October 14, 2009

405 words 2 mins read

Carfax doesn't ‘do' Motorcycles

Carfax — Vehicle History Reports”, “The most trusted provider of vehicle history information”, “one-stop source for vehicle history information … CARFAX has the most comprehensive vehicle history database”.

You know what all these fragments have in common? The word vehicle (Noun) “A conveyance; a device for carrying or transporting substances, objects or individuals”. What Carfax doesn’t tell you, and I didn’t know, is that Carfax doesn’t do motorcycles. I found this somewhat surprising because motorcycle (noun) “An open-seated motor-powered vehicle with two wheels”. Key point, a motorcycle is a vehicle. Now, I’m willing to accept that Carfax doesn’t do motorcycles, I just wish they would make it clearer.

My story is fairly simple: I was looking online to buy a motorcycle.

I figured the smart thing to do would be to get an unlimited Carfax subscription for a month and check out the VINs. I tried out my newly acquired service on several of the bikes I was watching on ebay. Much to my puzzlement, many of them came back saying “Invalid VIN”. I know a few could have been typo’d, or maybe even fraudulent auctions, but half or more did not work and at some point I said to myself “This is more than just a glitch”. So I emailed Carfax. The next business day they told me the following:

The CARFAX Database contains over 7 billion records from over 20,000 data sources concerning cars and light trucks manufactured for the North American market since 1981. We’re unable to produce reports on other vehicles at this time.

On rare occasion, we will have random records in our database for non-covered vehicles. This is only due to the fact that some of our data sources provide these records electronically and our systems will display these records because they have a valid 17-digit Vehicle Identification Number.

So there you have it, they don’t do motorcycles, they only do cars & light trucks. Fine, but I still wish they would have made it clearer. So I requested a full refund. It took trading a few more emails to get them over than “canned response” crap, and they processed my refund. Took all of about 2 hours from when I received the quoted email above, to when I got the “we’re processing your refund” email. So I’m happy, if I ever go to buy a used car, I’ll sign up again. Until then, no more Carfax for motorcycles.