The consumer’s issue:
“On the drive home from the dealership, my brand new car felt very jerky, but I presumed I was not used to it yet. By the time I had driven the first 75 miles, I realised that it was not because of my driving style, but it was due to an issue with the vehicle itself.
I called the seller, and we agreed that I would take it to a sister site within the franchise dealer network that was closer to home. They proceeded to check the car over and stated it was a known fault and I needed a software update which we needed to wait for.
In the months whilst we awaited the update, I noticed that there were other problems with the car, which I felt were related to it being jerky. I therefore decided that the car was unsafe and called the dealer saying I wanted to return it.
The seller then asked for the car to be brought in for the software update, but the problem was still not resolved after driving it. I subsequently informed my local dealer, and they agreed that the issue was still present.
The selling dealer asked me to take the car to my local dealership so they could compare it with a like-for-like model. They stated that all equivalent cars behaved in the same way, but just because this may be the case, it doesn’t make it safe to drive. I think the car is dangerous and I want to reject the car and get my money back.”
The accredited business’ response:
- As the car is at another dealer in the network, we have not been part of the process to repair the fault, thereby making it very difficult for us to comment. We have however, raised the complaint with the manufacturer.
- The vehicle manufacturer will making be contacting the consumer directly to discuss their complaint, and we believe that the customer’s local dealer has been involved in the diagnostics and will work with manufacturer to help find a solution.
The adjudication outcome:
- The Motor Ombudsman adjudicator contacted both the repairer to understand what next steps were being taken, and the consumer to understand the course of action.
- The customer confirmed that they did not wish to take the car back for further assessment, and requested that The Motor Ombudsman considered their case in order to determine if a right to reject existed.
- The adjudicator noted that the Vehicle Sales Code relies on the Consumer Rights Act 2015 (CRA) for its definitions as to what constitutes a breach of contract. Therefore, if the vehicle suffers from an issue when pulling away, that is not present in other like-for-like vehicles, there may be a breach of the contract and the Vehicle Sales Code.
- The adjudicator considered there to be an issue with the customer’s car, because otherwise, the repairing branch would not have been in contact with the manufacturer to look for a remedy if it occurred with all other equivalent models.
- It was equally noted that, simply because an issue is present across the whole model range (i.e. it’s a characteristic), this does not mean that the car is deemed to be of satisfactory quality, meaning a breach of the Code still exists.
- The Motor Ombudsman adjudicator commented that, if a business surrenders their right to inspect and repair the goods themselves, on receipt of a complaint regarding the quality of the vehicle (which an e-mail between the consumer and the business supported), then they are effectively waiving their right to repair the vehicle themselves, and are in effect outsourcing that work to another business in the manufacturer’s network.
- Such a repair was undertaken, and failed to correct the issue, so it was determined that the right to a repair under the Code had been spent, meaning a further remedy would need to be considered i.e. either a partial refund which is proportional to the inconvenience of the issue, or a rejection of the car.
- The adjudicator concluded that, as the issue relates to the control of the vehicle, the option for a partial reduction in the cost of the car would not be appropriate.
- Therefore, rejection of the vehicle by the customer was considered to be the most suitable remedy based on the facts of the case.
- The parties agreed with The Motor Ombudsman’s adjudication outcome and the appropriate arrangements were made for the rejection of the vehicle.