Top Complaint to OFT Remains Used Cars

Jack Humphrey, Regulatory journalist
November 14, 2011 /

Used cars continue to top the number of complaints to the OFT, according to figures released by the agency.

Nationally over 56,000 people have complained to the OFT-managed Consumer Direct in the year to date. Recently, the OFT has taken enforcement action against Carcraft, which has 11 car supermarkets across England and Wales, over concerns about its business practices when selling cars, finance and after-sale guarantees.

The new statistics have been published by the OFT as it launches a Know Your Consumer Rights campaign to warn people about problems they may encounter when buying a used car. The statistics are for calls received by Consumer Direct between 1 January 2011 and 29 September 2011.

As part of the campaign, the OFT has produced a short online film to inform people about their basic rights when buying a used car, and what to do if they encounter problems after purchase. It is also working with local trading standards and the motor industry to make information on consumer rights more readily available.

The campaign is being supported by organisations from across the motoring industry. The OFT is working with local authority trading standards across the UK who are helping to publicise the campaign. The campaign will work alongside the OFT’s consumer education programme Skilled to Go, guidance supplied to dealers, and enforcement practices to help make the market work better for consumers.

The figures show that more than 70 per cent of the complaints were about faults with the cars; over 13 per cent were about misleading claims or omissions by the seller; and nearly seven per cent were about substandard services.

An OFT study published last year found that consumers are left out of pocket by an average of £425 each, or £85 million per year in total, because they have to fix unresolved faults that are the dealers’ obligation to correct.

Michele Shambrook from Consumer Direct said: “We continue to receive a high number of complaints which are often due to some traders refusing to deal with legitimate complaints or provide appropriate compensation.

“We want to help people understand their rights when buying a used car from a dealer and we are working with the industry and local authority trading standards to get this message across.

“Dealers who fail to treat customers fairly or sell cars that are defective could face enforcement action.”

Before making purchases of used cars, the OFT advises the public to ask the dealer the right questions about the mechanical, history or mileage checks have they done.

Any car that is bought from a dealer should be of satisfactory quality, fit for purpose, and and as described.

If it isn’t, the item is faulty, the OFT said.

“If you discover that the car is faulty, go back to the trader as soon as possible. If they are unable to help you, contact Consumer Direct on 0845 040506,” the OFT added.

Warranties are an additional benefit and do not replace the buyers’ rights.

Cheaper cars might be available from auctions or private sellers but consumers have fewer rights.

 

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