Following recent articles concerning comments attributed to BEIS in connection with remote (online) sales and deliveries by certain media publications, the NFDA has spoken to a senior official in BEIS for clarification. The clarification obtained can be summarised as follows:
- Contrary to media reports, no official statement has been released by BEIS in the last few days regarding dealers’ entitlement to sell remotely and deliver cars to customers.
- It was suggested that the comments attributed to BEIS yesterday by some parts of the automotive media, would have come from a member of the BEIS press office and should not be taken as official guidance; nor should they be taken as a statement or recommendation that dealers should open, sell online or deliver vehicles etc. It is not up to BEIS to determine the commercial approaches taken by businesses.
- The position of BEIS has not changed from earlier guidance. BEIS’ position is that a retailer’s (dealer’s) decision to sell remotely (including online) and deliver products remains exclusively a decision for the dealer.
- This decision will naturally be informed by a range of considerations arising from the present COVID-19 crisis, not simply whether the dealer technically has the right to sell online and deliver cars in accordance with Government guidance.
- As an aside, if one party were to be forcing or applying pressure to another party to trade and deliver products to customers at the present time – where the latter was not comfortable that all of the relevant precautions could be taken or was otherwise ill-equipped to do so as a result of issues connected with COVID-19 - this would raise concerns, and is something that should be reported to BEIS.
- BEIS has no immediate plans to issue further guidance to supplement or amend that already issued in the previous weeks by the COVID-19 Response Team of the Cabinet Office. Businesses should, if they require further guidance at this stage, - including in terms of the precautions to follow if choosing to sell remotely and offer deliveries (which is an option as already explained by the likes of the NFDA) - seek it from responsible and professional trade bodies, such as the NFDA and SMMT.