The ubiquity of computers has seemingly made everything digital, these days. Everything from gift cards to checking accounts exist entirely in the digital realm. But there’s one important arena that’s sticking to paper: Car loans. Yet e-contracting is better for everyone, dealer and customer alike.
What Is E-Contracting?
Currently, the process of drafting, printing, and signing legal documents can take days when done in person; the contract has to be carefully printed, and reprinted if the document isn’t completely clean. It needs to be spell-checked, double-checked to ensure the agreement has all the pages in place, in the proper order, and available; it needs to be checked again to make sure the terms you both agreed to are correct; copies need to be made; and this entire process needs to be repeated for each contract you sign, and for each step in the process. For a loan, that means you, the dealership, and the lender all need to receive copies, read them over, and sign. And if they get lost in the mail, it’s back to square one.
This is why your local dealership has a nice coffee machine, toys for the kids, and a big television; any given day, you’re going to have at least a few people patiently waiting as the printer churns out the paperwork and it’s brought to them to sign.
“E-contracting” is short for “electronic contracts,” and it’s more or less what it sounds like: Legal documents are generated digitally and often even signed and approved digitally, removing the need to visit in person. Ironically, software is often used to generate these contracts in the first place. Most dealerships and the finance companies they work with use standard language, not unlike the legal version of Mad Libs, where very little changes from contract to contract. They just have to fill in the holes, by hand, and then have those changes approved by their boss before you sign on the dotted line and finally get the keys to your new car. All e-contracting does, really, is move the process entirely to the Internet.
Shifting this process to the Internet would be relatively simple, but some companies are slow to change. And, truthfully, some customers are suspicious of anything that involves electrons over ink and paper.
But it’s better for everyone. Because they don’t need to be sent via mail or courier, e-contracting can cut the car-buying process down to hours instead of days. It also frees consumers from having to be physically at the dealership; once the documents are created, it’s simply a matter of looking at them on your computer, tablet, or phone. Apps are in the works that allow you to page through contracts and read them word for word, if you so desire, before signing.
The main push to make e-contracting the standard needs to come from dealerships, and in turn, dealerships need to hear from customers. So, for the sake of saving time and getting your car on the road faster, ask your dealership if you can use e-contracting. It’s the best for everyone.