You can buy anything online, from groceries to gazebos, so it seems only logical that purchasing a car via the internet is next. Cazoo is a new website that offers over 2,000 used cars to choose from with prices ranging from £4,800 to £45,000. Simply search their site, pick your car and Cazoo delivers it to your door in as little as 72 hours in a 2 hour slot that is most convenient to you. Easy huh?
Of course, if you’re making a big purchase like buying a car from the internet then you’ll be glad to hear there’s a full 7-day money back guarantee. Cazoo says that it’ll be back with its truck to pick up your car if you're not completely satisfied. You also get 7-days free insurance during the money back period. The cars themselves are all owned by Cazoo and have been given an all clear before they become available online.
So, we thought we’d give Cazoo a go as it sounded like a pretty good idea. Getting started is super-simple. All you need to do is head along to the Cazoo website and begin searching. The site itself is nicely put together, so picking through the searchable database of available motors is straightforward and fuss-free. Seeing as this was essentially a trial of the Cazoo website and service that follows we didn't actually part with our own money for the test.
However, we were given a ballpark figure to ‘spend’ (circa 12 and 16k), which got us into the realms of a popular buying area for things like smaller family saloons. Based on that we ended up going for a bright red Ford Fiesta. Ours was a 1L ST-Line EcoBoost T. Judging it on the plentiful supply of pictures on the Cazoo website the saloon looked to be in good shape. A helpful feature of the site is that where there are any cosmetic marks, dings or discrepancies these are flagged up in the images.
Delivery day came along a few days later. The weather was atrocious, but the cheery delivery driver called shortly before arrival to let us know he was on his way. He also wanted to check if there were any parking restrictions or access issues, which seemed wise as that might be a problem in some locations such as a city centre or if you live on a remote, muddy farm for example.
A little while later the Cazoo van turned up and, in the pouring rain, the delivery guy set about unloading. Inside was the very same red Ford Fiesta as seen on the website and it had clearly been carefully valeted before being packaged into the van. With the car reversed onto the drive we got a chance to look around it.
All appeared good until we got to the front end, where there was a small ding on the bottom of the front spoiler. Looking at the damaged area more closely this also indicated that the impact had pushed the bodywork up slightly, so the join wasn’t quite right where the front bumper met the driver’s-side front wing. If you’d just paid £12,900 for the car then this would doubtless be a problem.
Disappointingly, this hadn’t been flagged up in the images on the website either. In a follow up email, Cazoo’s spokesman Lawrence Hall said "Had this been a genuine purchase, as you can see from some of our Trustpilot reviews, we would have made sure we got the car repaired at Cazoo's cost, in a way to best suit you and not disrupt your life. Occasionally damage like this can happen in transit/loading and whilst rare, it is always our priority to make sure our customers are not inconvenienced, out of pocket and that we have the car back with them as soon as possible in the condition they expect it to be in."
All well and good. But we went back and looked at the original images and the wing does appear to be slightly out of alignment, which was how it looked on the day. However, the ding on the bottom of the spoiler doesn't show up. Maybe it was there, maybe it wasn’t.
Nevertheless, this does highlight the issues with buying a car without seeing it in the metal, so to speak. At the same time, if Cazoo puts things right maybe that’s not much of an issue at all, save for the inconvenience and the disappointment of your shiny new thing having something wrong with it.
Aside from that the car looked to be in good order. Although the car came with the aforementioned 7-day driveaway insurance (a free 90-day warranty and RAC roadside assistance was included too) it wasn’t taxed. Therefore, we didn't get to drive the Ford at all, just sit in it and start it a couple of times to check stuff worked. Therefore, we can't tell you what it was like on the road, though if it was as described and with 11,557 miles on the clock it probably would have been, er, Fiesta-like. A small family saloon. No more, no less.
Cazoo states that they own all the cars for sale on their website, which means a lot of stock. That’s expensive. Cazoo also told us that none of the cars are ex-rental, or old taxis or anything else that you wouldn't want to own. The cars are more likely to be ex-lease vehicles. Hopefully that should mean you don't buy a car with a chequered past. Cazoo undertakes a 150-point check prior to a vehicle going on sale, so you pays your money and you takes your choice.
The other slightly annoying thing in our case was we got sent the registration documents a few days later. Cazoo said they wanted to showcase all of the emails and information that a typical customer would get. And, to be fair, it all seemed to work quite well. Unless, that is, you’re a reviewer who doesn't actually get to keep the car in order to see how things pan out over time.
Overall, Cazoo seems okay. As long as they’ll take the car back if you’re not entirely satisfied then it’s worth a go. It’ll also be interesting to see if the idea takes off as others have tried this and failed, at least here in the UK. It’s very similar to Carvana in the USA and that appears to be doing okay, so maybe Cazoo can do the same on this side of the pond. Albeit on a much smaller scale.