We've bought and sold no shortage of cars through the years, but up until a few months ago we'd not once violated the cardinal rule of vehicle purchasing: never buy a car sight unseen.
In fact, this particular editor has been known to travel great distances - fueled by caffeine, 93 octane, and a hefty dose of sheer, unyielding paranoia - in the name of vehicle verification.
Conventional wisdom is that the alternative is far too risky. Indeed, the car forumsphere abounds with stories of poor saps who put too much trust in a car salesman on the other side of country, then ended up with a less-than-ideal purchase, and of course, little to no possible recourse.
If you called dealerships with a list of demands that serve as everyday Vroom.com policy, most would surely have a good laugh.
"Hi, I'm interested in your 2012 Mustang. Your price seems about right. Just a few purchase stipulations...
I'm about 2,000 miles away. Will you ship it to me at your cost?
Also, after I receive the car I'll need to have a good poke around, and drive it for a few days. Let's say up to 250 miles. If I don't like it for some reason I'll need you to please come pick it up at your cost, then give me all of my money back.
Finally, assuming all is well and I want to keep the car, I'd like a 3 month, 3,000 mile, bumper to bumper warranty."
While most dealerships and salespeople would scoff at such a proposal, in fact this is exactly the model that Vroom.com has implemented. A legitimate, no-risk, sight unseen vehicle purchase model.
In our experience they were gracious and helpful both pre- and post-sale as well.
While the vehicle we purchased was of limited value, the sales personnel responded to every request (numerous) for pictures, service history documentation, tire tread depth, etc.
We were relieved when our vehicle arrived and proved to be accurately represented, and in very good condition. Nevertheless, there were just a few items to address: it was slightly low on coolant, and the battery cover in the engine bay had stripped plastic tabs, which necessitated a new cover (~$30 part).
Vroom.com parts department ordered and had the battery cover shipped to us. We went and sourced the coolant locally, sent Vroom.com the receipt, and they reimbursed us via check.
Going on three months later we received an email from their "Director of Happiness" just to check in on things and make sure we were satisfied.
Sound like your typical dealership experience?
Certainly not for us, thus the motivation for this post.
Other dealerships should take heed. Vroom.com is setting a precedent.