Too many motorists suffer bad service in silence to do with car sales and garage services because they don’t know their consumer rights.
Let’s face it, if you don’t know your rights, a bad car dealer is likely to pretend that these are restricted to any warranty (that’s probably JUST expired…) when the truth may be very different.
If only you’d known your consumer rights to stand up to the business at the time.
The Consumer Rights Act 2015 replaced the previous Sale of Goods Act and is intended to make it easier for motorists to reject faulty cars and get a refund, rather then the previous repair or replace choices, providing this is within 6 months after purchase.
Your Consumer Rights
Under the 2015 Consumer Rights Act…
- Car buyers have an early right to reject a car within 30 days of buying it and get a full refund if is of unsatisfactory quality, not as described or doesn’t conform to the example shown (more applicable to new cars) BUT the onus is on the buyer to prove it.
- If a buyer rejects a car between 30 days and six months after ONE repair doesn’t fix the problem, then in theory the buyer is entitled to a refund (see 7 below).
- When a car dealer asks you to sign a statement at car collection time that there were no apparent faults, relax – this will not affect your rights in law should anything go wrong later. However you have no right to reject a car at a later stage to do with any defects that were brought to your attention or were clearly evident at the time of purchase.
- The presumption of the Act is that if something goes wrong with a car during the first six months of ownership, it’s fair to assume it was there at the time of delivery…
- …whereas if something goes wrong with the car after 6 months then it’s up to the buyer to prove that the dealer knew about this at the time of sale.
- Reasonable expectations are covered as well. If you discussed and chose a brand new car with a panoramic roof (this is an actual complaint) but the version of the car delivered didn’t have one and you hadn’t been told this, you could reject this and get a refund.
- However, if you are entitled to a refund, the dealer is entitled to charge you for reasonable use of the car whilst you had this, to be offset against any damages you can demonstrate. But there are no guidelines as yet, to suggest what sort of costs would be involved here.
Dealing with a faulty car or a bad garage experience
When things go wrong don’t lose your cool. You will be expected to negotiate/reach an amicable resolution between you. Ms Nice can (normally) expect to do better here than Ms Angry. When a genuine mistake has been made, you need to give the business the chance to make amends – or to further prove their cowboy characteristics.
Here are some practical tips to help here.
- Document and date all contact and what was discussed.
- Obtain photocopies (not originals) of everything relevant – this might be needed by a third party.
- If the car sales person hasn’t confirmed any special requirements in writing to you, put any that you have in writing and ask him/her to counter-sign this at the time of placing an order. This then forms the basis of your contract and it needs to be 100% accurate, leaving nothing to chance.
- Always put any dissatisfaction in writing, politely, as a record of events. If you have to take this further, this written evidence demonstrates your reasonableness and, if the business fails to respond adequately to this within 14 working days, this COULD demonstrate their lack of care, professionalism and even competence in your favour.
- If you’ve had a bad garage experience and feel that the business hasn’t done a good enough job or might have overcharged you, you may find the template letters supplied by Which? are helpful here.
- Any garage that has repaired your car (or is in the process of so doing) has what is known as a ‘lien’ on your car. That’s the right to keep a car on the premises until payment has been made for the work done, or storage even. If you remove your car from the garage without their authorisation you risk civil proceedings and could face criminal prosecution in some parts of the UK. The only alternative, other than legal proceedings or leaving your car whilst things are sorted out, is to pay the amount demanded, marking the invoice ‘paid under protest.’ And then take matters further of course.
Consumer Credit Act 1974
Don’t forget that if the garage repair/service or new car cost more than £100 (and less than £30,000) and you paid by credit card, you could claim against your card provider using Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act 1974.
You can do this at the same time as you are negotiating with a garage or car dealer but you can only get paid by one.
To Escalate A Complaint
If you have been unable to rectify a fault with a brand new car to your satisfaction, you should contact The Motor Ombudsman. It is highly likely that they will be able to help here as almost all manufacturers are signed up to their Code. Please allow 7-10 working days for their response.
If you have been unable to rectify a garage services complaint (re car servicing or repairs) to your satisfaction, look for Trade Association memberships and contact that body. The main ones are The Motor Ombudsman, Trust My Garage and/or Bosch Car Service.
If you are unhappy with a used car warranty claim, you can contact The Motor Ombudsman to check that the warranty provider is a member of their warranty scheme. Please allow 7-10 working days for their response. Even if the warranty scheme is not part of this scheme, you can still ask them for advice.
If your situation is EITHER different from the above scenarios OR The Motor Ombudsman is unable to help you, PLEASE speak to Citizens Advice.
KEEP COMPLAINING – don’t let bad businesses get away with this sort of behaviour or they’ll carry on doing this for others.
If, having gone through all this and still reached a total impasse, please let FOXY know the details by emailing Steph Savill.
If nothing else, and where the situation seems clear cut to us, we may be able to share this experience within The Club, thus adding an extra negotiating nudge that often does the business!
We’ve had some spectacular wins for motorists here but sadly we’ve also had to issue some well earned Red Cards to really bad businesses as well.
NB: Clearly we support Club members as a matter of priority in these circumstances. They can ask our legal partner, Stormcatcher Law for advice which is free for starters. In the case of needing to take a complex claim to court, they’ll do the work for members at discounted rates. AND we’ll share the story among members where need be…