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Selling high tech and model sensitive parts on-line

It's so easy for the customer to order the wrong part when it comes to auto technology items.
With so many high value, high tech components on a vehicle these days one would think that the dismantler is in an envious position. As we all know, that’s not necessarily the case.

The main problem which high tech components (such as ECU’s) raise for the used part market is making sure the customer buys the correct unit for the vehicle. In theory that shouldn’t be such a problem but apart from the initial fault finding issues to ensure one knows where a fault lies, the number of options and variations that occur during the life cycle of a model can make it very confusing for the customer.

Apart from upgrades during the model’s time, making sure that, for example, the customer does require the ECU that is set for remote locking and press button start and not remote locking and key start is essential if the he/she is to buy the correct unit to solve the problem.

For the customer who comes to your sales counter this isn’t such a big issue. Firstly, your staff can quiz him/her to check the correct spec and vin number for his vehicle, and secondly, if a mistake has been made by either the salesman or the customer, then the situation can be easily rectified.

This all falls to pieces when the part is sold on-line. Yes, you can describe it correctly and even supply the information for the customer to assure himself that it is the correct part for his car, but like leading a horse to water, you can’t make him drink. From the calls we receive, so many customers have either decided what they need, or their local mechanic has told them what to buy and the detail gets forgotten about. Your sales staff do not have that option to quiz this buyer prior to him/her pressing the ‘buy now’ button - and that’s when it all goes wrong - particularly for the seller.

We all accept that if we supply a faulty part, then we should fully refund or replace, there’s no issue with that. The problem comes when we are selling on a system such as eBay which appears to be so biased towards the buyer that they insist that the seller is penalised for doing nothing wrong. With so much to go wrong on line for second hand parts, and particularly model sensitive parts, many are starting to question the sense of selling that way.

Rob Austin of Northamptonshire based Auto spares and salvage, has recently taken a good hard look at such electrical items on his ebay account and has taken them offline. This is due to countless incorrect online purchases which are not any fault of Autospares descriptions; customers simply buy because the car may be the same model and cc, but they don’t check first before buying. Robert said “ I’d say out of ten sales of ECU kits or ABS pumps, 4-6 kits would be returned. With the new defect system which starts on August 20th, 2014, should a customer buy your item incorrectly, regardless of whether you have pictures of every angle and part number from the parts, they can simply open up an items not as described case. Ebay will then simply mark your transaction down as a defect and thus adding to your defect score. Should more than 5% of your transactions be defective, then your account could see itself with listing restrictions or even worse, suspension. This we all simply cannot afford.”

I would have thought, particularly as eBay is so buyer friendly that it would want to sort out the problems associated with used parts for their customers but every time we have contacted them we have received no response - not what you call great customer service - reduce their discounts! One thing they could do for their motoring customer is include a parts look up so that the buyer can enter their registration number and be sure a part is relevant to their vehicle. After all, part numbers are now available from a number of sources and the registration number could be a prerequisite for buying high tech and sensitive parts. This really would be a benefit for the buyer and at the same time help build confidence in used parts as the number of mistakes by the customer would be greatly reduced. This wouldn’t help the customer who simply buys the wrong part, mistakenly thinking that’s where the fault lies or the dishonest buyer who will make any spurious claim that comes into his/her mind, but at least the serious customer would be greatly assisted. I can’t understand why eBay don’t want to talk to the industry about these issues as it is in all our interests.

September 2014

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