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Positive reviews leave MG on top among Australia’s car dealers

Reviews can give you an idea of what to expect at a dealership, but they don't tell the whole story.

Reviews can give you an idea of what to expect at a dealership, but they don't tell the whole story. Photo: Getty

June is the best month to buy a car, and new data reveals what car dealerships impressed Australians the most.

The end of the financial year (EOFY) on June 30 is, for most businesses in Australia, the time when manufacturers and dealerships are more willing to slash prices, and offer cheaper financing or free services to maximise yearly profits and reach their EOFY targets, RateCity states.

With not enough supply to meet local demand thanks largely to pandemic disruptions, new and second-hand cars have become more expensive in recent years, meaning more buyers may be looking to take advantage of June’s favourable terms.

Choosing the right dealer is an important part of the process when buying a new car, with everything from customer service to delivery processes capable of having a major effect on a buyers’ experience.

MG cars may be a rarer sight on Australian roads compared to Fords and Toyotas, but the British-Chinese automotive manufacturer’s dealerships outperformed all other car brand dealerships with positive reviews, according to research by finance platform MNY.

MG dealerships scored the best customer reviews in Australia. Source: MNY

‘Time’ was the most used keyword in reviews for MG dealerships, appearing in 16.7 per cent and 15.2 per cent of reviews, respectively.

This could imply the dealerships had unexpectedly quick turnaround times; a huge factor in a dealership’s favour given the lengthy wait times many new-car buyers have been facing in recent years.

MG’s timely performance may have been boosted due to its association with parent company SAIC, as the latter has used its own ships to bring MG vehicles to Australia.

In May, MG announced that the arrival of a SAIC-owned car carrier at Port Kembla from Shanghai marked the first time MG Motor Australia had filled an entire ship’s manifest with its own vehicles.

The ship was packed with more than 3100 new MG Motor hatchbacks and SUVs.

For the lower-rated Toyota dealerships, ‘time’ only appeared in just over 1 per cent of reviews, meaning the turnaround times may have been unremarkable, if not bad.

Look beyond reviews

Although the rankings may give an idea as to what car brands have the best dealerships in Australia, MNY business analyst Sabina Khanusiak said they might not tell the whole story.

“While Toyota may have a decent average rating score of 4.29 [out of 5], it’s worth noting that their no-frills reputation could be a factor in why their dealership ratings are just satisfactory,” she said.

“It is important customers do their due diligence, as our research discovered that new dealerships with limited reviews also have lower average ratings.” 

MNY found some dealerships might promise special offers or small discounts in exchange for a perfect review, meaning a customer might have a bad experience but still give a five-star rating to be eligible for the special offer.

The fact that no two customers are alike should also be considered; people could receive identical service and come away feeling completely different.

You also might not be able to tell just from reading a review which part of their car-buying experience a reviewer has chosen to focus on.

For example, some reviewers analysed by MNY complained about the car park layout or the way that the front desk answered the phone, while one Toyota customer in Canberra even wrote that he was happy with a dealership’s customer service, but he didn’t like an employee’s moustache.

Demographics play a role

MG may have also benefitted from its customer demographics, with MNY finding 72 reviews were posted per 1000 MG vehicles registered, compared to 22 reviews per 1000 Isuzu vehicles.

Some dealerships are reviewed more than others. Source: MNY

MNY said some customer bases are more predisposed to posting online ratings.

With Isuzu and Toyota known as lower-cost brands, their customers may be more focused on getting a car that meets their basic needs rather than worrying about any extra features or the details of their purchase experience.

On the other hand, MG is positioned as a higher-end brand, so its customers could have more specific standards and expectations from the brand’s dealership, and could be more likely to leave a review, MNY said.

MNY compared vehicle sales and registration data from the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries, the Bureau of Infrastructure and Transport Research Economics, and CarExpert.com.au with almost 300,000 Google reviews from 1374 car dealerships to find which car brand has the top-ranked dealerships in Australia.

Topics: Cars
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