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WA car buyers shun the web

Despite spending billions of dollars on online goods every year, Australians still prefer to buy their cars the old-fashioned way — face-to-face.

A recent survey by insurer Budget Direct found 74 per cent of consumers bought their vehicles in person.

In WA, the rate was even higher at 79 per cent.

The results come as no surprise to veteran Perth car dealer John Hughes, who said despite changing consumer trends, nothing could replace the car-buying experience.

“People still want to touch, feel, smell and drive the car before buying it,” he said. “It’s a significant investment for most people, but also one that can create a significant emotional bond.

“I have still had people in tears when they have traded in a much-loved car.”

Mr Hughes, who has been selling cars in Victoria Park for 49 years, said many buyers were using online sites for their research, particularly when they were in the market for a pre-owned vehicle.

Armed with this information, they then checked out the short-listed vehicles in person.

“This has been very good for consumers because it has created a more competitive marketplace and costs have been reduced,” Mr Hughes said. “Getting value for money has never been better.

“For dealerships, it has become more difficult because many sales have come down to the lowest common denominator — price.

“And, yes, price is important.

“But so are other factors — the reputation of the seller and the level of after-sales service to name just two.”

The Budget Direct survey report said buying a car face-to-face was understandable given it was one of the biggest purchases someone could make.

“People want to ensure they’re getting the real deal and it’s undeniably reassuring to see the car in person rather than trusting to a few photos online,” it said.

The survey found men were slightly more inclined to buy their vehicles online — and when broken down into age brackets, it was the 35-44-year-olds who were most likely to buy online.

“One theory for this result is that this age bracket has already had a few car purchases under their belt and are more confident with what they are after in a vehicle,” the report said.

More survey information is available at budgetdirect.com.au/car-insurance.

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