Seller contact

18.11.2012 16:33

Contact & inspection

  • The seller insists on e-mail communication only and is not available over the phone.
  • The seller continues to refuse a test drive or vehicle inspection for various reasons.

What to do:
Play it safe and give up on this offer. Better pass on a supposed bargain rather than incur unnecessary risks. Report the ad to the online marketplace using the link provided and tell them your experience.


Payment terms

  • In the course of the transaction, the seller insists on advance or down payment.
  • The seller insists on involving an alleged escrow service or shipping company to handle the purchase.

What to do:
Never remit any money or make a down payment! The normal procedure is delivery versus payment, i.e. you pay when you receive the vehicle and vehicle certificates! Online market portals in Germany do not offer escrow services – Exception: the eBay Motors escrow service.


Escrow service / shipping company

  • The seller insists on involving an alleged escrow service or shipping company to handle the purchase.

What to to: 
Since Internet car marketplaces are not involved in the actual purchase process, they cannot offer such service. The “stop escrow fraud” group has compiled a list with known fraud sites and keeps it up to date. You can find an overview of known escrow fraud sites including their screenshots here!


Confirmation-e-mail from the Internet marketplace

  •  The Internet marketplace confirms the legitimacy of the vehicle and the seller’s bona fides.

What to do:
No Internet marketplace verifies the data of its users. Break off contact with the would-be seller and do not conclude a sale. Use the link provided in the ad to report this ad to the hosting Internet marketplace and give an account of your experience.

Checking vehicle reports and stickers

  • The seller affirms that the data about the vehicle condition is correct, referring to the documents provided (e. g. service history booklet, exhaust emission test report and general inspection report) and the stickers on the vehicle.
  • However, after inspecting and test driving the vehicle, you are in doubt about the correctness of the information.

What to do?
Check if all important documents are available (e. g. Part I and Part II Registration Certificate (registration certificate and ownership certificate), exhaust emission test report and general inspection report, service history booklet). Check the service history booklet. Was it updated regularly and is all information comprehensible? It is very important that you check the general condition of the vehicle. Is a recent general inspection reasonable at the present moment? If you are in doubt, contact the technical inspection agency (e. g. TÜV, GTÜ, DEKRA) which inspected the vehicle according to the documents provided. Alternatively, go to a workshop and have the car’s condition assessed by an expert. The stamp in the registration certificate or the vehicle report shows where the vehicle has been assessed. Moreover, you will find the contact data of the workshop which carried out the last inspection in the service history booklet. GTÜ Gesellschaft für Technische Überwachung mbH even enables to check over the Internet whether or not a vehicle was inspected by GTÜ. For the GTÜ search, please click here…

Checking the odometer reading

  • The seller claims that the mileage is correct pointing to the figures on the odometer. However, you are in doubt about the correctness of the information.

What to do?
Do not rely on seller’s claims such as “mileage as per odometer” or “mileage as read“. The seller is just providing information without guaranteeing or warranting anything. Insist on a written confirmation of the “actual mileage” in the purchase agreement. Take a thorough look at the car when you go to pick it up – does its appearance match the indicated mileage? A closer look at specific parts of the vehicle may provide some indication as to the credibility of the mileage shown. In cars that have covered many miles, the shift stick and steering wheel sometimes bear discernible traces of handling and rubber pedal pads look heavily worn. Frequent opening and closing also leave marks on the plastic covers of oddment bins and on door seals. However, the absence of any visible cabin wear and tear does not guarantee a low (actual) mileage. The materials used in modern cars are much more wear-resistant and may hardly look worn even in vehicles with a six-digit mileage. You should therefore check the oil change tag in the engine compartment as well as the service tag on the B pillar, the service history booklet in the glove box and other documents in which the mileage is noted – which should not be higher than the figures shown on the odometer. In addition, ask the buyer for documentation of odometer readings (workshop invoices, exhaust emission and general inspection reports, fuel receipts with the mileage shown, etc.). The exhaust pipe may be a good indicator of the actual mileage: When a car has been driven through many winters, the exhaust pipe connection clamps become corroded. We also recommend to have the vehicle inspected including DTC memory readout by an independent entity (ADAC, DEKRA, GTÜ, KÜS, TÜV, etc.). Some DTC entries are stored along with a mileage reading. Higher mileage figures than those on the odometer may be an important clue that this is a fraud. Do bear in mind, however, that mileage fraud will be difficult to prove even with state-of-the-art workshop equipment. Please click here for further information (german)…

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