The Complications of Fake Deals: Balancing Consumer Duty and the Challenges of Identifying Misleading Offers
Silverstone Leasing

Spotting Fake Deals - Complete Guide 

Navigating the treacherous waters of the automotive industry can often feel akin to stepping into an intricate web of deception. From impossible-to-resist offers that vanish into thin air upon enquiry, to tantalising deals that have strings attached so fine they’re almost invisible to the naked eye, the deceitful tactics employed by some unscrupulous brokers can be astoundingly ingenious.

There's an age-old axiom that continues to hold relevance in this context, "If it's too good to be true, then it probably is." This phrase is especially applicable when dealing with the complex landscape of automotive sales, where counterfeit deals litter the marketplace. Indeed, one can't help but observe a steady proliferation of such deceptive offers.

In response to this, a robust mystery shopping strategy is employed. A dedicated team, embodying the role of the curious customer, undertakes rigorous investigations to ascertain the authenticity of an offer. The common thread that weaves through these investigations is the revelation of the illusion behind the alluring offers. These ‘too good to be true’ deals often prove to be a mirage. The brokers might claim that the cars have been sold or that the deals are no longer valid. The ruses employed by these brokers are as innovative as they are deceptive, perpetually morphing to deceive the unsuspecting customer better.

What drives them to resort to such cunning tactics? This is the crux of the issue. The primary motivation behind these deceptive practices is simple: to create a surge in customer calls. Once they've drawn you in with an irresistible offer, you're informed, perhaps a tad too conveniently, that the deal has expired or the cars are no longer available. This is usually followed by an attempt to ‘switch sell’ you a different vehicle, often at a considerably higher price.

Consider this as an illustrative example:

The frustration that accompanies the uncovering of such deceitful deals is palpable. The question arises: why advertise an offer you're fully aware you can't deliver? Such practices not only deceive potential customers but also taint the industry's reputation as a whole. The charlatans perpetuating such schemes do nothing but tarnish the industry’s reputation.

 

So, to help you navigate this labyrinth of deception, we've compiled our top ten tips to help you distinguish between genuine and fraudulent deals:

  1. The ‘Sold Out’ Strategy: This is a classic bait and switch tactic. The broker thanks you for your interest, only to inform you that the car you enquired about has been sold. They then proceed to introduce a different car, often with a higher price tag due to ‘residual values’. This is a typical red flag for a fraudulent deal.

  2. The Metallic Paint Con: This involves an advertised rental price that doesn't include the cost of metallic paint. The dealer then claims to be sold out of solid colours, thereby necessitating an additional charge for the metallic paint. This is a clear case of deceit, as the typical monthly cost for metallic paint ranges from £5 to £10, depending on the brand. A demand for an additional £40 reeks of fraud.

  3. Premature Credit Checks: Be wary if the broker insists on setting up the financing before even discussing the quotations and offers. They might seek to secure approval and then employ scare tactics to retain you. They might argue that seeking offers elsewhere would result in further checks on your credit file. It's always advisable to only disclose your details once you're sure the deal has been confirmed and the dealer has the car.

  4. Built and Stock Car Verification: For brands like Tesla, ask for the ‘RN number’ if the broker claims to have the car in stock. This is a unique build number, equivalent to other brands' chassis or dealer order numbers. The absence of this number usually indicates a fraudulent deal.

  5. The ‘Bedroom Broker’ refers to lone individuals operating from their bedrooms with little to no regard for customer service. Their focus is primarily on commission and units. They're usually nowhere to be found when things go wrong, starkly contrasting professional brokers who prioritise customer satisfaction.

  6. Company Verification: Legitimate brokers should be registered as limited companies at companies house. One can verify a company's legitimacy by searching for them online and viewing its financial accounts and directorial details. This allows you to confirm that you're dealing with the right team. Caution is advised when dealing with start-ups, as their lack of trading history makes it challenging to ascertain their longevity.

  7. Review Assessment: Always check the reviews on the dealer's website and Google. Look for independent feedback companies like Trust Pilot and Ekomi, which operate separately and contact each customer for a genuine review. Be wary of self-written testimonials that merely serve to boost credibility.

  8. The Presence of Negative Reviews: A collection of only positive reviews clearly indicates deceit. It's natural for a company to have negative reviews, as errors are inevitable in any business. However, a reputable broker will be completely transparent, showcasing excellent and bad reviews.

  9. Membership of Professional Associations: Ask for the membership number of the British Vehicle Rental and Leasing Association (BVRLA), a leading trade association for the vehicle rental and leasing sector in the UK. The absence of this membership number usually indicates a lack of credibility.

  10. Consult with Us: If an offer seems too good to be true, don't hesitate to contact us. Even if we cannot match or beat your quote, we can help you investigate it. We pride ourselves on transparency and integrity and are committed to treating you fairly.

  11. Check For FCA Authorisation:

    In the UK, all businesses that provide regulated financial services must be authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). This includes car leasing companies and brokers offering finance deals. The FCA sets standards for businesses to follow, which ensures they are operating ethically and within the law. It helps protect customers from fraudulent or unfair business practices.

    You can check if a broker or leasing company is FCA authorised by searching the Financial Services Register on the FCA’s website. If the business is not listed, it is a significant red flag, and you should proceed cautiously.

    An FCA-authorised company will provide clear and transparent information about its products' costs, risks, and features. This means there should be no hidden fees, the terms and conditions should be easy to understand, and you should be able to get a clear answer to any questions you have.

    Remember, FCA authorisation is a strong sign of a reputable broker. However, it is not guaranteed that a particular deal is right for you. Always be sure to do your research and understand what you are agreeing to when entering a car lease agreement.

In the pursuit of a trustworthy company that has built its reputation on trust over the years, we welcome you to contact us today at 01604 978480. We stand as a beacon of reliability amidst a sea of deception, committed to providing genuine deals that truly stand up to scrutiny.

FAQs on spotting fake deals

How do I know if a leasing broker is reputable?

    Determining the reputability of a car dealer requires a comprehensive approach. First, check their physical existence. A legitimate dealer will have a brick-and-mortar location where they display and store vehicles. However, online sales are also common now, so the lack of a physical location doesn't necessarily indicate a scam.

    Next, research their business history. Companies House offers a free service where you can check a company's registration, directors, and financial history. This can provide valuable insight into a business's stability and legitimacy.

    Online reviews also offer valuable insights. Websites like Trustpilot, Google Reviews, and Ekomi provide independent customer reviews. Pay attention not just to the positive reviews but also to how the company responds to any negative feedback.

    Finally, check for professional memberships. For UK-based dealers, membership in the BVRLA indicates adherence to industry standards. Always ask for the company's membership number and verify it with the association.

     

How can I avoid 'bait-and-switch' tactics in car sales?

    To avoid falling for bait-and-switch tactics, ensure that you have a clear understanding of the deal before you commit. Be aware that some dealers might advertise a specific car at an attractive price, only to inform you that it’s no longer available when you show interest.

    Always confirm the specifics of the deal before getting emotionally or financially invested. If the deal sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

    Also, remember that you're under no obligation to accept a different offer if the original one isn’t available. If a dealer attempts to switch you to a different vehicle, especially one with a higher price, be willing to walk away.

     

What are some red flags when dealing with a car leasing broker?

    There are several warning signs to look out for when dealing with a car broker:

    • They ask for personal financial information or a credit check before providing a quote.
    • They insist on immediate payment or a significant deposit upfront before securing a vehicle.
    • They have a majority of negative reviews or a lack of reviews online.
    • They're not registered with a professional association like the BVRLA.
    • They're not registered at Companies House, or they have a poor financial history.
    • They're unable to provide specific details about the vehicle or the deal.

     

What should I do if I suspect a deal is fraudulent?

    If you suspect a deal is fraudulent, it’s crucial not to proceed. Gather as much information as possible, such as the name of the business, the deal details, and any communications you've had.

    Next, report it to the authorities. You can report fraudulent business activities to Action Fraud. If the company is a member of the BVRLA, report the matter to them as well.

    You can also share your experience on review websites to warn others. Lastly, consult a legal professional to discuss possible remedies, especially if you've already lost money in the fraudulent deal.

     

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