New car buyers put off by 'rip-off prices'

British car buyers believe they are more likely to be overcharged when buying a new car than a second-hand one, a survey has found.

Fifty-five per cent of consumers believe they are being ripped off by the high price of new cars, according to a survey by Mintel, but only 27 per cent thought they were being over-charged for used cars.

Although just 5 per cent said they would consider buying a car over the internet, more consumers are considering buying abroad or delaying replacing their car in the hope prices will fall.

Women were less concerned than men about being overcharged, although men were twice as likely as women to have confidence in buying cars. One-third of those questioned said that the twice yearly change of car registrations made no difference to their car buying intentions.

The main factors in choosing a car were running costs (51 per cent), suitablity to family needs (43 per cent), reputation of brand for reliability (42 per cent) and safety and security features (42 per cent). The style of car was rated least important.

"The claim that car buyers are victims of 'rip-off Britain'' contributed to an 11 per cent decrease in new car sales to private buyers in January over the previous year," said Richard Caines, a retail consultant.

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