I am writing this guide to share my experience of using Ebay's 'Vehicle Status Reports' when attempting to purchase a car.
First things first, if you buy a car privately without undertaking some sort of check beforehand (be it HPI, or an RAC or AA inspection) then you are taking your life in your hands and stand to potentially lose a lot of money if the car then turns out to be a repaired write off, or stolen, or whatever.
Ebay provide its handy 'Get the Vehicle Status Report' option which currently costs £6.99 per check, and is powered by HPI.. When you make use of this feature you will receive a brief report which lists whether or not the car is reported stolen, has been written off, or if it has any outstanding finance listed against it (if you buy a car which has outstanding finance, then the car may not actually belong to you - it may still belong to the finance company, and therefore if you subsequently crash it and need to make an insurance claim, the insurer will pay the finance company, not you)
I recently used the Status Report option for a car I was interested in, paid my £6.99 and the report came back listing the car as having outstanding finance. I contacted the seller, who assured me that this was not the case and was quite upset that I was calling her integrity into question.
To cut a very long story short, the seller WAS being honest and there was NO finance outstanding on the car. To establish this fact, the seller paid £20 for a FULL HPI/Experian check through the website 'Autocheck'. This is one of the sites the motor industry uses and it reported the vehicle as all clear.
I contacted HPI to ask them why their report was incorrect, and asked for a refund of my £6.99 which I paid for useless information. Their reply was that it is not their responsibility to update the finance information they give out and they refused the refund.
THEREFORE - my advice is this...don't bother with the Vehicle Status Report option, just go straight to one of the many companies who provide a full report and get it done there. It will cost you more (shop around for the best deal) but hopefully it can be relied upon.
This was an instance where the information given by HPI was wrong, when in fact the vehicle was all clear. If this can happen, then presumably the opposite can happen - and I wonder how many buyers have used the Vehicle Status Report to inform them about a car which they have subsequently bought following a clear report, when in fact the information was wrong and there may be some serious issue waiting to be discovered.
Vehicle Status Reports - Are they worth it?
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14 May 2009
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