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The Rip-Offs That Men Do

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The Rip-Offs That Men Do

Geoff Maxted
July 11, 2013

Used Car Salesman
The other day there was a programme on television where three highly paid professional presenters informed us about how we are ripped off by the motor trade. They presented to the camera as if this was somehow news to the millions of hard-pressed drivers on the road.

As with most factual TV these days, the information was imparted in the manner of Blue Peter presenters instructing a nation of rather backward children. It was insulting to the intelligence and it was another demonstration of how the trendy Tristrams of television believe that their viewers are but one step up from the status of amoeba. It’s an intellectual rip-off.

But they were not wrong. It is absolutely true that the first rule of selling a car is to maximise profit. Less scrupulous dealers have all sorts of tricks up their sleeves including online pricing that bears no relationship to the bottom line, for example. We know that the insurance industry is no longer interested in looking after loyal customers. We know that councils will think of new and inventive ways of extracting fines and we know that there are still garages that will charge for work not done and overcharge for work that is.

Everywhere we look we are being ripped off, fiddled or duped. It’s endless. It seems like every transaction we make involves careful consideration of all the available information. Want a new pay-as-you-go smartphone? You can no longer just top up as you please - you have to enrol in a ‘plan’. Want to book a cheap flight? Look out for the many and various little and not so little add-ons that will compound the bill.

The worse thing of all is that rip-off Britain sets neighbour against neighbour. When you talk to some person at the council who - forgetting that they are public servants - proceeds to lecture you at length about what a bad citizen you are being, they may well live in your street.

We seem to have a mental block about how we deal with other people in a “customer facing” environment. If we work for a company or organisation we know that we are giving this person bad advice or a raw deal yet we carry on doing it. Is it the fear of losing a job or is it just callous indifference because everybody‘s at it? Who can say.

As far as cars are concerned a lot has been achieved in ensuring that customers do get a better deal. With most car dealers buyers know the game and how to play it. These days cars are pretty good value. Some inroads have been made into protecting drivers from the worst excesses of clampers and rip-off merchants. Car insurance may well have peaked as the industry gets a grip on fraud and so on; but as the TV programme showed the rot remains. Don’t let it happen to you.

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