CAMPAIGNS: Weekly Web Watch - Cutting car prices with carbusters

Organisation: Consumers’ Association
Issue: Rip-off car prices

Organisation: Consumers’ Association

Issue: Rip-off car prices


The Consumers’ Association has been in the vanguard of the fight against

the ’rip-off’ prices paid for new cars in Britain, compared to the rest

of Europe.

As the Government appeared poised last week to respond to pressure by

forcing manufacturers to cut car prices, was launched for

those consumers who aren’t prepared to continue to pay an average of 35

per cent more than their Continental cousins. The association has found

that 70 out of the 77 most popular cars in Europe are more expensive in

the UK than in any other country.

Carbusters imports cars from Europe, delivering them to the buyer’s door

for an administration fee - the CA will not be making a profit on the

venture. Which? subscribers get a cheaper deal on the fee, and the site

gives users the opportunity to join up before buying a car.

The association has trialled the site for three months, during which 83

cars with full UK specifications - no left-hand drives - were


The order, worth more than pounds 1.5 million, saved the buyers around

pounds 270,000 - an average of between pounds 3,000 and pounds 4,000 per


At the moment a limited number of cars are available from a limited

number of manufacturers, mainly at the luxury end of the market. It’s

extremely easy to get a quote - the price shown is an on-the-road price,

including 12 months’ tax and registration. Optional extras can be priced

up after a basic quotation has been accepted, and there is the option to

call sales people directly to talk about the car in more depth.

But the site is much more than a ’pile it high, sell it cheap’

e-commerce vehicle (excuse the pun) - it even points out that it is not

necessarily offering the very cheapest price. There are pages with

detailed answers to ’commonly asked questions’, explaining why the site

was set up, where deposits go, and what happens if there is a


And there are direct links to the Which? on-line site (,

where the campaign which sparked the creation of the site, ’The Great

British Car Rip Off’, can be followed. This includes an invitation to

e-mail trade and industry secretary Stephen Byers direct with comments

about the higher prices for cars in the UK, and contact numbers for car

manufacturers to ask ’why they charge you more for your new car’.

The site takes the fear and paperwork out of buying cars direct from

Europe. As its range of cars is expanded more consumers are bound to

come on-line to take advantage of the savings, especially as it looks as

though it will take a while for car prices on this side of the Channel

to come down.

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