Beep Beep!

Buying a car in Austin just got way easier and — dare we say — fun

Buying a car in Austin just got way easier and — dare we say — fun

Beepi inspector car
Beepi sends out inspectors for every car listed for purchase. Courtesy photo
Car being delivered by Beepi
The author's Nissan Leaf getting delivered. Photo by Shelley Seale
Beepi inspector car
Car being delivered by Beepi

I could barely concentrate on anything else the day it was supposed to be delivered. My new car, an electric Nissan Leaf, was expected to arrive sometime between 1 and 4 pm, and I could hardly contain my excitement.

Finally, there she was, rolling up on a one-car trailer pulled by Peter of Beepi.com, who was hand-delivering my newly purchased auto. Not only was buying this car the easiest, most hassle-free way I have ever purchased a car, but it was actually — dare I say it? — fun.

I stumbled across Beepi by accident. I had been thinking about buying a Nissan Leaf for a number of months. I was letting my daughter use my previous car while I was car-sharing with a friend and getting around on my bike or scooter. If I were going to buy another car, it had to be a hybrid, at the very least. But I really had my eye on an all-electric.

I was already a fan of Nissan's, as my previous car was a Versa, so I test drove a Leaf at the dealership. I spent months looking at used cars — on the Nissan website and Craigslist, and through general Internet searches. That was how I came across the Beepi.com listing for the car I eventually bought.

It was a 2012 Leaf, ruby red in color, located in California, with a little more than 15,000 miles and still a lot of warranty left. Best of all, the price was just under $11,000 — a great deal, especially considering they sell for more than $35,000 brand-new.

I'd never heard of Beepi before, although I had come across other online car sales and, of course, was familiar with Ebay Motors. In fact, I once had a very, very bad experience purchasing a car through Ebay, and I had even gone to Fort Worth from my home in Austin to view in person before buying.

I looked at the Beepi website quite a bit, including FAQs, process and guarantee. Basically, this is how it works: It's a peer-to-peer marketplace in which individual sellers list their car for sale with the website, retaining physical ownership of the car until a potential buyer puts a deposit on it.

Before the car is listed, Beepi sends out company-employed automotive inspector specialists who give the car a 185-point detailed inspection and report. They accept only top-notch cars.

As a buyer, when you see a car you like on the website, you can put down a $500 deposit, and Beepi will deliver the car to your doorstep for free, at which point you can jump in it for the first time. If you decide you don't want to proceed with that particular car at all, your $500 will be fully refunded or can be applied to any other Beepi car purchase.

If you do want to buy the car, you take care of payment on the site with the Beepi representative (more on that in a minute), at which point you have 10 full days to drive the car and make certain you are entirely happy with it. If not, Beepi will take the vehicle back and give you a 100-percent refund, provided you have not driven the car more than 1,000 miles, or you haven't added on or taken away anything from the car.

For me this was really important, both because I was buying a car sight unseen and because I wanted to make sure an electric car would really fit into my lifestyle, because, like most people, I've never owned one before.

The entire process was easy, and I was impressed with the customer service I received. Before I ever plunked down my deposit, I emailed numerous questions to Beepi, about the car itself and the process. Every team member responded quickly, with complete information about what I asked (such as additional photos, including one of the charger), and they were all very polite and never seemed tired of my numerous questions.

Once I had put the car purchase in motion, the representatives were communicative every step of the way, letting me know exactly what was going on during the 10 days it took for them to retrieve the car from the seller, have it transported to Texas and detailed, then delivered to me at my home. In fact, the day before delivery, I received an email informing me that the front bumper of the car had received a few small scratches during transport, and that Beepi had these repaired. But if I wasn't 100-percent satisfied with the touch-up, they would repaint the entire car for me. Everything was forthright and professional.

Beepi also includes a three-month/3,000-mile, bumper-to-bumper warranty on every car, in addition to any manufacturer's warranty left. The company started in California and has since expanded to Texas, among other states. The market launch provides residents with local inventory, vehicle inspectors and customer service resources to support its secure online car buying and selling platform in Dallas and Austin and, soon, Houston and San Antonio.

One of the best parts to me was the payment options, which are varied. The site has an online process to apply for financing, which seems pretty straightforward. For paying cash, Beepi will take any combination of cashier's check, wire transfer and credit card payments; you can even spread out the payment among multiple cards. Beepi also accepts Bitcoin.

I used four different credit cards to buy my Nissan and received major reward points from each. In the end, not only did I get the new-to-me electric car I'd been dreaming of, but I also will end up with about 100,000 in airline miles and other credit card bonus rewards.

There are a few things that could make the online interface better. I wish there was an option for saving car listings, so you can go back and easily find the cars you are interested in. It also would be nice to have a feature that allows potential buyers to sign up to receive notifications about new cars that become available that match their criteria.

I've been driving my Leaf for about a month now, and I love it. I've nicknamed her "Ruby," and we are having a blast tooling around Austin without gas, ever. The best part is, I didn't get a migraine buying a car.