I know that the headline screams EGO and most of you will be put off by it. Please believe me when I tell you that this piece is a must read for anyone selling their car or anyone planning to buy a used car. I am not here to impart wisdom to you but I will share my experiences in selling used cars and finding out who bought them and for how much, all due to quirks of fate. I usually write long rambling stories that go on and on but this one will be quite short and pithy, and if my experience is anything to go by it will also be the most important piece that I have ever written.
I am bit of a vehicles buff. My first love has always been motorcycles but advancing age and near crippling injuries have kicked me upstairs in life and made me a serious enough connoisseur of cars as well. I have thus far in life owned 6 cars and 11 two wheelers. I will leave out my experiences of selling two wheelers because they do not fall under organized used vehicle trade and my experiences there may not have universal validity. However, cars is a different ball game altogether, now that it is an organized business selling used cars with dealers of manufacturers directly getting involved in the buying and selling.
I will list out three experiences here which were pure fate and one that was by design. But before that I must tell you that I am compulsive buyer of new vehicles and have faced huge losses in the transactions which involved selling an old car and getting a new one. I once had a Maruti Omni but the lack air-conditioning in it and the increase of atmospheric pollution that was troubling my grandmother who had a respiratory disorder forced me to look for another car. By then the Omni was two years old and had done 4000 odd kilometres. My fanaticism of vehicles borders on Obsessive Compulsive Disorder which means that they are spic, span and shining. I went to the Maruti dealer from whom I purchased the Omni and asked him if he could sell it for me so that I could buy a Wagon R which had just been launched. The dealer agreed but in those days Maruti True Value did not yet make its debut and so he sent for an evaluator who pegged the price of the vehicle at Rs. 1.5 lakhs (this was in the year 2000). Not being the sort of person who haggles and impatient to get a new car I agreed for the deal and bought myself a Wagon R. Two years later I received a challan from the police saying that I had run a red signal. I went to the Traffic police commissioner’s office to plead that I did not own the vehicle anymore. I was firmly told that the Transport Authority’s office was still showing that I was the owner and the office also gave me a piece of information saying that it is the responsibility of the seller also to ensure that the vehicle is transferred to the new owner. He also gave me a piece of advice saying that I should get the vehicle transferred for if it got involved in an accident I would become a party to legal proceedings since technically the still the owner of the vehicle.
Armed with this information and advice that scared the living daylights out of me, I went in search of the evaluator who apparently sold my vehicle. I had not seen the new owner nor did I have document that said that I had sold the vehicle. Fortunately the evaluator who had now become a dealer of another brand of cars had the document of sale with him. It contained the address of the buyer and so I went in search of him. When I found him I asked him how much he had paid for the Omni and he said “Rs.2.2 lakhs”. Rs. 70 K more than what I got for it. After using the Wagon R for 5 years I once again felt the need to buy another car. My father who continued to love the Wagon R insisted that I buy another Wagon R. By this time Maruti True Value had been set up and they took it off my hand for Rs. 2 Lakhs despite it being five years old and having done nearly 40,000 kms. Then my friend who was passing by the True Value dealership saw the car standing there and asked them how much the price was. Rs. 2.4 lakhs was the reply. Fair enough, they took the trouble of selling the car for me. I assumed that they were probably not getting what they wanted. But, they got what they wanted because my friend who was really keen on getting the car was told that the car had actually been rebored and refurbished and so they will not sell it for less. The car was in perfect condition, there was nothing wrong with it, but all these stories were told. So I went to check it myself. Nothing had changed, the engine was only washed, the upholstery was the same, the tyres were the same and even the paint was untouched.
Anyway I got a new car and was happy. Two years after I got my second Wagon R, GM launched the Aveo U-VA. Since I am primarily a two wheeler person I don’t usually get turned on by cars. But for some strange reason I took a fancy to the car and decided to buy it. I asked the GM dealer to take the Wagon R of my hands. It was two years old and had done 11,000 kms. I was offered Rs. 2,10,000. I said my previous car was five years old and that it had done 40,000 kms and fetched Rs. 2 lakhs. So I was given Rs. 2, 20,000.
I loved the U-VA and it did not disappoint me in anyway. One day a friend of mine asked me to come with him for the purchase of an i10 and so I went with him. That day also happened to be the day when the i20 was launched at that dealership. Just for the heck of it I asked the dealer how much they would give me for the U-VA if I buy the i20. This particular dealer has two dealerships one for Hyundai and another for GM (they have now added BMW and Rolls Royce to their portfolio) and so I thought they would look at the U-VA sympathetically. It had done 7,000 kms and was just about two years old. I was offered Rs. 1,90,000. I said no more but recently the car completed 5 years and there has been talk of the model being discontinued so I decided to sell it. Since I wanted a more mainstream car which would fetch a better resale value I decided to go for the Vista since it is spacious and seemed better the previous Tata products. I went to the Tata dealer who took a look at my U-VA which had done 19,000 kms and he offered me Rs. 1.65 lakhs. I took the deal and he said they will treat that money as down payment.
Two days later they tell me that the car’s clutch plates were shot and so they would give me only Rs. 1.45 lakhs and since I had already started the process of purchase of a new car, I did not haggle. I took delivery of my Vista and a week later I get a phone call from the wife of a friend who told me that they had purchased my U-VA and they realized that only after the purchase was made. I asked them how much they paid. She said Rs. 2,30,000.
Sometime last year I bought my wife a Nano. She learnt how to drive and has been driving the car but she was getting a bit hassled when she had to stop on inclines and start again. In order to alleviate her tension I thought I would sell the Vista which is three months old and has done 1800 kms and get an A Star Automatic for my wife. I quite like the Nano and so I thought I will keep it and sell the Vista (petrol) so I can get enough money for a reasonable down payment for the A Star Automatic which is quite expensive. I told the Maruti dealer my plan and they came to my place to make an evaluation of the Vista. They looked at it, drove it around and told me that they would call me back in 10 minutes. And they did not call me back at all. While selling the U-VA had also gone to a Honda dealer to look at the Brio and their evaluator offered me Rs. 1.25 lakhs for the U-VA after promising to call me in 10 minutes but calling me after two weeks. In the meanwhile I had finished purchasing the Vista. I told him so and he asked the price for which I sold, and when I told him he offered me Rs. 1,70,000. I even went to check out the Beat and the GM dealer who evaluated the U-VA never even called back till two months later only to ask me when I was buying the Beat.
I had by now realized that these chappies will wait till you get desperate and will bargain you down. So when the Maruti dealer did not call, I was not surprised. But my wife waited for three days and went to the dealership and she was told by a female sales executive that they had sent me an evaluation quote by mail. I did not receive any such mail, I even check my spam box. So my wife asked for the quote and she was told Rs. 2 Lakhs. A three month old car with just about 1800kms on the odo which costs close to 5 lakhs on road was offered Rs. 2 lakhs. My indignant wife called me and asked me to speak to the lady and when I asked her why so less, she said it is a petrol car and that it is a Tata. I asked her how many A Stars they sell per month and how many of those were diesel. She said there is no diesel and that their dealership alone sells about 300 A Stars a month. I told her nationally the car sells less than one thousand units a month so how come they were selling so many on their own. She said I don’t know all that. That is when my wife and I decided to keep our cars and stop trying to do something else.
I do not like to preach, so I will not tell you anything more. You draw your inferences from my experiences. I have been a sucker willingly more than once but this time was when the proverbial last straw broke my back. Simple advice. Don’t do anything I did.
P.S: After having said things like this is going to be short article I have actually yet again written a loooooooooooong article. Apologies for that.