Monday, February 15, 2010

Private sale

The private vendor is often sought out by potential buyers because it is assumed that the prices involved in a private transaction will always be lower than those asked by dealers. Not necessarily so, for a variety of reasons. Many vendors, misinterpreting (genuinely or otherwise) classic car value guides or insurance agreed values, ascribe ridiculously high values to their cars. Many vendors are loathe to sell their beloved Beetles but are forced to by financial circumstances beyond their control and such people are prone to add a degree of 'sentimental' value to the actual value of the car when arriving at an asking price. Some private vendors are simply avaricious and are prepared to keep their Beetles on the market until they find a buyer foolish enough to pay their inflated asking prices.
Buying from a private vendor can sometimes resultin your getting a bargain, but the practice does carry huge risks. Private vendors of many products, certainly within the UK, are not subject to the stringent consumer protection laws by which a business selling the same item would have to abide. In the case of a privately sold motor vehicle it is still (at the time of writing) an offence to misrepresent it, but unless the misrepresentation has been published in an advertisement then there is no proof of any such offence. If the vendor gives you a verbal rather than a written assurance that the bodywork is sound yet the car breaks its back on the first hump back bridge you drive it over then you won't be able to claim that the car was misrepresented. It is, however, an offence in the UK to sell a motor vehicle which is in a dangerous, unroadworthy condition, but unless you can prove that the car in question was unroadworthy at the actual time of purchase then it is very difficult to take any action against the vendor.
A private vendor will usually assume that, once money has changed hands and the car is your property and you have driven it away, he or she has no further liability for the car. If you put your foot through the floor the first time you use the brakes then you may have great difficulty in gaining any form of redress without resorting to the legal system.
Beetles are now extremely tempting targets for thieves. Not only do the cars command attractive prices and usually find a ready market, but even broken down for spares they are worth real money. Most of the classic cars which are stolen and subsequently offered for sale (certainly in the UK) appear to be the subject of a type of organised crime called 'ringing'. In this, a car of a specific year and colour is stolen. In order to sell the car, the thief has to give it a new identity, which he can do in one of two ways. Firstly, he can take the registration document and number. engine and any other identification numbers of a scrapped example of the vehicle and merely replace the various identification plates on the stolen car (the 'ringer'). Secondly, he can apply for a duplicate registration document for an existing and perfectly legitimate example of the car (usually one which lives many miles away from the scene of the sale), then buy number plates and other identification plates to create another seemingly legitimate example.

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