The consumer’s issue:
“I ordered a car from a dealership in December 2019. It was an ex-demonstrator vehicle and I was told that it had 2,500 miles on the clock. However, when I collected it, I found that it had actually covered 3,990 miles, equating to an extra 1,490 than that which was advertised.
I was very upset about this, and felt I’d been misguided. I also think I was forced into buying optional products, such as a cosmetic warranty, GAP insurance and tyre insurance, which have all increased my monthly finance payment. I was told I was required to get these, so my finance was approved. This didn’t sound right, but as I’d already agreed to the products, and it was getting late, I didn’t want to argue.
I’m really unhappy about what’s happened and I’m looking for £2,000 in compensation, as the extra mileage has put me at a significant loss, and I think I’ve been mis-sold the car, as well as the optional extras.”
The accredited business’ response:
- We accept that we advertised the car with the incorrect mileage, and that there was an error on our part.
- However, we don’t deem the difference in value to be £2,000, and are not willing to pay this.
- Based on the valuation guide we use, had we advertised it with the correct mileage, it would’ve meant a £25 difference between what the consumer paid and what they should have been quoted.
- We also don’t accept that we mis-sold any of the products purchased by the consumer.
- We originally offered the customer £250 and a free service, and increased this to £500, but both offers were rejected.
- We are still willing to make a goodwill payment of £50 in recognition of the mileage difference.
The adjudication outcome:
- Whilst the adjudicator felt the business should have taken greater care in their documentation and advertising, the consumer was not obliged to purchase the car and was given sufficient opportunities to be able to question the mileage before the sale was made.
- As a result, the adjudicator did not believe the business should be penalised for the consumer’s lack of attention to the documents at the time of sale.
- With regards to the customer stating they were told they had to take out the additional services for the finance to be agreed, evidence would need to be provided that this was the case. Without this, the adjudicator was unable to uphold this aspect of the dispute.
- The complaint was therefore not upheld in the consumer’s favour and recommended that the customer accepted the goodwill gesture of £50.
- The consumer remained unhappy, as they deemed the loss to be much greater than £50, and the accredited business had previously offered more than this amount, so the case was referred to the ombudsman for a final decision.
The ombudsman’s final decision:
- The ombudsman agreed that there was a mistake with the mileage on the original advert.
- This had been admitted, and an appropriate amount of compensation had been offered to the consumer with regards to the difference in value.
- The ombudsman did not agree with the customer’s figure of £2,000, as it did not seem reasonable or based on fact. This is because, an additional 1,400 miles does not cause a car to depreciate by £2,000, and the business had supplied records of the car’s valuation and the price difference between 2,500 miles and 3,900 miles, showing that they were correct in saying it was about £25.
- The business had made several offers to the consumer to settle the dispute, but all were rejected;
- The ombudsman remarked that businesses are not expected to honour every offer previously made once they are rejected, and were within their rights to retract their earlier offers.
- As such, the ombudsman could not ask them to increase their proposal of £50, as it more than compensated the consumer for their actual financial losses;
- With respect to the allegation of the consumer being forced to take other products, the ombudsman was not persuaded that the business had done anything wrong, as there was no evidence to support the allegation.
- It had also not been raised in any prior correspondence or complaint with the business. Additionally, the ombudsman did not think that a person would accept a financial commitment which they felt uncomfortable with, simply because they were running late.
- The ombudsman therefore did not uphold the customer’s complaint, and agreed that the offer of £50 was fair in the circumstances.
- The consumer rejected the ombudsman’s final decision, so the case was closed.