The consumer’s issue:
“I bought a used ‘13-plate SUV from a dealership in July 2016. At the time, there was a fault with the top right-hand corner of the driver’s seat. The back was coming away from the frame, so the dealership carried out a repair and I proceeded with the purchase. But despite the rectification work, the problem resurfaced, and I simply kept pushing it back into place. It would stay in situ for days and weeks at a time, but in June 2018, the whole of the driver’s seat back fell off.
I returned to the seller to see if this would be covered under the manufacturer’s warranty. The dealership submitted two warranty claims, but I was then told the repair wouldn’t be covered under the agreement, and that I’d somehow caused the damage. But I don’t agree. This was faulty at the time I purchased the car and the dealership tried to rectify it – it’s just that the repair has come apart. I’m the only one that uses the car, and I didn’t cause the damage. I am therefore looking for the dealership to repair this at their own cost.”
The accredited business’ response:
- The consumer purchased the car from us in July 2016, and in June 2018, she returned to us stating that the rear of the driver’s seat had fallen off.
- On inspection, it was apparent that the seat had been subject to outside influences that had caused the back to separate.
- We explained to the customer that this wouldn’t be covered under the warranty.
- We also think it’s highly unlikely that, after a period of two years, the seat would become fully detached without some form of external intervention.
The adjudication outcome:
- The Motor Ombudsman adjudicator reviewed the consumer’s complaint and upheld it.
- She said the fault had been present when the car was purchased, and it was more likely than not that the current issue with the seat was linked to that which had been identified at the time of the consumer buying the car.
- She said the dealership had attempted to carry out a repair, but it was clear that this hadn’t been successful, and the complete back of the driver’s seat had detached. So, it was unlikely that the business had completed the repair to a satisfactory standard.
- The adjudicator therefore recommended that the dealership carry out a repair, but they didn’t respond to this outcome, so the case was escalated for an ombudsman’s final decision.
The ombudsman’s final decision:
- The ombudsman reviewed the complaint and agreed with the adjudicator’s conclusions.
- She said the law, amongst other things, states that a car should be of satisfactory quality when sold and, if it isn’t, then the supplying business must put things right.
- She said the dealership hadn’t disputed that a fault existed with the back of the driver’s seat when they sold the vehicle.
- The ombudsman equally noted that the dealership hadn’t disputed that a repair was carried out, and also hadn’t supplied any evidence of their initial repair and what may have caused the fault with the seat. In addition, they had not commented on the consumer’s testimony that two warranty claims had been submitted.
- The ombudsman said the dealership had concluded that the issue with the seat was the result of an external influence, only due to the time that had passed between the initial repair and the fault being reported again.
- However, there was no evidence from the business to show that there had been any damage to the back of the seat, which would support their argument of external influence being the cause of the present fault.
- She also said the fault appeared to be identical to the one present at the time of sale, and it was unlikely that warranty claims would have been submitted if the dealership had genuinely thought that the fault was a result of the consumer’s actions.
- The ombudsman went on to say that, based on the information provided, it was more likely than not that the fault with the driver’s seat was the same as that which had been present when the car was sold and, that the repair attempted had, over time, come undone.
- As a result, she upheld the complaint in the consumer’s favour and directed the dealership to carry out a full repair at no cost to the customer.
- The consumer accepted the ombudsman’s final decision and the business was asked to repair the car free of charge.