Today was meant to have a day of clearing out my mother's house of all the extraneous and unwanted junk she has collected over the last few years. Instead, I spent the day helping my brother buy a car.
Unfortunately, due to having 2 young children, a wedding coming up and the other financial paraphenalia of life when you have a young family, he's a bit strapped for cash. So, the previous car had died, and due to issues elsewhere, the only real resort was to go to one of these car finance garages. So off we tootled to this place.
Interesting psychology is applied in these places, and we were treated to the full range of the techniques. They range from concealing the true price of the car, the APR, focussing on a 'weekly' budget (although their interpretation of 'keeping to the budget' was intriguing) and using honesty as obfuscation.
"This one is £40 a week."
"So - what is the price of this car?"
"I'm not sure but I can go and find out."
"What exactly makes up the £40 a week?"
Same answer, although with a little more certainty.
I recognise that places are there to service a need, which is for people who are desperate for a 'new' car, who don't have very much in the way of good credit and deposit and who are likely to fall for the patter. The fact of these places are: they tend to operate within the law but they do stretch the interpretation quite far, the cars are extremely expensive (£10k for an otherwise £4k car), the finance is horrendous (typically 19%-ish) and the pressure is on to buy there and then, although you would be hard-pressed to recognise it as such.
The upshot was that I sat down with my brother and his partner, realistically ran through the numbers, said 'thank you very much but no thank you' and left.
We, after searching on the internet, bought a very decent , if slightly old, mondeo for £300, which will easily run for the next year whilst they save some money for something a little more polished, and won't cost them a fortune monthly in outlay and interest with respect to the real value of what they have bought.