The consumer’s issue:
“When my vehicle, a 2013 luxury MPV broke down in 2019, my car was recovered to my local garage for repairs, and they cost £697. I contacted my vehicle warranty provider to claim a refund, but they only paid me £432. This is because the policy would only cover 80% of the repair cost due to the age and mileage of the vehicle. I was unaware that the warranty had this exclusion, and I cannot find this anywhere in the policy documents that I downloaded after I took out the agreement. I have also lodged a claim previously to cover the cost of repairs, and the same provider refunded me 100% of the bill.
I made several phone calls to the warranty provider to query this and I received conflicting information regarding the value of the claim on each occasion. During the last call, the adviser referred the complaint to a manager, and I received an e-mail containing the warranty documents and the reason why I was only paid 80% of the repair cost, but I was unable to open the attachments. When I called back, I explained this, and again, I was told I would receive another e-mail. However, I still couldn’t read the enclosed documents.
I would like the balance of the repair bill to be refunded, and I would also like the business to stop cold calling people when someone has searched for a policy online. When they call to sell the warranty, they will tell you that all events are covered and do not explain the terms and conditions.”
The accredited business’ response:
- The consumer went online searching for car warranty policies for their vehicle in August 2018. During the quotation process, the consumer entered their contact details and would have seen the message about calling them to check that the details are correct, and that we have offered the customer the best combination of price and cover.
- We refute the accusation that we cold call customers. This is not part of our business strategy and we only ever speak to consumers if they’re a warm lead.
- In this case, we called back the customer in September 2018 to see if we could offer a better price than the quote and to answer any queries on the policy they were researching. The consumer then purchased this plan, and this was activated on the day for 13 months. The customer also ticked a box in their account area to accept the terms and conditions of the policy.
- These state that the warranty will pay out on valid claims, but for older vehicles over six years old, or that have completed more than 60,000 miles, we will ask for a component contribution and cover 80% of the cost. In addition, it also states that the excess or repair contribution on any one claim on this policy is £50 (excl. VAT).
- The customer reported an issue with the rear suspension, and the car was booked into one of our approved repairers. They diagnosed a burst airbag shock absorber and a collapsed suspension system.
- An offside rear airbag shock absorber was required for the repair at a cost of £578+VAT – a total of £693.60. This figure included £78 for the recovery of the vehicle.
- We therefore reported that we would be prepared to cover the claim as per the terms of the policy, and after the component and repair contributions, we refunded the customer £432.48.
- Having reviewed the figures again, we believe the customer was not refunded the cost of recovery at the time, which was £65+VAT (i.e. £78). If the customer provides a copy of their receipt and their bank details, we will reimburse this.
- The consumer also stated that she was not deducted a percentage on a previous claim. This was due to an error on our system, and strictly speaking, they should have had a deduction on the first claim.
- The warranty operates on a discretionary basis for the benefit of all subscribers/members, and any claim paid out must meet the terms of the warranty as a valid claim.
The adjudication outcome:
- The Motor Ombudsman adjudicator reviewed the evidence and found that the business had adhered to the terms of the warranty. At the time of the claim, the car had covered 65,000 miles, which made it eligible for only 80% of the repair cost.
- The consumer claimed that, at the point of sale, they were not aware of this condition, but they had gone online and accepted the terms of the policy.
- Therefore, the adjudicator was unable to conclude that the warranty had been mis-sold, and they were also satisfied that the terms regarding the deductions were clearly explained.
- The business did however acknowledge that it had failed to reimburse the cost of recovery (£65+VAT), a breach of the Vehicle Warranty Products Code, and they had offered to reimburse this on the basis of the consumer supplying a receipt.
- The adjudicator therefore concluded that this was a fair and reasonable resolution to their complaint, meaning that the complaint was partially upheld in the consumer’s favour.
- Both parties agreed with the adjudication outcome and the consumer provided a copy of their invoice to the business detailing the cost of recovery cost, and they were reimbursed.
- Both parties were satisfied with the outcome and the case was closed.