The used car industry has been serving up epically bad experiences for decades. It’s a tough stigma to break, but thanks to the research car shoppers are doing online, the ugly business of buying a car isn’t so ugly anymore. Sure, it takes a little digital elbow grease for shoppers to figure out which trims and packages they want, but it’s worth it when trying to find the best used car to buy.
Mojo Motors has been relieving the headache of used car shopping for about three years. Shoppers Follow cars they like and we send alerts when prices drop. Pretty easy, eh? Here’s the problem. It isn’t easy making everything on Mojo Motors seem nice and simple. There’s an ugliness behind the scenes.
Dealerships manage the prices of their cars using inventory management tools. If they want to advertise their cars on websites like Mojo, they use a feed to send us their inventory. Each day dealerships update their feed with newly listed cars, price drops on used cars and sold cars. Those cars are then put into the drop downs, seen below, so shoppers can search for makes and models.
There are tens of thousands of car dealers and hundreds of feed providers and each one is different. This is where problems arise. What one dealer labels a ‘Honda Accord’ another dealer labels a ‘Honda Accord Sedan Leather’ while another dealer labels it a ‘Honda Accord LX-P CD GPS NAV.’ Without tools in place to automatically re-name those cars ‘Accord,’ we’d end up with a drop drown that not only looks confusing and ugly, but has a hundred different Accords to choose from.
One way we combat these issues is report we created that lists every make and model in our drop downs. Then we go through the report to find the weirdness. Mojo Motors is for used car shoppers, not used semi truck shoppers or Kenny Powers, so whenever a weird make pops up, like a semi truck or jet ski, we remove it from the site. The same goes with anything named ‘unknown’ or ‘unspecified.’
If a dealer adds a bunch of features to a vehicle name, like ‘Honda Accord Sedan 4dr leather CD.’ we re-label the car so it only reads ‘Accord.’ That makes it easier to shop for a car and easier to read. Some automotive websites don’t care about how their drop downs look and if you’ve been shopping for a used car long enough, you probably noticed.
The second bit of ugliness in the auto business is finding up-to-date information or lack thereof. Sometimes dealers don’t update their inventory right away when a car has been sold. If a shoppers calls and finds out the vehicle is sold, they feel taken. This is called bait-and-switch.
It’s the same issue that affects the real estate business. Sometimes apartments have already been rented or houses already sold, but the listings still appear online. Brokers think they can transplant your interest from a property that’s no longer available to one of their other listings.
That’s why it’s super important to call or email a dealer before driving to the lot. If you’ve already felt the pain of finding out a car you fell in love with was already sold, read about the DO’s and DON’TS when shopping for a used car here. We hope you’ll find it helpful as you navigate through the ugliness of the used car business.
Written by Max Katsarelas