The consumer’s issue:
“I bought a brand-new electric SUV from a dealership in December 2020, believing I would be able to use the parking assistance feature that was advertised as being standard on my car. However, when the vehicle was delivered, the function had been disabled, even though the physical buttons to activate it were present.
I contacted the dealership to ask about this, and was told that the system had been deactivated to comply with changes to EU legislation – I was never informed about this before the car was supplied to me.
The business offered me a £67 partial refund in light of this issue, but I do not believe this is adequate, so I turned this down. To resolve my complaint, I am looking for the parking assistance function to be activated, and to receive compensation in recognition of the distress and inconvenience I’ve endured as a result of this matter.”
The accredited business’ response:
- We as the retail group believe that staff at our dealership could and should have the informed the customer as soon as they had become aware that the vehicle was going to arrive with the parking assistance feature disabled.
- Nevertheless, it would not have changed the outcome of this matter, as the decision to deactivate the system was carried out in order to comply with UN/ECE R79 Regulations, which was completely outside of the dealership’s control.
- Therefore, we feel that the apology and offer made of £67 made to the consumer by our dealership – the cost price of the function, represents a fair and reasonable resolution to their complaint and, as such, we do not believe that any further award is due.
The adjudication outcome:
- The Motor Ombudsman adjudicator explained that the consumer had the evidential burden of demonstrating that the dealership had failed to uphold their obligations.
- They also said that there was no indication that the parking assistance feature should have been locked behind any premium packages and the consumer, unless stated otherwise, should have had access to this feature – there was no dispute between the parties on this point.
- The adjudicator noted that the response by the business indicated that the information about the deactivated feature was not relayed to the consumer at the time of purchase.
- The adjudicator also agreed with the dealership’s explanation of the terms of sale i.e. that the manufacturer was entitled to make any alterations to the vehicle and its feature set in order for the product to meet any regulation they would be required to uphold.
- Therefore, the adjudicator explained that the manufacturer was within their right to disable the parking assistance function.
- The adjudicator concluded that, while the consumer did not need to have the legal explanation as to why the system was disabled, the customer should still have been informed during the sales process about this. As a result, the business had failed to meet their obligations, meaning the customer’s complaint was upheld in their favour.
- The adjudicator explained that The Motor Ombudsman does not award compensation for non-financial losses such as, distress, inconvenience, trouble and upset, but was satisfied that the £67 part refund proposed by the dealership in recognition of the feature’s loss was a proportionate resolution in the circumstances.
- While the business responded, and agreed to pay the consumer the sum of £67, the customer did not make contact with The Motor Ombudsman within the required timeframe, and the case was closed.