I bought a car for my wife recently and it struck me that in a number of months time if I am purchasing a similar car I will have to choose whether I buy the car and pay commission or a fee, plus VAT at 17.5 per cent – which nobody sees but the Treasury.
Obviously the forecourt will make sure I pay less on the fee route – economically it is in their interest to do so. That is how they are able to stay in business, is it not?
The guidelines for fees for selling cars will come out shortly and, of course, they will show that the same Ford Focus being purchased in rural Lincolnshire will have the same fee charged as it will in Piccadilly, London.
After all, the costs of operating in the two locations are exactly the same. Of course, if I want to pay a fee I can go to a car supermarket, safe in the knowledge that I am paying the same for my Ford Focus as Guido in Italy.
Talking of supermarkets, I got really annoyed at Tesco the other night as I had to wait at the checkout while a little oik aged no more than six paid £3.48 in two pence pieces into his stakeholder pension.
To make matters worse, he wanted to do a fund switch and preceded to ask Tina on the till which way the markets would go and whether Perpetual was past its sell-by date.
Equally, I think I will need a decision tree in order to ensure I am buying the right car for the right reasons. After all I am only 41, been around the block a bit and have never heard of caveat emptor.
Some of the key issues I will have to decide on are: Wheels or no wheels? Brakes? Or have them fitted later after I have worked out whether I need them or not. Should I also buy my son a car now, even though he cannot drive it because he is only 11 months old?
These are difficult issues but I am glad the people in high places have thought it through to protect us from our own gross stupidity and incompetence.
When I come to sell my wife's car in 10 years time, the £12,000 that I invested will only be worth £200. Obviously, I will need to complain – after all, nobody told me that could happen when I purchased it and I was not given a 14-day cooling-off period. It was not even in the key features document (sorry, owner's manual), nothing there that says investment in cars can go down as well as plummet. Surely the Government should act now about this scandalous misselling of cars.
I have heard on the grapevine that solicitors and accountants are looking forward to being told what to charge and in anticipation have started to expand their practices at an incredible rate.
That is what it is about, all professionals charging the same amount ensures that you get the same quality advice, every time, as endorsed by Her Majesty's Government. If the Bloody Sunday enquiry had been used as a pilot, i.e. a flat fee charged for the advice of these highly-qualified professionals, the bill so far would be £350 – clearly economically viable.
Why did we all not think of this route before. It is what everybody wants, is it not? Clients are going to sleep better at night knowing that the bloke who works above the chip shop is going to charge the same fee as is the city office of a nationwide practice.
Whoever it was that talked about supply and demand was clearly talking out of his diminishing return.
It makes perfect sense that governing bodies should dictate what their minions should charge the general public. We cannot possibly have people driving round in flash cars because it is obvious that they must be ripping people off.
If they all charge the same fee it means that the only car they can afford is a Ford Focus, therefore making it easy for the public instantly to recognise an adviser.
I have heard that one of the ministries is to be in charge of organising a party in a brewery – that I have got to see. I look forward to my invitation.
Tony Wright-Jones is director of marketing at the Lamensdorf Group