They Literally Buy Any Car

A blog post by Albert Semple

26 Feb 2024

I had a colleague, Gareth from Caerphilly, who had a nice 2002 Land Rover Freelander for a couple of years. Its clutch started to slip when travelling over 50 miles per hour, and the estimate to fix it was more than he could stomach,so he decided it was time to get rid of it. He couldn’t sell it to a private buyer with a clear conscience, so he sought out a trade buyer.

There was a company, whose name and advertising suggested they would buy any car, who gave an online quote for the car that he was quite happy with. I warned him to expect some pretty sharp haggling on the price of the car at that point, so he enlisted me to come along for moral support as we headed down to our appointment.

The buyer gave the car a good inspection, leaning down to check all the angles were straight, inspecting the panel gaps, kicking the tyres, checking there were no check engine lights.

“Can we just take it round the car park for a test drive?”. Their building had a car park all the way around it, so a quick lap at a maximum of 10 mph (well within the capability of the diminished clutch) was enough to assure him the car was mechanically sound.

Then he produced a little handheld device and pressed it up against the panels of the car. “Ah, this device measures the paint thickness, and I can tell that the paint is thicker on this rear quarter panel of the car, and that means the car has been in an accident at some point and been repaired. I’ll have to reduce the price we would pay for the car.”

“That’s a shame,” Gareth said, knowing that the car had never been in an accident, while managing to keep a straight face.

“Are there any optional extras on the car?” he asked.

Gareth told him, “Yes, the stereo has been upgraded to one with built-in Bluetooth.”

He sucked through his teeth, “We’re not keen on aftermarket accessories – they don’t add any value to the car at all.”

“So if the car didn’t have a stereo, you’d pay the same price as one with an aftermarket stereo?”

“That’s right, I’m afraid. We value the car as if it doesn’t have a stereo.”

Gareth shook hands on the reduced price, and the buyer went into his office to fetch the cash from the safe. As soon as he was out of sight Gareth pulled a small screwdriver out the glove box, poked it in the sides of the stereo (first the left, then the right) and pulled the stereo out in one fluid movement, and yanked the cabling free from the car.

When the buyer returned from the office, the car no longer had a stereo, just a gaping hole in the middle of the dash and a mass of wires dangling from the dashboard. We headed for the bus stop, Gareth with a pocketful of cash and a Bluetooth car stereo under his arm, me with some questions about Gareth's misspent youth.

He gave that stereo away to another colleague with an old car — they were grateful for the upgrade!