A problem amongst many retro car owners is locating spare parts or modifications. Whilst many companies do cater for our needs, countless owners are left in the dark when attempting to locate the ideal fit for their vehicle. Unfortunately, many dastardly crooks lurk in the darkest corners of the internet to trip us and catch our wallets as we fall.
Most of us have become victims of a motoring related scam at one point or another, so here is a basic guide to avoid becoming another brick in the wall of the black market.
1 – Know what you’re looking for.
Some scammers may choose to sell forged parts or products completely unfit for use. With a little bit of homework, you will be able to spot the black sheep amongst the flock. Vigilance can flush out any imitation products claiming to be the real deal and will help in detecting a poorly informed bogus seller. For example, if your search criteria brings you towards purchasing custom wheels, be sure to cross reference information with reputable sites, including the likes of LK Performance, who can guide you in your search.
2 – Search Far and Wide…with caution.
Of course, you’ve done your research and have built an armoury of potential leads for classified websites. Whilst most will offer countless trustworthy adverts from reputable sellers, scammers exist on just about every site the internet can offer. Simple precautions can include telephoning the seller to verify their existence, asking owners’ club forum members to vouch for their services, requesting an address at which they reside, grilling the seller for further information and requesting extensive photography of the product in question.
3 – Inspection?
In many cases, a physical inspection of the part, vehicle or item would be required. If this is possible, it certainly should become a priority. Only a suspect seller would outright refuse an inspection. Geographical restraints can often put a stop to this, however some owners’ club contacts may be happy to go in your place if you ask them nice enough. Just be sure to buy them a drink afterwards and return the favour.
4 – Payment.
All of the above have been satisfied and the time has come to take the plunge and pay the seller. The safest way to make a payment would be by PayPal. This would be due to the legal comeback offered for fictional goods, disappearances in transit and the pitfalls of items not fit for purpose or as described. Never send the payment as a gift though as these rights will immediately become voided.
The second best method is to pay cash on collection. Whilst this will guarantee that your money won’t be taken without the goods in return, it cannot guarantee quality though. Used items sold privately are essentially sold as seen, and the aforementioned rights would be horrendously difficult to adapt and enforce should your item prove unfit or kaput. To ease the problem though, store all correspondence throughout the entire transaction.
5 – Name and Shame.
In the unfortunate event that you find yourself scammed, or even experiencing a near miss, be sure to name and shame the culprit. Post messages on all related forums regarding rogue traders, with a truthful description of what happened. Do not go into too much detail though if you plan to report the incident to the police, which is highly recommended. Scamming buyers online is a criminal offence and is rightfully treated as such. If you’ve obtained all contact details as mentioned earlier, then the police investigation has just been made much more simple.
Peace of Mind.
Take these simple precautions and you will be on your way to securing that vital part for your classic or project. Please do not feed the trolls, and definitely don’t satisfy the scammers. Every scammer stopped is another victory for the good guys. Time Warp Tuesday wishes you the best in your online shopping experiences.