Car buying services want to shake up the traditional dealership business model – but are they any good?
There are several car buying services on the market now, offering discounts and painless purchases, but are they as good as they say they are?
What is a car buying service?
Car buying services connect qualified buyers with dealers. Since they do this in bulk and put dealers into competition with one another, they might be able to secure a highly competitive discount. Other websites work by offering quick and easy quotations on novated leases.
How does a car buying service work?
Let’s compare Autogenie and Smartleasing and see how the two companies operate.
With Autogenie, buyers pay a fee of $49 to receive up to 3 quotes from dealers within 24 business hours. Autogenie says they have a network of 650 dealers nationwide.
Using the website, you enter your preferred make, model, paintwork and spec. You will then receive quotes for cars that match your preferences as closely as possible. The quoted cars will also be in the same state where possible. Buyers can test drive the cars before they purchase them and can even have the car delivered straight to their door.
The website says it makes comparing the different offers simple, and dealers only receive your information to arrange the transaction once you accept a quote. Autogenie does not process payment for the vehicle.
Note, in some cases, the offer may not be the exact vehicle you requested as a similar model might be on special offer.
Smartleasing also has a network of 650 dealers nationwide and uses their bulk purchasing power to reduce costs, but the company works differently compared to Autogenie. Where Autogenie says you get novated lease-like deals, Smartleasing actually offers them. Prices charged are all-inclusive, including finance, rego, insurance, maintenance, CTP, roadside assistance and even fuel.
A novated lease is a three-way contract between yourself, your employer and a financing company – Smartleasing in this case. Unlike Autogenie, you can purchase new or used vehicles via this site, bundle all vehicle costs into one and then knock them off your pre-tax salary. This could potentially lower your tax band.
As with Autogenie, you can arrange test drives and don’t have to deal with pushy or aggressive salespeople. The company handles your salary deductions, financing and running expenses.
How much does a car buying service cost?
Autogenie charges $49 per quotation. They also offer a 30-day money back guarantee and automatically refund buyers who do not receive at least 2 quotes from their dealer contacts.
As Smartleasing offers novated leases, there are no initial expenses and buyers effectively reduce their taxable income by offsetting it against the car lease and running costs.
Is using a car buying service actually worth it?
Reading through testimonials and reviews from actual customers, you could save money compared with approaching a dealer directly.
Based on the last 1,000 quotes given over the previous three months, Autogenie says they save customers an average of $3,200. To use the service, you pay $49, but in return, you get transparent car pricing, save time by not having to drive from dealer to dealer and don’t have to deal with salespeople.
Also, if you’re in a rush for your car, the quoted vehicles are in stock and ready for delivery. The company aims to give quotes for vehicles that are in the same state as you and delivery is included as part of the service. On the Autogenie site, they promise to offer advice via phone, email or live-chat if you’re not sure which car to go for.
So for a reasonable outlay, you are basically unlocking fleet level discounts that were only previously given to major corporations and government agencies.
Smartleasing charges a fortnightly, all-inclusive fee for your lease. This includes all running and maintenance costs. Prices increase with higher specification and premium models as well as your annual kilometres limit. Drivers will appreciate the all-inclusive rates, with the added advantage of offsetting your taxable income.
How do I find a good car buying service?
Go online, check out the company’s website and read the terms of service. You should also make sure you read actual customer reviews on forums like Whirlpool. Look for people who can relate their unfiltered and independent experiences with a car buying service.