The consumer’s issue:
“I bought a brand new luxury coupé from a dealership in August 2017, and in December 2018, I took the car to my local franchise dealer, as the headlamps were staying on for a prolonged period after switching off the ignition and locking the doors. The car stayed with the business for a week, but they could not find the cause of the problem. They asked me to return the car in the new year when a case would be opened with the manufacturer for technical support.
As planned, I took the vehicle back to the dealership in February 2019, and after having it for three weeks, they explained that they were still unable to find out why the issue was happening, but said that the fault would be repaired under warranty, and I would have a loan car until the problem had been rectified.
In March 2019, I contacted the vehicle manufacturer to raise a complaint about how long the dealership had taken to repair my car, and that they had not kept me suitably informed. The manufacturer explained that they were working with the business to resolve the problem, and again stated that it would be covered under the warranty.
At the beginning of May 2019, the dealership confirmed that the repair had been done, and that the issue was a damaged radar module. However, I was also told that the repair to this part would not be covered under the warranty, and I would have to pay £7,924. I disputed this charge with the manufacturer, as it was previously stated the work would be covered by the warranty, and I did not consent to any repairs being carried out that I would be liable for paying. In fact, I only agreed for the car to be worked on under the terms of the warranty.
I ended up having a face-to-face meeting with the dealership manager, and they explained that, until the cost of £7,924 was paid, the car would not be released to me. I reluctantly offered to pay £800, which was accepted, and the car was released to me in June.
When I collected the vehicle, it was raining, so I could not inspect it properly, but it became apparent that the windscreen wipers were not aligned, so the car was immediately taken back to sort out the issue. The following day, I took another look at the car, and found that there were scratches on the bumper, which were not there when the vehicle was taken to the business. The dealership collected the car and repaired it in July, but the crack had not been repaired, and the vehicle was returned to have the remedial work done.
To resolve this dispute, I am looking for a refund of the £800 I paid to release my car, compensation for the loss in lease car payments (i.e. £2,617 over four months), a refund of my car insurance for four months (totaling £270), and a contribution towards the cost of servicing my vehicle, as it had only been available to me for four months out of twelve.”
The accredited business’ response:
- The customer agreed for the issue to be investigated when the dealership believed that the repairs would be covered under warranty.
- The battery was initially replaced, but upon further investigation, it was concluded that a new radar sensor was required.
- When removing the front bumper, it was found that the car had front-end damage, which invalidated the warranty cover.
- Once it became apparent that the repairs could not be covered under warranty, the dealership failed to get the authorisation to carry them out, as it was assumed that the seller would pay for these costs, as the customer believed that the damage was not there beforehand. However, the selling dealership explained that there were no faults with the vehicle when it was sold and would not cover the cost of the repairs.
- It was clear that the vehicle had been involved in a front-end collision since buying it, which resulted in the faulty radar sensor control unit and the invalidation of the warranty of the parts that had been repaired.
- As a gesture of goodwill, the repairing dealership reduced the repair bill from £7,924 to £800, including parts, labour and VAT.
- The minor damage to the car that the customer claimed happened when at the business, was repaired, and the vehicle was of a satisfactory quality when it was returned.
- In terms of the remedies that the consumer is looking for, we are not able to refund the £800, as the repair bill has already been reduced significantly.
- For the loss of lease car payments (£2,617) and insurance payments (£270), we are not prepared to reimburse the customer, as they were kept mobile the whole time.
- The damage to the bumper was repaired, and we are also not willing to contribute towards the cost of the service in August 2019.
The adjudication outcome:
- After reviewing the evidence provided, the adjudicator noted that no authorisation was sought or received by the repairing dealership to carry out the repairs at the consumer’s expense. The customer also understood that the work would be covered by the new car warranty, or by the seller.
- Therefore, whilst The Motor Ombudsman was sympathetic to the fact that the dealership had absorbed a significant proportion of the cost to rectify the consumer’s issue, the adjudicator believed that the dealership did not have any grounds for which to ask the customer to make a contribution of £800, and ruled that this amount should be refunded.
- With regards to the lease payments, these were not considered to be an unavoidable consequence of the Code breach, and therefore no further action was taken regarding this.
- All parties agreed with the adjudication outcome, and the case was closed.