Is Money Back the End of Test Drives?


Auto Trader – love it or hate it, it’s here to stay. And now they’re saying that if dealers offer customers a money back guarantee they can do away with those pesky test drives for good.

Wait a minute! Aren’t test drives where a salesperson really flexes their selling muscles?  Isn’t this where the customer really falls in love with the car?  We know that during Covid test drives have been a burden and we know that many dealers have worked up ingenious ways around them…but if we get rid of the test drive aren’t we introducing another way to keep the customer at arm’s length?

Auto Trader says that new research shows that more people would be willing to buy a car without a test drive if they knew they could get their money back if they weren’t happy with the vehicle. They surveyed 1,900 people and 72% said they would still want to have a test drive.  Fine, that’s what we would expect.  It’s a big purchase, after all. And an emotional one.

But, says Auto Trader, when asked if they would buy without a test drive as long as the car came with a cast iron 14-day money-back guarantee then 62% said they would be up for that.

Auto Trader’s Richard Walker puts it positively for dealers: “This research does highlight the opportunities for retailers to capture a greater share of demand by adapting their processes in line with evolving consumer preferences.

“Many buyers are now happy to purchase without a test drive if a money-back guarantee is in place. This is another example of the traditional barriers to buying online being removed for consumers with improved services offered by retailers.

“The old test drive format is no longer fit for purpose, with consumers demonstrating a clear preference for either unaccompanied or extended at home test drives.”

What do you think?  It makes us nervous!