Post-sale problems

The consumer’s issue:

I purchased a 2011 plate saloon in October 2018, with 55,000 miles on the clock. Since buying the car, I have tried to get the dealership to look at the vehicle and see what is wrong with it, as I was having lots of problems with it. Initially, they just kept offering to part-exchange the vehicle, but eventually they diagnosed it and found issues with the air-conditioning, rear suspension bushes, brake pads, tyres, exhaust and misaligned wheels. They told me it would cost around £1,300 to fix everything. They admitted fault on a few items, such as the brake pads and tyres, as they said they should have picked these up when they serviced the car before selling it. However, they said I still had to pay £900 to rectify the remaining issues. Eventually, they agreed to repair the car free of charge.

It’s now 10 months since I bought the car, and it’s still not in working condition. In fact, the business is trying to charge me more than the car is worth for problems they should have repaired at their cost. I would now like to reject the car and get a full refund for it, minus a deduction for fair use.”

The accredited business’ response:

  • The consumer raised their complaint after seven months of ownership, and after driving 5,000 miles, which lessens the likelihood that the problems existed at the point of sale.
  • Despite this, the issues with the vehicle were repaired free of charge on 18th of April 2019.
  • We did not hear anything else from the consumer, and the first time we were made aware of any further faults was when we received the complaint via The Motor Ombudsman.
  • To our knowledge, all of the problems have been rectified, which means that we do not think that the consumer has a right to reject the vehicle.

The adjudication outcome:

  • The Motor Ombudsman adjudicator looked at the evidence presented by both sides, and they did not think that there was a strong enough case to support a rejection, due to there being insufficient proof to demonstrate a problem at the point of sale.
  • In any event, it did not matter, because the business had since repaired the faults free of charge, so there was no justification for rejection because the consumer had not provided any evidence to show the car was faulty.
  • The customer did not agree with the adjudication outcomes and asked for a final decision from the ombudsman.
  • The consumer mentioned that they had successfully rejected the car with the finance company.
  • However, when asked for further information, the customer clarified that the car had been repossessed because they had stopped making the payments for it. As such, the consumer was now looking for the dealership to pay off the rest of their debt to the finance company.

The ombudsman’s final decision:

  • The ombudsman reviewed the complaint, taking into consideration the new information about the consumer’s circumstances.
  • In doing so, the ombudsman felt that there was no reason to consider the case further because, even if the complaint could be upheld, the business could not be instructed to accept a rejection in this case.
  • Under normal circumstances, a consumer can seek to reject the car through both the dealership and the finance company. However, this is reliant on the customer being able to hand the product back to the party they are claiming against.
  • By allowing it to be repossessed by the finance company, they could no longer pursue a rejection with the dealership because they were unable to hand the car back to them.
  • Even setting this to one side, the ombudsman was not convinced the car was faulty.
  • She did feel that there was likely to be at least one fault present at point of sale, because one of the issues was a sensor that had been fitted incorrectly. She felt it was unlikely that this happened after the sale, as it was an issue with the fitting.
  • However, the consumer had not been clear as to whether the car was still faulty, or whether the repairs carried out by the dealership had resolved all of the issues.
  • The ombudsman was therefore not in a position to uphold the consumer’s complaint, and the case was closed.