The consumer’s issue:
“I bought a used car in August 2017. I believe I have been treated very badly by the accredited business and their head office. I have had multiple issues with the sales process, and I was pushed into taking the vehicle before I could really make a decision. I haven’t received my paint treatment that I paid for, and I also haven’t been sent the vehicle’s service and MOT history. Additionally, a few days after the sale, my circumstances changed, but when I tried to exercise my 14-day right to withdraw, I was told that I couldn’t. I would therefore like to give the vehicle back and withdraw from the agreement.”
The accredited business’ response:
- The finance documents were signed to show that the details were correct and that the consumer’s demands and needs were also assessed.
- The customer was given the correct information at the point of sale and confirmed that the monthly payment was affordable.
- The right of withdrawal in the finance contract does not affect the consumer’s legal agreement with us, and therefore we rejected their request.
The adjudication outcome:
- The Motor Ombudsman adjudicator could find no evidence of mis-selling, either of the vehicle or the finance agreement.
- He explained that whilst there is a 14-day cooling off period for finance agreements, a separate contract was entered into with the accredited business, and the only way the consumer could give back the car was if it was faulty or she had been given incorrect information about it.
- As such, he could not uphold that she was entitled to hand it back.
- The consumer argued that the car had been mis-sold, as she wasn’t given the service and MOT history, and that she was unaware of any separate agreement with the accredited business, so asked for the case to be reviewed by the ombudsman for a final decision.
- She was also unhappy with the accredited business’ complaints process and felt this had been a breach of The Motor Ombudsman’s Vehicle Sales Code.
The ombudsman’s final decision:
- The ombudsman considered that the main issue here was the finance and whether she could withdraw from the agreement – the issue around the service history was not deemed to be valid, as the consumer specifically mentioned that service history wasn’t discussed at the point of sale, and the failure to apply the paint treatment – if this was true – was not, on its own, a reason to reject the car.
- Looking at the documents, the consumer had taken out a fixed sum loan and had signed multiple documents to say she was aware of this.
- Unlike other finance agreements, a fixed sum loan means that the consumer was the legal owner of the vehicle as soon as she purchased it.
- As such, to withdraw from the finance, she would have had to pay off the loan in full to the finance company and would still have been in possession of the vehicle – so would have had to find another way to pay for it.
- In these circumstances, the accredited business was correct to say she was unable to withdraw from the purchase of the vehicle in its entirety, and the ombudsman could therefore see no justification for enforcing that the accredited business take back the vehicle.
- With regards to the accredited business’ complaint process, the ombudsman thought that the consumer’s issue could have been handled better. The explanation given for declining her complaint was incomplete and communication seemed to be very reactive, rather than proactively updating the consumer.
- However, with all things considered, the ombudsman could not award that the consumer was able to return her vehicle as the evidence demonstrated that it was sold appropriately.
- The ombudsman made no award to the consumer, but made recommendations to improve the accredited business’ complaint-handling processes in future.