The consumer’s issue:
“I bought a brand new ’18-plate supermini in July 2018. At the time of purchase, I asked the dealership the cost of the cheapest new model they had, and they told me about this car. They said this model was normally sold for £14,250, but they had an offer on, and I could buy it for £10,298. I proceeded with the purchase because the car met my requirements. However, shortly afterwards, I noticed this was a pre-registered demonstrator. My last four cars have all been new, and I’ve always been the first registered keeper. The dealership didn’t tell me this was pre-registered prior to my purchase, and I’m now a second keeper. This will adversely impact the resale value of this vehicle.
The car was also sold with only 10 miles on the clock, but when it was delivered, it had an odometer reading of 30 miles. I’m not happy about either of these issues and believe I was misled into buying this vehicle.”
The accredited business’ response:
- The consumer contacted us in July 2018 and enquired about the purchase of a new car.
- He was invited to come to our showroom and was shown the car. He agreed it met his expectations and was then given the order form to sign.
- The paperwork clearly stated that the car was first registered in March 2018, so the consumer knew this was a pre-registered vehicle;
- We’re satisfied that we followed the correct processes when we sold the car and we can’t offer any further assistance to the customer on this occasion.
The adjudication outcome:
- The adjudicator considered the definition of ‘new vehicle’ against the Motor Ombudsman’s Motor Industry Code of Practice for Vehicle Sales.
- He said that a ‘pre-registered’ vehicle was a ‘new’ car that had been registered by the accredited business.
- The adjudicator acknowledged he hadn’t had sight of any adverts for the car, and couldn’t comment on any verbal discussions that had taken place between the business and the consumer.
- However, based on the information available, he said there was enough evidence to show that the consumer had been shown what was being sold and for how much.
- He said there was nothing to suggest that The Motor Ombudsman’s Code of Practice had been breached or that there had been a mis-sale.
- However, the adjudicator acknowledged that the order form stated 10 miles on the clock, and the car was delivered with 30 miles on the odometer, so an additional 20.
- He therefore upheld this aspect of the complaint and said the dealership should provide a refund of £5 for the excess mileage.
- The consumer disagreed with the adjudication outcome and requested a final decision.
The ombudsman’s final decision:
- The ombudsman reviewed the complaint, and said that to uphold it, she would need to be satisfied that there was evidence which showed the consumer had been provided with information which wasn’t accurate. This information also had to have led the consumer to enter into an agreement to purchase the car, which he wouldn’t otherwise have done.
- Alternatively, there needed to be evidence showing that the dealership withheld material information relating to the car which would have influenced the consumer’s decision to buy the vehicle.
- She said she couldn’t comment on what was verbally discussed, as she wasn’t present when the sales negotiations took place. So, her decision was based on the documentary evidence provided.
- The order form which had been signed by the consumer clearly showed the car was pre-registered.
- The ombudsman noted the consumer’s comments that he’d only seen the order form when he went to collect the car. However, the customer still would have had the opportunity to review the documents before taking delivery, and he could have walked away from the sale at that point.
- She said the consumer had asked the dealership for their ‘cheapest new car’, and for all intents and purposes, the average consumer would consider a three-month pre-registered car with an odometer reading of 10 miles to be ‘new’.
- The ombudsman remarked that the car was provided at a substantial discount and this was common on pre-registered vehicles.
- She also emphasised the fact that the dealership must be open and transparent with the information they provide. However, she said due to the lack of evidence and the signed order form clearly showing the date of registration, she couldn’t reasonably conclude that the consumer had been mis-led into purchasing the car.
- She also noted the consumer’s concerns about the re-sale value of the vehicle, and said that the market value is impacted by several factors, and there was no evidence to suggest that it would be affected solely because the consumer was the second owner of the car.
- In any event, the discount received off the price would be enough to offset any potential loss.
- As such, the ombudsman didn’t uphold this aspect of the consumer’s complaint.
- In terms of the mileage discrepancy, the ombudsman acknowledged the car had been delivered with a difference of 20 miles.
- As a result, the ombudsman upheld this aspect of the complaint and recommended a refund of £0.45 pence per excess mile, a total of £9.00.
- Both parties agreed with the final decision, and the dealership refunded the consumer in line with the ombudsman’s findings.