Misleading recall notification

The consumer’s issue:

“I purchased a used 63-plate luxury SUV in June 2018, and in February 2020, I was notified about a recall, so I took my car to the dealership to have the rectification work carried out. Following that recall, I was advised that my SUV would be subject to another recall, and the business would be in touch about this at a later date.

I contacted the dealership for an update as I had not heard anything, and I was advised by the receptionist that my car did not have any outstanding recalls. Based on this information, I felt I had no choice but to take the vehicle to another dealership to have it repaired, which I did at my own cost.

Following this, I received a telephone call from the first dealership advising me that they were ready for my car to go into them for the recall work to be done. By this point, it was too late. I had already paid privately for the repair at a third-party dealership, which included the cost of a part, service and a diagnostic charge.

The dealership refunded the cost of the part to the third party, which I wasn’t told about, but I am still looking for the service and diagnostic charge to be covered – equating to around £350.”

The accredited business’ response:

  • We can confirm that, unfortunately, the recall had not been booked in for the customer when it was first raised with us. Both we and the manufacturer apologised directly to the consumer for this mistake.
  • We are also able to confirm that the recall work had been carried out by the third-party dealership, and we had covered the cost of the part by sending the funds directly to that business. Unfortunately, we have no influence over whether this money is passed on to the customer, and we would recommend that they contact the third party directly for the purposes of reimbursement.
  • With regards to the diagnostic and the service, this would have been required irrespective of what had occurred with the recall of the vehicle.
  • Therefore, based on the above, we would not look to support a goodwill offer of a service, but we would like to offer the customer a complimentary MOT, to be booked in at their convenience.

The adjudication outcome:

  • The Motor Ombudsman adjudicator said that the burden of proof was on the consumer to show, on the basis that it was more likely than not, that the dealership conveyed a communication which was likely to have misled them or be misunderstood.
  • The adjudicator considered the evidence and representations on both sides. They noted that the business had not disputed that their receptionist had misinformed the customer about whether there was recall work due. Considering this point, the adjudicator upheld that there had been a breach of the Service and Repair Code.
  • The adjudicator then considered what award would be proportionate and reasonable in the circumstances. The adjudicator pointed out that the consumer had not submitted an invoice for the costs that they had incurred. The dealership also said that the diagnostic and service costs were not related to the recall.
  •  Therefore, a financial award could not be issued without evidence of the loss suffered.
  • In addition, the business pointed out that they had paid a refund for the part which would have been required by the third-party dealership. They said that it would now be up to the consumer to recover that cost from the business that had repaired the vehicle.
  • The adjudicator considered whether an apology would be appropriate, and the evidence showed that the dealership had already apologised for their mistake. The adjudicator therefore did not recommend a further apology, as they did not consider it would be proportionate for them to acknowledge the same mistake for the second time.
  • The adjudicator recommended that the consumer accept the dealership’s goodwill gesture of a free MOT, as such an offer was made at the discretion of the business, and they were not legally obliged to do this.


  • The dealership accepted the adjudicator’s outcome. The consumer however, did not provide any further response, and the case was closed.