Voice recognition issues

The consumer’s issue:

I bought a brand new vehicle in October 2017. It came with a satellite navigation system that has a voice recognition feature. However, it’s unable to recognise about 90% of the addresses and places of interest that I’ve tried. It also doesn’t give me the fastest route for my journey, and I’ve found that when I use my initiative, the system shows the way I’ve taken is quicker. That means it knows the route would be faster, but it shows me another one anyway. I’d like the system to be fixed please so it works properly.”

The accredited business’ response:

  • The system has been investigated and is fully functional.
  • The voice recognition system doesn’t have a 100% voice recognition rate, but this isn’t enough to say that it’s faulty.
  • As the system is fully operational, there’s nothing to repair and is working normally.

The adjudication outcome:

  • The adjudicator partially upheld the customer’s complaint.
  • This was on the basis that the advertising for the satellite navigation system said it would get users to their destinations “quickly, safely and stress-free”.
  • The customer felt that this implied that the system would be efficient and that, because drivers could find quicker routes, it wasn’t “stress-free”.
  • With the voice recognition, the adjudicator understood that it was frustrating for the customer, but accepted that the system was operating as intended.
  • The adjudicator awarded the consumer £495, equivalent to the cost of the satellite navigation option.
  • The manufacturer disagreed with the adjudication outcome, as there were no fault codes for the satellite navigation system, and whilst they accepted the advertising said it would get users to their destinations “quickly”, this doesn’t necessarily mean the quickest. This is because the system is dynamic in its calculations, so arrival time will change based on live information.
  • The complaint was referred to the ombudsman for a final decision.

The ombudsman’s final decision:

  • The ombudsman also upheld the customer’s complaint.
  • She agreed that with the voice recognition system, the technology has its limitations and these aren’t unique to the consumer’s car. Therefore, the ombudsman wasn’t going to look into this matter any further.
  • However, with the satellite navigation, it was reasonable for consumers to believe, based on the advertising, that their system would take them on the best route available in order for them to arrive quickly and without any stress.
  • Whilst it was recognised that local knowledge can beat a satellite navigation system, when the consumer took an alternative route, the system knew it was quicker and the arrival time changed. The consumer had evidenced that this happened on multiple occasions.
  • As such, the system clearly knew an alternative route would be quicker, yet chose not to use it, which didn’t match the advertising claims.
  • Having said that, the ombudsman didn’t think giving the consumer a full refund of the option was fair because he was still getting some use out of it.
  • Therefore, the ombudsman reduced the award to £350 to recognise this, and so that it was fairer and more proportionate for both parties.


  • The accredited business was found to be in breach of the Code of Practice for New Cars and was asked to pay £350, which the consumer also accepted.