The consumer’s issue:
“I purchased a ‘16-plate saloon from a dealership in March 2018. At the time of buying the car, it still had around a year and a half left of its three-year manufacturer’s warranty. Soon after I took delivery, I noticed both the driver’s and passenger’s seat bases had movement in them. This could be felt when braking, accelerating, or when adjusting the position, and I found this to be both uncomfortable and unsafe.
I’ve taken the vehicle to an approved dealership multiple times, but they haven’t been able to repair this issue, and have said it’s a characteristic of the car. I complained to the manufacturer, but they said that there was no ‘fix’ available for this.
I don’t believe a thorough review has been carried out to understand what is causing this problem. The car is still under the manufacturer’s warranty and I would therefore like the manufacturer to authorise further investigations and repairs under the warranty at no cost to myself.”
The accredited business’ response:
- The consumer contacted us regarding an issue they felt they had with the driver and passenger seats.
- The customer had the problem investigated by one of our approved dealerships, but they were unable to find a fault.
- Our approved dealership confirmed they had road-tested similar comparable cars, and the seats functioned in the same manner.
- The issue which the customer was complaining about is simply a characteristic of this vehicle and there is no fix for it.
- The consumer remained unhappy with the approved dealership’s diagnosis, and therefore we’ve advised them to return the car to the seller or to another approved dealership for a second opinion and peace of mind.
- However, the customer refused to do this, so we’re unable to assist them further under the terms of the warranty.
The adjudication outcome:
- The Motor Ombudsman adjudicator didn’t think there was any evidence to suggest the movement being complained about was a manufacturing defect.
- She said the consumer had been advised by both the manufacturer and the approved dealership to have the issue investigated by an alternative business and / or engineer for a second opinion, but the consumer had refused to do this.
- Therefore, the adjudicator didn’t believe the manufacturer had breached the Code of Practice for New Cars and could not uphold the complaint in the customer’s favour.
- The consumer remained unhappy with the adjudicator’s assessment and asked for an ombudsman’s final decision.
The ombudsman’s final decision:
- The ombudsman reviewed the complaint and agreed with the adjudicator’s findings.
- She empathised with the consumer; however, she said a manufacturer was only responsible for covering the cost of investigation and repairs where a manufacturing defect has been proven.
- The ombudsman said the manufacturer-approved dealership had investigated the consumer’s concerns several times, but they hadn’t been able to find a defect.
- She explained that the approved dealership had found other comparable models to be performing in the same manner, therefore implying this movement was a characteristic of the car rather than a fault.
- She went on to state that it wasn’t unreasonable for the manufacturer to rely on their approved dealership’s findings, and they were under no obligation to approve further investigation or repairs where a fault hasn’t been confirmed.
- The ombudsman emphasised that just because something is a characteristic of a car, this didn’t automatically mean that it can’t also be a fault.
- However, she said she couldn’t comment on the extent of the movement and whether the average reasonable person would deem the movement to be a defect, as there was no independent technical evidence on file.
- The ombudsman highlighted that the approved dealership hadn’t sold the car and therefore had no further obligations towards the consumer.
- She also explained the manufacturer had recommended that the consumer take the car back to the selling dealership or an alternative franchised dealer for a second opinion, but the consumer had refused to do this.
- Therefore, the ombudsman concluded that the manufacturer had done all that they could to assist the consumer on this occasion, and it was the consumer that had failed to seek a second opinion on whether a fault existed.
- As a result, based on the evidence provided, she didn’t uphold the complaint in the consumer’s favour.
- Neither party responded to the ombudsman’s final decision, and the case was closed.