When the Ontario Government narrowed the list of essential workplaces on
Saturday April 4, a few things became clear:
- Dealers had to close showrooms and physical operations relating to
vehicle sales and leasing.
- Online or remote sales could continue in some fashion.
Repairs could continue as an essential workplace service, but
parts sales could only continue online or with curbside pickup or remote
With test drives from a dealer’s premises prohibited, remote test drives,
i.e. test drives from a customer’s home or other location, have become a
confusing and controversial issue. OMVIC has declared that remote test
drives are not permitted.
It’s safe to say that most people will be reluctant to consider purchasing a
used vehicle without having had the chance to test drive it. Having said
that, it’s impossible to go on a test drive in most vehicles with a customer
and maintain the two metre (six foot) distance between each other.
The need for this social distancing is the reason that dealers were taken
off of the essential services list. To go on a test drive with a customer
defeats the entire purpose of the prohibition of sales from dealer’s
So does no test drive mean no sales …. Period?
We don’t think so.
The UCDA suggests that members consider the following option:
During this shut down, in lieu of a pre-sale test drive, all purchasers be
given a 100% refundable period after taking possession and ownership of a
vehicle. If the customer is not satisfied during this period, they can
return the vehicle, no questions asked, for a full refund.
Members can determine for themselves how long this period would be. It could
be 24 or 48 hours, or three days, seven days or ten days. You decide.
Of course, maximum km limitations could be put in place and the vehicle
would need to be returned in the same condition as when sold. All these
details should be included in writing on the bill of sale or a separate
agreement signed digitally.
Following this model, prior to delivery, all documents will have already
been signed digitally, payment will have been made and the vehicle will have
been insured, registered and plated in the customer’s name.
Many members have followed similar policies for years. In their experience,
very few buyers choose to exercise their return rights as long as the
vehicle is as advertised.
This kind of policy will not only instill confidence in your customer that
you will stand behind the vehicle. It shows respect for the importance of
social distancing and the protection of both your customers and your
employees. If widely adopted, it will send a strongly positive message about
our industry to government, media and the general public.
We strongly recommend that you give it serious consideration.