The consumer’s issue:
“I entered into a deal to buy a car and put down a £1,500 deposit. This was meant to be returned to me when I collected the car, as the dealership had financed the full amount. However, when I came to collect it, I was given all sorts of excuses for why they had to keep my deposit. I then received a new order form which I hadn’t seen before which showed a number of additional items that I hadn’t agreed to purchase. I would like my £1,500 deposit back in accordance with the original agreement.”
The accredited business’ response:
- The factory which was building the car shut down shortly after the purchase.
- We managed to source another vehicle further down the production line, but it had a number of optional extras.
- The consumer agreed to pay for these and it meant that her deposit was put towards the new price.
The adjudication outcome:
- The adjudicator did not uphold the customer’s complaint.
- When looking at the paperwork, there were no signed documents or any written communication between the consumer and dealership, because the agreement was verbal.
- As such, the adjudicator could not be more sure than not as to what happened, and consequently, could not make an award.
- The consumer claimed that this was unfair and that the dealership had treated her very badly. They therefore asked for the case to be referred to the ombudsman.
The ombudsman’s final decision:
- The ombudsman reviewed the evidence and partially upheld the customer’s complaint.
- On the issue of the deposit, no order form had been signed showing what the consumer had agreed to.
- However, the consumer had signed the finance agreement showing the higher price of the vehicle which matched the price on the second order form.
- The ombudsman also noted a part-exchange vehicle had been added to the second order form. This meant there had to have been some discussion between the first and second order forms, and that the customer would have been made aware of a price change.
- Where the ombudsman upheld the complaint was that the second order form showed the consumer’s discounts had been reduced and she had been charged extra for paint, which hadn’t been charged on the original order form.
- The ombudsman didn’t think it was fair that she lost out on those discounts for something that wasn’t her fault, and therefore, the ombudsman awarded the customer a £950 refund to make up the difference.