The consumer’s issue:
“We purchased an extended warranty from the provider to cover our motorhome for mechanical and electrical breakdowns. The business was not able to find a garage within their network to complete a vehicle health check (VHC), so this requirement was waived as part of getting the policy. The warranty provider then asked us to have the vehicle serviced, and again, they couldn’t find a garage within their network to carry out the service. As a result, we asked to cancel the warranty, as it was clear the business would not be able to cover our motorhome and therefore should not have sold us this agreement. It clearly isn’t suitable for us and we’d like a refund for the money we paid for it.”
The accredited business’ response:
- We acknowledged that we had not been able to find a garage within our network that was close to the consumer, and that was able to carry out a service and vehicle health check of the customer’s motorhome.
- We explained to the consumer that the vehicle was a motorhome and was purchased to tour around the country. We have an extensive network of workshops and were confident that, in most locations, we would be able to source a workshop to cater for large heavy vehicles.
- We stated that, if a repair was required, they could have collected and delivered the vehicle to ensure that it was looked into by an appropriate garage.
- We were happy to refund the money for the service costing £199, as this hadn’t been carried out. We also ended the warranty following the consumer’s request and waived the cancellation fee.
The adjudication outcome:
- The Motor Ombudsman adjudicator noted that the business had asked the consumer to have the vehicle serviced when a service wasn’t due.
- He noted there was no explanation for this, but acknowledged the prepayment for the service had been refunded.
- He also said the business should also cover the cost of petrol used to drive the car to the business’ chosen garage to have a vehicle health check, as this was never completed.
- The adjudicator equally explained that there were no grounds to award a refund of the warranty cost, as the business had confirmed that, should a repair have been required, they would have been able to accommodate the consumer as per the terms and conditions of the warranty.
The ombudsman’s final decision
- The ombudsman agreed with the adjudicator’s findings.
- She said the business had found it difficult to find a garage local to the consumer that would have been able to complete the vehicle health check on a motorhome.
- As a result, this requirement was waived and the warranty set up.
- She said that, had the motorhome required repairs for a defect, this would have been picked up during the check.
- This meant that the business would have been required to cover repairs, and the lack of having this check completed did not disadvantage the consumer.
- The ombudsman also said there was no evidence to support the argument that the business wouldn’t have been able to meet the terms and conditions of the warranty had the vehicle required repairs.
- In addition, the business confirmed that the vehicle could have been collected and taken to an appropriate garage if work to the motorhome had been required.
- She noted that, although using a garage within the business’ network was desirable, the terms and conditions of the warranty also allowed for the vehicle to be taken to a garage of the consumer’s choosing and repairs would have been covered if a successful claim under the warranty was made.
- The ombudsman made it clear that, if the warranty was deemed unsuitable, it must be cancelled within the first 14 days of purchase and that the warranty was non-refundable if cancelled after the cooling off period.
- Therefore, the ombudsman did not think that it was fair or reasonable to refund the cost of the warranty policy.