An approved dealer is one that has been checked over by an industry body and seen to be providing a level and quality of service and product that means they get a ‘seal of approval’ from that industry body.
For example, you will see approved dealers that sell cars from the major manufacturers (e.g. Ford, Fiat, Vauxhall etc.). While they may not be a main agent (i.e. directly selling on behalf of the parent car company), they have been seen to be reputable enough to have the big brand name associated with their dealership.
Some dealers are approved by the main car maintenance providers, such as AA and RAC. This means that they will have been carrying out checks on their cars to ensure they meet a strict criteria of quality before being sold.
Finance companies may also have their own criteria to label an ‘approved dealer’, such as following the correct financial checks and processes, and ensuring they are complying with FCA guidelines on consumer protection.
An approved dealer has undergone many different checks to ensure that they are a legitimate and trustworthy company to deal with. They should be clearly explaining all the details about the car you are buying, it’s history, and also the buying process. If you are buying online, they will be complying with the distance selling rules ensuring you do not lose your statutory rights from purchasing a vehicle online, including a return and refund period in line with the current rules and regulations.
If you are purchasing a finance package through the dealer, then you will be provided with all the information on the deal, including all the costs, charges and restrictions that come with financing a vehicle.
Many finance providers and listing websites may not work with unapproved dealers, as they want to ensure customer satisfaction and stake their reputation on using these external dealerships.
Being an approved dealer is something to shout about, so you can expect to see it proudly displayed on the dealer’s marketing materials. If you are buying through a third party website or a finance provider, they will be able to tell you if a dealer is approved or not.
You can also check who has approved the dealer and see what criteria they use to approve a car dealership or not.
While being an unapproved dealer does not mean that they are necessarily a bad dealership, you are likely to have less protection when using them. Because an approved dealer has all these criteria to stick to and rules to follow, then if you have an issue with the car or finance product you have purchased, you will have a clear process to follow.
Unapproved dealers might mean you are dealing solely with them when it comes to complaints and issues. While that doesn’t mean you’ll have no options when any issues arise, it may be more difficult for you to get a satisfactory resolution.
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