Campaign Direct: Shopping With Campaign - Buying cars online

In this month’s Shopping with Campaign, Eleanor Trickett vents her concern at the apparent ease with which one can make a major purchase over the internet.

In this month’s Shopping with Campaign, Eleanor Trickett vents her

concern at the apparent ease with which one can make a major purchase

over the internet.





I’ve seen the Vauxhall ad and, frankly, I’m worried. The one in which

Griff Rhys- Jones and his offspring buy a clutch of Vauxhalls over the

internet by mistake.



Is it really that easy? It is a particular worry to someone like me who

is likely to drunkenly surf the net, end up at Amazon and promptly

forget about it until the following week when it transpires that I have

bought all six volumes of Chicken-Sexing, Intermediate Level.



So I check out the Vauxhall site, armed with the company credit card,

while taking some time out to see if it is the only car manufacturer

that allows you to buy cars online.



The first thing that occurs on entering the site is that you have to be

good at following detailed instructions and know how a website works in

order to buy a car. (On the other hand, if you are not au fait with such

things, perhaps you shouldn’t be put in charge of a moving vehicle at

all.)



The site formulaically takes me through a process of customising my

chosen car (three-door Corsa, Star Silver with Regurgitated Fish Pie

trim*), then takes me through to the finance bit alarmingly quickly.

Can’t they tell I’m only joshing?



Er, yes, apparently they can. After about one hour trying to get through

the financing page, only to get the ’bad URL’ message - even trying on

our internet editor’s PC, I give up.



Unlike the online car supermarkets - masters of the pile-it-high,

sell-it-cheap method - I expected something a little more personal from

Vauxhall.



I never really had the feeling that they were trying to build a

relationship with me; it all seemed so ... sudden, somehow. A girl wants

to be wooed before she jumps into bed with someone, but this felt a bit

like a one-night stand followed by a dawn flit.



At least Vauxhall’s claim was right.



It does appear to be the only car manufacturer that sells cars over the

net. But I decide to check out some car supermarkets for my Vauxhall

Corsa.



Autobytel, which is staggeringly quick, easy and efficient, gives me

more information about Vauxhall cars than the Vauxhall site. The

financing instructions are also much quicker and more straightforward,

with more options. This site knocks Vauxhall’s into a cocked hat.



As does Autohit. It has independent reviews of the car and a cute little

menu called ’kicking the tyres’. Forget the specialists, I say, head to

the big guys.



PS. To update Claire Beale’s Shopping with Campaign (5 November), may we

congratulate Pret a Manger, Hammersmith, for addressing her complaint

about the lack of milk in her filter coffee. They now give you little

espresso cups full of milk so you can put as much or as little in as you

like. Now that’s customer service.



*Not strictly true.



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