Mis-sold 4×4

The consumer’s issue:

I visited the dealership looking for a seven-seater car, and the salesman recommended that we bought the manager’s six-month-old used 4×4 to pay off the negative equity in our previous vehicle. After looking around it, we agreed to buy it, and the salesman also said that I could come back a year later to purchase a brand new car because our negativity equity would be paid off by then.

One year passed, and the salesman arranged for me to purchase a new ’18-registration car in March 2018 on finance. I was happy with our current model, but I was told that the new car was a good deal and was the best way forward. I went through the requirements for the vehicle, and the salesman knew that I needed four-wheel-drive and seven seats. After being on site for quite some time, the salesman came back to me to see if I wanted a non-four-wheel-drive variant to make the finance payments cheaper, but I refused this offer.

 The delivery of the new car was delayed by three months, and I was still paying the previous finance agreement, which I was concerned about because of the pending settlement figure. When I ordered the new model, I also made the salesman aware about paying the existing finance plan, and he said that any payments would be deducted from the new agreement.

 When I came to the showroom to collect the car, it was snowing heavily, and I joked that it was fortunate that I was glad that I’d ordered a 4×4. Also, I didn’t change the collection day, as there would be no problems getting through the snow. However, when driving away from the forecourt (which I wouldn’t have done if I had known it wasn’t four-wheel-drive), it didn’t perform well in the snow.  

 I called the salesman, but he assured me the car was four-wheel-drive, and I didn’t think anything more of it. A year later, I went back to the showroom as I no longer needed a 4×4 due to my son now being able to drive, and it is then that I found out that the car was wasn’t four-wheel drive. I therefore feel lied to throughout the whole experience, and I spoke to the manager of the dealership (the salesman had left the business), and he apologised and kindly offered to help out. Nevertheless, I would like the dealership to supply a four-wheel-drive vehicle that I thought I was buying originally.”

The accredited business’ response:

  • We have investigated the consumer’s complaint, and cannot find any evidence that the customer was supplied with the wrong vehicle.
  • The customer purchased and paid for a non-four-wheel-drive variant, and we cannot see any information or an order form that a four-wheel-drive model was ever specified or quoted for.
  • Regarding the three-month delay, this was at the request of the consumer, as they wanted an ’18-plate instead of a ’67-plate.
  • The customer also claimed that they were unaware of the lump sum at the end of the finance agreement, but they stated in their letter of complaint that they had a PCP.
  • We therefore do not accept that we are liable to offer the customer a replacement vehicle in these circumstances.

The adjudication outcome:

  • The Motor Ombudsman adjudicator reviewed the evidence, and unfortunately, the documentation provided by both parties sheds no light into the pre-sale discussions that took place between the consumer and the business when this sale was being negotiated.
  • Therefore, while there was no reason to question the consumer’s recollections of their discussions with the dealership prior to placing the order, the facts of the case showed that it was unlikely that mis-selling had occurred, or that the customer was told, or given the reasonable impression that the car they were buying was four-wheel-drive.
  • As a result, the adjudicator was unable to uphold the complaint in the consumer’s favour.


  • As the consumer did not respond to the adjudication, the case was closed.