buying a car online
17 May

Buying Your Next Car Over the Internet

Like most, when we start to think about our next car we go to the internet for advice. We read reviews of specific models appealing to our lifestyle, try to find out what’s the lowest price we should be paying, which dealerships in town have better reviews, and so on and so forth. For most people it is still a scary proposition to visit a dealership and be subjected to the back-and-forth of negotiations. They would rather walk on hot coals, juggling Samurai swords, than “be introduced to a Sales Manager”. We all look to the dealer to give their expert opinion on what car would suit our needs, and then leave us to make a decision whether we want to buy it or not.

Thankfully, car makers are clamoring for our business, enticing us to buy or lease new vehicles with deep factory incentives. More and more independent and franchise dealerships are paying attention to their online reputation and customer feedback, and they are trying to engage with us via social media.

How we are being sold our next vehicle is evolving. We are now unquestionably in the smart phone era. 10,000 vehicles bought and sold just through the eBay Motors iPhone app each week. Yes there are exotics, classics, and one-off vehicles on there, but for the most part the type of cars that are being sold are commuter cars, minivans, pick-up trucks, new and used family sedans. There, we can read about the actual car that we know is still available (advantages of live listings format), often there are 40-50 photos, even of details/blemishes that may have never even seen if the car was bought in person after work).

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We can also find out about the dealer presenting the vehicle. eBay’s transaction based feedback scoring system is a powerful tool to help buyers discern a dealer’s reputation. They can only get a feedback if they have actually sold and delivered a car. Keeping in mind that some sales are completed outside of eBay, Feedback rating still gives a pretty good idea of how well a dealer is likely to take care of their customers. Not to forget eBay’s Vehicle Purchase Protection program. This is an exclusive solution against losses associated with on-site transactions in certain situations such as the vehicle not showing up as described, or without a title. Basically, an in-built “peace of mind” component of buying a car through eBay, that we could hardly find if we walk into a dealership.

Ultimately, finding the right car is no longer limited to the neighborhood dealerships’ inventory. Most of the reputable dealers have people and processes in place to help buyers with shipping, titling, and financing through state lines. The Vehicle Buyer Services hub also helps to shop for a car fully informed.

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Category: Community

Comments (5)

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  1. Angie Pierce says:

    Great article & lots of useful information. Using eBay as a marketing tool allows us car dealers to reach so many more customers. I personally do the same thing when I make a big buying decision… I do my research, comparison shop & always look at customer feedback before going out to make the purchase. Technology today makes it easy for us to do this on our own and we can do it from anywhere so it is convenient. I appreciate the support & customer service eBay provides and will continue to list our inventory because it works!

  2. bryce davis says:

    There is alot of sellers still shill bidding on their own merchandise to drive up the auctions, how can we combat that. I actually know some who have friends who will bid on their behalf, if the auction isnt moving up.

    • Justin Petrovay says:

      Thank you for voicing your concern. There is a lot of buzz about shill bidders on the eBay forums. But in actuality, shill bidding isn’t that common and is rather easily detected. Those who engage in shill bidding receive warnings or an indefinite suspension of their account. Dealers invest a lot of time and resources to list their inventories, it doesn’t make financial sense to get involved with shill bidding. If you think you see shill bidding taking place on a listing, report it using the Security Center Link at the bottom of most pages.

  3. tony b says:

    Welcome to the real world
    Shill bidding goes on at dealer auctions, and some of the big ones like RM, Barrett-Jackson, etc. I was a retail dealer and saw many sellers bidding on their own cars. Thats the way it is.

  4. Publisher issues says:

    In March of 2010 eBay made some fee changes that may have been great for ebay and car buyers/sellers but the changes decimated the earnings of many a content publisher in the ebay partner network(epn) program. The following are still a problem

    - Sales closing off ebay
    - Up front fees are NOT included in publisher winning bid revenue
    - Seller deals to avoid closing fees
    - Seller deals to avoid fees altogether

    Why are these a HUGE problem for EPN publishers? Because they result in clicks to ebay, and quite often bids on ebay, with zero chance of earning anything. That’s doubly harsh because the new quality click pricing will see that as a publisher driving no “incremental value” and EPN then slams publisher revenue to the penny click range.

    Are there ANY plans to ensure that motors publishers who promote vehicles on behalf of ebay do not end up hurting their own earnings in the process with the above?

    Suggestions: INCLUDE listing fees in publishers winning bid revenue if a sale has no closing fees, the publisher still helped find the buyer. Restore the old system, a flat rate would be much more appreciated than a random amount given how hard it can be to entice car buyers.

    Thank you.

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