Fleet News

Disposals: turn up, tune in – or lose cash!

'I spent a week on the road recently, attending van sales up and down the country and what struck me most were the issues of condition and the presence – or otherwise – of a vendor representative. This latter point is a recurring theme in the van market and a constant frustration to the trade.

For example, I saw numerous erroneous descriptions of vans which could have been corrected had the vendor been present to compare the catalogue with the actual vehicles on offer. I saw a Luton described as a panel van, a long wheelbase Sprinter listed as medium wheelbase and a Transit where the side-loading doors and semi-hi roof had been omitted from the description altogether. What this leads to is the potential for incorrect valuation and a vehicle moving into the 'on sale' zone before it should.

If you watch this happening you'll see the trade suddenly go very quiet as they realise a bargain is about to be had and they are careful not to give the game away by bidding too excitedly. On the other hand, if there is a disposer's representative on hand they will spot the error and ensure they get the best price for the vehicle. They will be able to see the van has been 'CAPped' wrongly, or that the V5 and actual vehicle features don't match and act accordingly.

In one scenario there were very few buyers and I could just imagine how the results would seem when they were received by the vendor and the worry that might ensue over the 'state' of the market. If you aren't there to see the context of the results it's almost impossible to gain any real insight into the true picture and why reserve values are proving elusive at any particular time.

On the question of condition, the same principle applies. I watched a 51 plate Kangoo which, from the rostrum, must have looked like an absolutely sparkling clean van. It had everything – central locking, power steering, gleaming paintwork and a long crease down the side which the auctioneer could not see. To his presumed surprise the bidding fell £1,500 short of the £5,200 CAP Clean it must have seemed easily worth. In truth, this van sold for what it was worth but it was 'CAPped' as Clean and therefore looked on paper as if it fell well short of book.

Then there is the problem faced by the smaller buyers – the men and women who have only the budget for one or two vans. Once they have committed to bidding right to the end on a van and have to then wait for a phone call to confirm whether they have acquired it, they are out of the running for anything else or run the risk of over-committing themselves.

They might want to try their hand at a similar van following but find their hands are now tied while they await a decision. My trade contacts value those vendors they can deal with immediately and will always choose them over those who are a phone call away.'

  • By David Hill, senior editor CAP Red Book
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