The consumer’s issue:
“I purchased a 17-plate hatchback from a dealership in March 2017 under the Motability Scheme. I made it clear to them that I required a hand adaptation device to be added to the car. I have used this hand adaptation for 14 years and am very particular about it, as its features make it easy to use and make driving in the dark much easier than other similar devices. The business assured us the this would be fitted to the vehicle and they placed the order. I paid the dealership £1,200 for this additional extra.
However, when I collected the car, I noticed the wrong hand adaptation had been installed. I am therefore looking for the dealership to either fit the correct hand adaptation, or refund the money I paid, so I can buy it again and have it installed elsewhere.”
The accredited business’ response:
- We’ve investigated the consumer’s complaint and confirmed that the hand adaptation requested was supplied by a third-party business.
- The customer spoke directly with the supplying business and agreed on the product that was to be fitted.
- No other devices were discussed with the consumer, and the one installed was the only one available at the time, of which the consumer ought to have been aware.
- We don’t believe we’re responsible for this and believe the consumer should take this issue up with the supplier of the hand adaptation device.
The adjudication outcome:
- The Motor Ombudsman adjudicator reviewed the complaint, but didn’t uphold it in the consumer’s favour.
- This is because, he said that the information on file didn’t support the customer’s version of events and that the dealership had only fitted the modified handheld device, not ordered it.
- Therefore, they weren’t responsible, and the customer should take the complaint up with the business that supplied part.
- The consumer disagreed with the adjudication outcome and asked for an ombudsman’s final decision.
The ombudsman’s final decision:
- The ombudsman reviewed the complaint and, contrary to the adjudicator, upheld it in the consumer’s favour.
- She said the dealership hadn’t been able to supply a copy of a call recording which they’d relied on as evidence, showing that the consumer had ordered the hand adaptation themselves.
- The dealership also hadn’t been able to provide documentation to show that the hand adaptation fitted to the car was the only one available at the time.
- The ombudsman noted there was a worksheet addressed to the dealership from the supplier showing instructions to fit the hand adaptation.
- There was also an estimate addressed to the dealership showing how much the supplying business charged to provide and install the device.
- The ombudsman also noted that, upon request, the consumer was able to provide e-mail evidence from the dealership showing that the business had enquired about the availability of the hand adaptation device and were also responsible for placing the order.
- The ombudsman acknowledged that none of the correspondence referred to the manufacturer of the device or the product catalogue number. However, she said that the consumer had been using the same hand adaptation for over 14 years, so it was highly unlikely that they would have asked the dealership to order the wrong one.
- Therefore, she said that, on balance, it was more likely than not that the consumer had specified the hand adaptation they wanted, but the dealership had gone on to arrange the purchase and fitting of an alternative device. As a result, the ombudsman upheld the complaint.
- However, due to the time that had passed since the purchase and the device being fitted, the ombudsman didn’t think it was reasonable to have the device removed.
- She said the consumer, over their length of ownership, would have learned to use the device albeit not out of choice.
- She accepted, though, that the dealership had supplied a product that wasn’t as described, and that the consumer had been severely inconvenienced by this. So, she said in acknowledgement of this, the dealership should provide a refund of £700 in the form of a price reduction.
- Both parties agreed with the final decision and the consumer was reimbursed £700 in line with the ombudsman’s award.