I sometimes take issues with surveys and studies. In a lot of cases, companies or trade groups uses studies to create fear, manipulate public opinion, or spin a positive message. In other cases, the studies or surveys are just not conducted properly.
Another survey was released recently, which offered insights into the car-buying experience from consumers. The survey was conducted by a newly launched website that offers educational tools for potential car buyers.
While most of the published survey results dealt with the actual process of buying a car, there were some financing-related insights, too. Most notably:
- According to the survey, 44% of car buyers did not know their credit score, and
- 47% didn’t try to get pre-approved for financing
Even though less than half of those surveyed did any financing-related homework prior to buying their vehicle, nearly 80% of surveyed car buyers indicated that they had visited at least one website (manufacturer, dealer, or general automotive information) prior to buying a car.
Which brings me to my point: At a time when financial institutions are often accused of taking advantage of consumers who are uneducated or unaware of the financing process, are lenders doing enough to prepare their customers? How proactive should lenders be in educating their customers, and the general public, about what’s involved in getting a car loan?
Being proactive means more than posting some information on a website. It means more than a statement stuffer.
There is a tremendous amount of goodwill that is up for grabs for institutions that want to go out into local communities and offer honest-to-goodness financial education. There are a tremendous amount of business opportunities for institutions that want to partner with dealerships or other local companies in helping educate the public. There is a tremendous opportunity to use the internet to reach out to individual customers and offer resources and educational tools.
Or is consumer education not a responsibility that falls on the shoulders of those lending the money? Caveat emptor?