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Sunday, November 7, 1999 Published at 16:17 GMT


Car dealers 'patronise women'

Hot seat: Sports cars are a favourite for many women

Car dealers are still talking down to women, a survey suggests.

Despite 93% of women over 35 owning their own car, three out of five felt that car dealers did not treat them seriously.

Three in five women said dealers assumed they only wanted to drive "runarounds" when as many as 14% wanted a sports car or an open-topped coupe, said the survey from IPC magazines and Citroen.

It appears that car dealers have failed to change up a gear since a 1996 Which? magazine survey in which three of the five female researchers felt that some salesmen were reluctant to deal with women.

The same survey found that many car dealers were "lazy, incompetent and even law-breaking".

Eight researchers for Which? visited dealers in the Midlands, the north west and the south east of England, posing as new car buyers. In each area they went to the main dealer for the biggest makers - Ford, Vauxhall, Rover, Peugeot, Citroen and Volkswagen.

Better drivers

In more than a quarter of cases the researchers said they would not be happy to buy a new car from the dealers they had visited.

They found bored staff who fobbed customers off with leaflets. A researcher who went to one Rover dealer in Birmingham said: "One salesman went out for a cigarette. I felt we could be interrupting their quiet life".

The IPC survey survey of 2,300 women aged 35 also found that 63% of women felt they were better drivers than their male counterparts.

But men have already put their hands up on that controversial topic.

While around 23% pointed the finger at women, 25% admitted that men were poorer drivers in a Mori survey earlier this month.

Of all the 2,000 adults questioned, 38 per cent said men were the worst drivers while only 18% thought women were.

However, the most savage condemnation in the survey was reserved for white van drivers and salesmen, who were voted "worst drivers of all" by 47%.

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