviso that he paid them £500 upfront, a sum that would be credited against his eventual car purchase. In the end, the octogenarian decided against purchasing the car, and they kept his money.
Of course, there is more to the story than that- the dealer offered him half of his money back, or the full £500 against another car, and insinuated that this wasn’t the first time Mr Sykes had changed his mind, but the wider issue is this- why on Earth would you pay for a test drive?
According to the Leeds office of Consumer Direct, this practice is not illegal and is not unheard of if a dealer is getting a car in for you from somewhere else. However, the statutory rights attaching to the payment would only cover you if the car was faulty or not as described, meaning the dealer can legitimately keep your money to cover their ‘costs’ if you change your mind or just don't like it. And surely the point of a test drive is to see if you like it?
However, as I understand the business of buying cars, they are supposed to sell you the car- you are not supposed to pay them for the privilege of offering you one? Why would anyone risk any amount of money on a car they had never even seen in the metal, let alone sat in or drove round. Is this charge for testing only levied on the old and/or daft? After all, as our Consumer Direct manager friend says, you wouldn’t pay to go and view a potential house purchase would you? Avid Bitterwallet readers would never forget that they are the customer and the dealer wants (a lot more of) your money far more than you want to give it to them.
So what do you think? Have you ever been asked to pay for a test drive? Would you? Is this just a Yorkshire thing, along with flat caps and pudding you eat with your dinner?