Auto Trader's Weasel Words

I’m trying to sell my BMW on Auto Trader at the moment, and despite it being something of a bargain I’ve had no calls in the week it’s been online. Today I think I might have worked out one possible reason - a helpful Auto Trader feature called TeleSafe.

TeleSafe is an opt-in phone number-masking and call-screening service provided by Auto Trader ostensibly to protect sellers’ privacy and reduce the number of canvassing and agency calls they might get.

When setting up an ad, sellers are prompted to tick a box to use TeleSafe - it’s “free to use!” says the copy (the checkbox is marked, “tick here to use this FREE service”) - but this is only half the story. After a bit of absent-minded Googling today I found out that, had I read a bit more about TeleSafe, I’d have discovered that punters calling my masked number would be charged as much as 37.5p/minute for the privilege. So while it might well be free for the seller, any prospective buyer is going to be hit with a hefty charge just for phoning up about a car.

When using this service, Auto Trader places a nice prominent TeleSafe logo next to the phone number on the ad. So any would-be buyer who knows about the premium rate charges can easily avoid any listing using the service, and I’m hoping that’s the explanation for the non-ringing of my phone.

Obviously I should have read more about TeleSafe before I opted to use it, but I’m a bit miffed at the wording of the copy on the ad editor. Had Auto Trader been a bit more transparent about the charges to the end-user for this service, I’d have left it well alone.