App gives buy­ers valu­able in­for­ma­tion

Business Day - Motor News - - MOTOR NEWS - Mo­tor News Reporter

Buy­ing a car can be a stress­ful ex­pe­ri­ence, but it can also hurt a consumer in the pocket when the right checks aren’t done. To counter this, Tran­sUnion and FirstCheck have part­nered to launch a consumer-fo­cused ve­hi­cle-check­ing app. The app con­tains in­for­ma­tion on ve­hi­cles that were tra­di­tion­ally only avail­able to deal­ers.

“Buy­ing a car is one of the most im­por­tant in­vest­ments any­one makes, and if it goes wrong it can have a dev­as­tat­ing rip­ple ef­fect on qual­ity of life and fi­nances,” says Kriben Reddy, head of Tran­sUnion Auto.

“A lack of knowl­edge of hid­den faults, fraud or a sus­pect ser­vice book is gen­er­ally caused by a lack of in­sight into the full his­tory of a ve­hi­cle.

“We want to put the right in­for­ma­tion in the hands of con­sumers so they can make more in­formed de­ci­sions.”

One of the key fea­tures of the FirstCheck app is a val­u­a­tion re­port, which can be ac­cessed to learn the ve­hi­cle’s es­ti­mated value. A ver­i­fi­ca­tion re­port cov­ers the full his­tory of a ve­hi­cle — im­por­tant if a buyer wants to know if the ve­hi­cle they are look­ing at is the ve­hi­cle that has been reg­is­tered as such, and has not been stolen. This check will also pro­vide in­for­ma­tion if a ve­hi­cle is be­ing fi­nanced — another cru­cial piece of the puzzle as this is be­com­ing a com­mon way to de­fraud buy­ers.

CONSUMER POWER

“Ac­cess to in­for­ma­tion is lev­el­ling the play­ing field and putting power back into the hands of the consumer. A bank may still be hold­ing fi­nance on a car that has been sold, mean­ing that the bank is for all in­tents and pur­poses the owner. Peo­ple are then tricked by a fraud­ster into pay­ing cash and they drive the car away only for the bank to re­port that car stolen. A lot of peo­ple are be­ing caught out this way,” says Reddy.

The app also has a di­rect link to the South African Po­lice Ser­vice data­base, so a would-be pur­chaser can check in real time if a car has been re­ported stolen.

Price re­mains a com­mon stum­bling block for many, and the app pro­vides both trade and re­tail val­ues to en­sure the price be­ing of­fered on a car as a tradein is its true mar­ket value.

“This as­sures a car buyer that the car they are in­ter­ested in buy­ing is be­ing of­fered to them at a fair price.

“They are also able to mon­i­tor the car’s value on a monthly ba­sis to en­sure that their in­sur­ance pre­mi­ums are al­ways in line,” says Reddy.

Apart from no­ti­fy­ing them if the car is stolen or not, the re­port high­lights any dis­crep­an­cies from the man­u­fac­tur­ing spec­i­fi­ca­tions. FirstCheck matches the ve­hi­cle iden­ti­fi­ca­tion num­ber (VIN) and en­gine num­ber sup­plied to a man­u­fac­turer data­base and pro­vides re­sults based on the match.

“A car buyer will re­ceive one of the fol­low­ing con­fir­ma­tion re­sults: ‘match’, ‘no match’ or ‘par­tial match’,” says Reddy. “A ‘no match’ could mean that FirstCheck does not have a record of the car on the data­base or in­com­plete in­for­ma­tion has been pro­vided.”

The re­port tells a po­ten­tial pur­chaser if a car has been “mi­crodot­ted”. This is a mark­ing sys­tem whereby thou­sands of dots, in­vis­i­ble to the naked eye, are an en­hanced de­ter­rent for car theft.

“We be­lieve if con­sumers keep build­ing on good choices, they will con­tinue to cre­ate solid op­por­tu­ni­ties,” says Reddy.

A car value re­port costs R19, while a full car check re­port costs R99.

There are also other op­tions for those who might be look­ing for reg­u­lar re­ports.

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