Increasing buyer transparency on final vehicle purchase prices

Levelling the playing field on admin fees

Why is Auto Trader looking at admin fees?

Being transparent with potential buyers and winning their trust has never been more important. It’s crucial that potential buyers understand the full cost of your vehicle during their research phase and are not surprised with any unexpected charges at the point of purchase.

As we continue to improve the user experience on Auto Trader, through improving buyer trust, transparency and saving buyers valuable time, we’re are developing a new solution to ensure potential buyers can understand the full cost of a vehicle on Auto Trader, including any additional compulsory charges such as administration (admin) fees.

What is an admin fee?

An admin fee is a compulsory charge that a buyer must pay to complete the transaction with you and purchase the vehicle. As a retailer you have a duty to ensure that the final price payable, including any unavoidable and foreseeable components must be clearly advertised to the potential buyer, including on marketplaces like ours.

I offer additional value add products, are these admin fees?

No. Anything which is entirely optional for the buyer is not an admin fee. Many retailers offer value-add products or services which can enhance the buying and ownership experience but are not essential to complete the purchase of the vehicle advertised. These are not classed as admin fees and can include:

  • Warranty/extended warranty
  • GAP insurance
  • Paint protection
  • Service plan
  • Membership schemes with benefits
  • Home delivery fee

Our approach to admin fees

In order to ensure a transparent experience for car buyers and to help our retail customers clearly communicate the price of the vehicle alongside any optional services they offer, we are launching new features in phases.

Admin Fees - Phase 1

Highlighting retailers who do not charge admin fees

Our first phase in this approach is to highlight on Auto Trader search listings and full-page adverts those retailers who do not charge admin fees. We will do this from 8 June by applying a “no admin fees” flag to search listings for those retailers who select to display this in line with our advertising terms and conditions.

Coming soon

The next phase will see more improvements later this year. Admin fees will be clearly labelled on Auto Trader where retailers do charge them. Plus, we’ll do more to highlight other value add services you provide more clearly to buyers.

Admin fees to be shown on Auto Trader

The first part of phase 2 will be to help retailers who do charge admin fees comply with trading standards regulations and clearly display this to potential buyers in search results and on their Auto Trader adverts.

This phase will not be released until late summer 2020, but we want to be transparent about our plans and the full solution we’re working towards. We’ll provide more information as this part of the solution develops.

Highlighting your value-add services more clearly

We recognise that many retailers provide additional value-add services which are optional for a buyer to purchase such as service plans or warranties. We are looking to do more to help you sell these features to potential buyers.

This will follow in Autumn 2020.

Important dates

If you don't charge admin fees

  • From 3 June you can opt-in via Portal to display the "No admin fees" flag on your adverts
  • From 8 June onwards this will be rolled out across desktop, mobile web and our consumer mobile app

If you do charge admin fees

  • Please answer the question in Portal with “Yes” and over the summer we'll be in touch to collect your details.
  • From late summer (timelines to be agreed), the advertised price on Auto Trader and the price used to generate the vehicle valuation and price indicator will be inclusive of the admin fee.
Ben Smith

Hear from Ben Smith
our product lead for consumer products

Ben shares more of the background and process him and the team have been through in arriving at these solutions.

View blog post

Frequently Asked Questions

If it is compulsory that the consumer pays this fee when purchasing a vehicle then it is an admin fee, regardless of the products and services that are included in this and you should say that you do charge admin fees. In the future, we will give you more opportunities to explain the value of this to consumers on your adverts. Currently, we would advise you to use the advert text and attention grabber to clearly describe the services you offer.

If the consumer has the option to not pay this fee, and this is presented to them in a clear and transparent way, it is classed as a value add consumer product and you can say that you do not charge an admin fee.

If the admin fee is clearly presented as optional to the consumer and they are able to purchase the vehicle without paying this fee, we view this as a value add consumer product and not an admin fee. The consumer must have a choice as to whether they pay this fee. If they choose to not pay this admin fee they are not purchasing your value add product and they will not receive the benefit of any associated products or services.

Not during the first phase of the project. The “No admin fees” label will be managed at a dealership (DID) level, and by selecting this it will appear on all of your adverts, across all channels. If you charge admin fees on any of your stock, you must answer the question ‘Does my dealership charge admin fees’ with “Yes” or any adverts where you do charge an admin fee will be misleading.

In the next phase of this admin fees project we will be giving you the opportunity to manage admin fees at a channel and stock item level.

If at any time you start charging admin fees you must go into Portal and answer “Yes” to the question ‘Does my dealership charge admin fees?’ If you fail to do this you will be misleading consumers about admin fees and this will be managed via the misleading adverts process.

We cannot know the method of payment that a consumer will choose to use when they are searching on Auto Trader, therefore we do not include any admin fees specific to a method of payment (for example finance).

If a finance lender charges an administration fee when taking out car finance which is payable to the lender and not the retailer, this is not treated as an admin fee and is treated as part of the credit agreement.

If a retailer charges a compulsory fee for consumers who use finance arranged outside of your panel of lenders, this is treated as an admin fee and you must answer the question 'Does your dealership charge admin fees' with yes.

If a retailer offers free home delivery, this service is, by definition, included in the advertised price.

If a retailer offers an optional home delivery service at a cost, this is considered a value add consumer product. If it is a service that has additional value beyond the purchase of the car (the convenience), and is something they have to option to not pay (assuming that they are given the option to collect the car and there is no charge associated with this).

If a retailer only offers home delivery and the customer has no option but to pay for delivery, then this must either be included in the advertised price, or if delivery is a separate compulsory fee, you must answer “Yes” to the question “Does my dealership charge admin fees” and state in your advert the cost of delivery.

The “No admin fees” marker will be applied to all car, van, bike and motorhome adverts. The only platform not covered is our commercial platform.

Retailers and consumers can report vehicle adverts they deem to be in breach of our advertising terms and conditions using the “report advert” function selecting the “admin fee” option. We will take such action as we may deem appropriate in accordance with our advertising terms and conditions, which may include the removal of a retailer’s adverts.

Yes, if you include any compulsory admin fees into the advertised price and there are no further compulsory fees the consumer must pay to purchase the vehicle, then you can select “No, I don’t charge admin fees” and receive the “No admin fees” market on your adverts.

If you don’t charge admin fees but pass on the cost of a 3rd party admin fee (i.e. a finance broker) to the consumer you may answer that you DO NOT charge admin fees. In this scenario you must make it clear to the buyer that this is an admin fee payable to a 3rd party and include this separately on the sales invoice. You may also choose to not pass on the fee to the buyer and absorb it in the vehicle margin.