• 60'
  • Author : Denis Einaudi
  • 02-05-2021
  • Master : 3051


Whatever the cost, the French are not yet ready to give up their cars. 85% own one. They spend more than 10% of their budget on it. And the smart operators have cottoned onto that. So, how do you avoid being scammed when you buy one? New or pre-owned, what’s the best choice? And who is making illegal profits out of this market?

Often it all starts on a classified ads site. Every year more than 3 million people hope to find their dream vehicle on one of them. We discovered how crooks infiltrate such internet sites to hook their victims. Pauline, 21, lost all her savings. “To think you worked for 10 months to buy a car and, in the end, it doesn’t exist… it’s awful! And you don’t even know where the money is.”

This young woman is far from being a lone case. 15% of buyers state they have already been victims of scams in the second-hand car market. Nicolas and Juan work for a start-up designed to avoid the encounter with crooks or dishonest individuals. They put buyers and sellers in touch with each other. But first, every car goes through a demanding examination: “Spectrometer, voltmeter, tyre tread thickness, brake fluid tester… we check everything!” You’ll see that nothing escapes them!

We also uncovered a scandal that is endangering millions of drivers. There are many cars fit only for the scrapyard that are driving totally illegally on our roads. It’s called the “flooded car scam”. For several months, Antonio drove around at the wheel of a wreck: “We found mud under the engine shrouds and holes in the floor. It’s the Twilight Zone and it happens to us…” How is all this possible? Our investigation will show you a trick that is simple, but dangerous.

Could resorting to professional middle-men be an answer? Not necessarily. Agents will promise to negotiate with dealers for you. But that’s on paper. One such drew our attention. He guarantees cars certified by an expert. Céline trusted them. Her lovely car broke down just a few days after she bought it. “I heard this huge noise, as if something had broken and after that it just wouldn’t start again.” Former employees agreed to expose their methods. “We had to get the customer to pay as quickly as possible so that he couldn’t back out. And to do that we had particular techniques.”

Fortunately, there are professionals who will bend over backwards to help you save money. In Calais, Christian and Sylvie are among them and they’ve been doing it for 20 years: “I always say the sale doesn’t end the day of delivery, that’s too easy, you hand over the car and the papers to the customer and you’re done? No, no, we offer 4-star service.” The result is that some of their customers change cars every 3 years without losing a penny! They shared a few of their tips with us.

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