Tuesday, January 25, 2022

Web offers alternative to car lot

October 27, 2000

Three years ago it seemed odd to buy a car in pajamas and slippers at 3 a.m.

But now that the e-commerce boom has hit the automobile industry and consumers’ garages, it isn’t even necessary to leave the house when shopping for a car.

“It’s really about customer convenience,” said Leigh Morehouse, the Internet manager for Spartan Motor Mall, 5701 S. Pennsylvania Ave. in Lansing. “We have been selling (cars) over the Internet for 3 years.”

Morehouse said Internet-related car sales at the dealership have become more popular in the last year, selling about 20 vehicles each month.

However, Morehouse said he knows there are two sides to buying a car over the Internet.

“There are positives and negatives for the consumer,” he said. “It makes shopping different and more dealerships available.

“On the other hand, there is less service and less personalized information that the consumer would have available from going in person.”

Teri Nageotte, Internet specialist and sales assistant for Pres Kool Chevrolet Inc., 1748 W. Grand River Ave., in Okemos, said people just have to warm up to the feature and online car-purchasing is sure to take-off.

“I think (Internet sales) are something that continues to grow, but right now it is still a slow process,” Nageotte said. “People are still leery about (buying cars on the Internet) anyway, (but they) will use the Internet trying to gather information without coming into the dealership.”

Melanie Stein found the Internet helpful last summer when she looked for a car.

“I did my research this summer and I spent a lot of time looking at things like safety, price and resale values,” said Stein, a Lyman Briggs sophomore. “I found it helpful because I don’t know anything about cars and it helps you find them.”

While the Internet is useful for research, many students are skeptical about buying a car online.

“I would be wary buying a car online because you don’t know what you are getting yourself into,” Stein said. “It’s a lot of money to spend without seeing the actual product you are buying first.”

R. Dale Wilson, a marketing professor, said buying a car over the Internet is risky.

“In marketing, we call this a high involvement purchase,” Wilson said. “Especially considering it can be an economic risk and social risk.”

Sarah Nevins, a biochemistry and political science sophomore, said she doesn’t like anything she can’t see and touch first.

“It makes me nervous because you don’t know what you are buying and (there’s) no guarantee.

“Who do I ship it back to, www.autotrader.com? There isn’t exactly a return shipping address there,” she said.

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