FailCar on: getting flogged

General Bunk
He's back! In his first update of 2013, FailCar is having a moan about the torture of selling cars. Once you've read it, you may never want to sell a car ever again.

I often emerge when I have either had a brilliant idea or have something motoring-related to moan about. This time it’s the latter and it’s something that’s bothered me for years and seems to get very little exposure in the motoring press.

When it comes to buying a car I have harped on before about how I often find it hard to trust dealers, especially those who are selling sub £5k cars and are trying to make as big a margin possible. Prior experience at such dealers has basically put me of completely.

But while many of us moan about poor dealer experience, rarely do we hear the stories at the other end of the scale and that, while the people selling the cars may have a bad reputation, it pales in comparison to my experience with... buyers.

Car Salesman

Those of you who often buy and sell cars like myself, because you have a sick fascination with buying old (but lovable) crap boxes and playing with them, will have no doubt experienced the joys of going through selling a car.

First you have the fun and games of deciding where would be best to sell the thing – an owners' forum? Auto Trader? Car & Classic? Maybe eBay would be best? Then you have to clean it, take some pictures and trawl through paperwork to make a decent ad. It’s a faff, but it's all nothing compared to the bit you have to deal with next.

“Please give me your bank details”

No matter where the car gets listed you’re going to get an email from someone who loves the car but, as they are based overseas, will require you to hand over some bank details. I can’t help but think that these guys might actually stand a chance of scamming people if they at least enquired about how they were going to actually obtain the car.

“Alright M8 – wot iz the lowerest you can go on price”

Well gee wizz old chap why don’t you come and at least look at the car before trying to negotiate? Perhaps ask a question or two regarding the condition and paperwork and then at least attempt to chuck in an offer. In this case I always ignore, or say the car has been sold. Bloody muppets.

“I can pay cash”

This is usually preceded by making an offer that is at least one thousand pounds less than the asking price. I’ve never received payment for a car in anything other than cold, hard cash so why would this magical offer suddenly make me drop everything and ‘OMG! Cash money yo? For real, have it for half of what it’s worth, by the way do you sell magic beans?’ Head, meet wall.

“Do you want to px/swap”

These guys do in fairness provide a high calibre level of entertainment as they proceed to offer you a car worth around a third of what you are selling. Notable items have included a 240,000 mile Passat with 18-inch chrome aftermarket rims and a burgundy Mk1 Laguna with what can only be described as serious colour matching issues. If you have had more entertaining px offers I want to hear about it.

At least there is one redeeming feature about these complete numpties - not meeting them face to face and the ability to snuff them out before precious evening and weekend time is eaten into. The same however cannot be said of the next group who are such a joy in the world of motor trading that their name has become a cliché.


Timewasters of course get their name because as soon as you are dealing with one you can literally see the sands of time disappearing through your hands and destroying any plans you had for the weekend. In their spare time they probably set off pedestrian crossings after they have already crossed and then get off on seeing the stationary traffic. The idiots.

Sadly, most timewasters perhaps do not realise they come under the classifieds classic turn of phrase ‘no timewasters’. Based on experience I have decided to categorise them and maybe in future we can all use such classifications to eliminate these unpleasant time lords.


This is one creature I truly struggle to get my head around as out of all of them it seems the most illogical. I quite often see cars I like on eBay and like to keep my finger on the pulse like many of us do, to get an idea of the going rate of motors in the classic car market. Mostly because many of car the mags spout utter tripe when it comes to the price you can pick up a decent classic up for. Apparently, if one recent edition of a popular monthly is to believed, you can pick up a 205 GTi for... £5,500. Mental. Anyway I digress. The Oneclickasaurous, rather than adding to a watch list, he instead places a bid, even if he has no intention of progressing with the purchase. When the bidding is won you have just wasted a seven-day listing. Yay.


This is the first of the guys who actually show up, but sadly are not the most clued up and proceed to expect completely irrational things of the vehicle being sold. This I experienced at its best with a guy who twice came to view a E46 3 Series I was selling. The first time he liked the car but decided to do some more research and come back. Odd, but I accepted.

On return he drove the car around the block keeping an eye on the trip MPG. After driving it from cold for approximately a third of a mile he concluded that the car was not achieving the official extra urban 48mpg and he was, according to the car, only getting 27. Things proceeded to get awkward when I laughed in his face, assuming he was joking...


Poor old petrodamus, who manages to completely avoid thinking about the simple factors of buying a car. You know, things like how he is going to finance the purchase and the subsequent insurance. Instead, he chooses to waste your evening, dinner and petrol and life.

They can’t actually afford to insure the vehicle or, even more mind boggling, cannot stump up the finances to buy the vehicle. WHY ARE YOU HERE!? I’m always far too polite with this lot and end up saying ‘ok, bye’ but from now on I pledge to make an effort to give these guys and earful, it’s really not on and far too often these guys get let off lightly.

I want to hear your stories in the comments as, while I may have some animosity when it comes to certain car dealers, I think it’s only fair to hear some of the greatest stories relating to the gargantuan headache buyers cause and I’m betting some of you out there have some cracking stories to tell...