All women drivers need to be on the alert when buying a used car. Hertfordshire Trading Standards officers have uncovered a new second-hand car scam; fake service logbooks which are readily available on the internet. An up to date logbook can convince you that a car has been well looked after when it hasn’t and you might pay more for it.
Trading Standards officers posing as customers were able to buy a number of forged car service history log books online varying in price from £9.99 to £35, as part of an investigation within the Office of Fair Trading’s (OFT) ‘Know Your Consumer Rights’ campaign.
Each book had a variety of different miles and service checks for different car brands. In two cases officers were even asked how many stamps they wanted, including a pre-delivery stamp at the beginning of the book to certify that the vehicle had met inspection standards. These make it relatively easy to fake a vehicle’s service history; just write in how many miles the vehicle has travelled, with a dealer stamp.
In addition, two of the service history books had been illegally reproduced, infringing the car maker’s trademark.
Herts Trading Standards also report that their most common complaint is about used cars bought from independent dealers. In the first eight months of 2010 they received around 1,350 complaints. Whereas OFT managed Consumer Direct reports considerably more complaints to do with independent car dealers (c50k in 2009) than franchised ones but you are not immune here (c15k complaints).
Remember that this is an unregulated part of the motor industry; anyone can sell cars. Typical complaints include selling dangerous cars, charging misleading prices, quoting incorrect warranty terms and employing aggressive sales tactics and chatting up and patronising women of course. In addition, motorists have little or no protection in law if the used car they buy from a private individual turns out to be an expensive dud to run and repair.
Our advice to women considering buying a used car is to
choose a female friendly approved dealer who has signed the ethical FOXY Promise to ‘never overcharge, patronise or sell women services they don’t need.’
- Don’t buy one ‘as seen’ – this will negate your customer rights afterwards. This often happens at car auctions.
- Always carry out the equivalent of an HPI used car history check in case of outstanding finance, theft or an accident write off
- Consider commissioning a vehicle inspection (where this is not included – check what any ‘Approved’ status means if stated)
- Check the authenticity of stamps in the service history book (where in doubt ask TSI for help here).
If you have any problems and are a member of FOXY Lady Drivers Club we’ll help you sort it out and, where the business is clearly disreputable, we’ll spread the word to other FOXY Ladies within your area – in a feminine way of course ;-).
Name, shame and blame seems to be the only way forward when TSI, Which? and other consumer watchdogs can’t tell consumers who the bad guys are ‘for legal reasons.’
Join FOXY Lady Drivers Club to know who and where the best garages, dealers and dealerships are in your area. This matters because otherwise your car could be unsafe without you realising this. And for a whole host of other good reasons too…