The consumer’s issue:
“The dealership sold us an electric car. We didn’t have many requirements beyond the basic specification of the test drive vehicle, but did specifically ask prior to order to have the ability to plug into a car charger at a specific location that I visit regularly for work without cost. A photo of all the equipment was sent to the dealership and they confirmed it would work. After purchase, it transpired that even with the different adapters provided, the car could not be charged at this location. The dealership have refused to accept any liability for this. They had the option during the sale to give us a vehicle with a type 2 charge point that would have worked without question. They did not. In the meantime, the only option we had to rectify the situation (an adapter supplied by the hotel in question) cannot be used as the vehicle manufacturer says it is untested and would most likely cause a thermal induction. We cannot imagine the vehicle manufacturer tests all third party equipment, so do we now assume all non-OEM equipment to be unsafe and likely to invalidate our warranty?
We have held off getting a POD Point due to the uncertainty of this situation. This has caused significant inconvenience and considerable distress, and we will certainly not be purchasing a new vehicle again unless the garage admits liability.”
As a remedy, the consumer was seeking a partial refund of £500.
The accredited business’ response:
- The consumer enquired about an electric vehicle initially over the phone and then visited the dealership to determine whether this car would be suitable for him. The consumer was asked about his daily mileage to determine which on-board charger would be most suitable i.e. 3.3kW or 6.6kW.
- The consumer was offered a 72-hour test drive in the same model vehicle with the 3.3kW charger, the slower of the two.
- The consumer was asked at this point where he would be charging the vehicle and told the business it would be at home. No mention was made of the use of another charging point. The consumer was advised of other charging points which he would be able to use around the area where he intended to test drive the vehicle.
- The vehicle was returned following the 72-hour test drive and the business provided a quote for a PCP over 3 years.
- Prior to the order being completed, the consumer sent the business an e-mail with photos of a charging point which he intended to use, asking if the vehicle would be compatible with that particular charging point which he believed to be universal.
- The business e-mailed back to say that, yes, it would be compatible, but they had not scrolled the full way down on the e-mail, and therefore had not seen all of the photos which showed the charging point was for a different manufacturer.
- The consumer then made a complaint after taking delivery of the car to say that he was having trouble charging at the point which he enquired about, and asked if he would be able to use an adapter. The business found two other charging points within 1.4 miles of that one
- However, they advised against using an adapter as they could not guarantee that it wouldn’t cause damage.
The adjudication outcome:
The adjudicator concluded that the dealership had breached the following clause within The Motor Ombudsman’s Vehicle Sales Code of Practice:
- Clause 7.4 – The business will meet their obligations under the Consumer Rights Act 2015 to be fit for purpose, of satisfactory quality and as described.
The consumer had asked a specific question as to whether the vehicle would be compatible with a particular charging point and the business confirmed that it would be. The business was given enough information at that point to determine that the vehicle would not be compatible with the charging point, but as they had not read the full e-mail, they gave the consumer incorrect information.
- A partial refund of £500 was awarded to the consumer and was accepted by the business.