The consumer’s issue:
“Before buying the car, I asked the seller why 16-inch wheels are fitted as standard on the model I bought, and I was told that this was for a smoother ride. I felt that this was inaccurate, and gave the business several examples from car review websites to reinforce this.
I feel every bump, even small bumps, on the road. My previous two purchases of the same type of car were more comfortable, and these had 15-inch wheels. There is a lack of suspension refinement on normal roads, and the ride can be harsh and noisy. I have been into the dealership three times, initially to ask for a check on the turning circle, and was told that the ride was probably due to the larger wheels. On another occasion, I pointed out the turning circle again, and was that told it was due to the hybrid engine.
Then, when I went for a service, I asked the staff questions and they were unaware that the car was not exempt from the London Congestion Charge, and did not realise the turning circle was markedly larger. Before my purchase, I did not specifically ask about the London Congestion Charge exemption and the turning circle, as these were straightforward statements on their blog, which turned out to be errors. One was corrected by the manufacturer, but the other one still stands not corrected. I did not think that these statements could be false, which is why I did not specifically query the exemption from the London Congestion Charge, the claimed mpg and the turning circle. I am therefore looking for a payment of £2,500 in light of these issues.”
The accredited business’ response:
- We asked the dealership to review the customer’s concerns, and to provide us with feedback on the pre-sales discussions. The business advised us that the car’s fuel consumption, turning circle and Congestion Charge exemption were not subjects that were raised by the consumer.
- Concerning the minimum turning circle radius, the customer’s 2014 model with 15-inch wheels had a 4.8-metre minimum turning radius. The 2016 equivalent was available with a 4.8-metre minimum turning radius, but because the customer selected a different grade with 16-inch wheels, the tyre minimum turning radius increases to 5.5 metres.
- The article on our blog mentioned by the customer was published on 06 August 2015. The customer ordered his vehicle on 08 March 2016, and so we believe it would be reasonable for any specification of particular importance, such as the Congestion Charge exemption, to be discussed during the sales process in order to confirm that there had been no changes to the information since it was published.
- We also feel that it would be unusual for a consumer to solely rely on one source of information before purchasing a new vehicle (the relevant blog article has since been removed).
- Unfortunately, we are unable to change the wheels on the customer’s vehicle because the homologated specification for his car is 16-inch wheels. If the wheels were to be changed, the vehicle would be outside of the official manufacturer’s specification.
- As a longstanding and valued customer, we are sorry that he feels dissatisfied with his current vehicle and apologise for the disappointment caused by the article on our blog.
- Whilst we were unable to accept the consumer’s request for a payment of £2500.00, we have offered a £200 shopping voucher as a gesture of goodwill.
The adjudication outcome:
- The Motor Ombudsman adjudicator believed the offer of a £200 voucher was a fair resolution, due to the fact that, if the business changed the wheels, this would have consequently put the vehicle outside of the manufacturer’s specification.
- In addition, manufactures can only repair broken mechanical components that have build defects.
- Both parties accepted the decision from the adjudicator and the case is now closed