A Car dealership has been fined for selling a vehicle as having one previous owner – but failing to mention that it was a car hire company.
Middlesbrough Trading Standards Officers brought the court case against Evans Halshaw in Cambridge Road following a complaint from a customer who bought a Vauxhall Astra from the garage. She was told by the salesman that it had ‘one previous owner’ and assumed that this meant that it had been owned by one person. She paid £11,623.90 and part-exchanged her own vehicle.
However, she only became fully aware of the Astra’s history when she received the car’s log book in the post several days later. All traders have a legal obligation to provide customers with all the relevant information to help them make an informed decision when they are buying a car.
The District Judge who heard the case at Teesside Magistrates’ Court said consumers may decide not to buy a car if they knew that the previous owner was a car rental company and that they should not be expected to ask for this information, it should be made available to them before they make their purchase.
Pendragon Motor Group Limited (trading as Evans Halshaw) was found guilty of two offences and fined £4,000 in total with a victim surcharge of £120 and costs of £2,248.52. Dealers are now being reminded to be up front with customers – or face hefty court fines and costs.
Middlesbrough Council Environmental Health and Trading Standards Manager Judith Hedgley said: “In this case, if the buyer had been told the car was an ex-rental car, she would have been able to consider this in her decision about whether to buy the car. On this occasion, the buyer would not have purchased the car.
“Evans Halshaw misled the buyer by failing to tell them about the car’s previous ownership.”
Councillor Julia Rostron, Middlesbrough Council’s Executive Member for Adult Health and Social Care, said: “For most people buying a car is one of the most expensive purchases they will make.
“This is why consumers must be given accurate and truthful information about the vehicle of their choice.
“It is a concern that this company had failed on this occasion to give their customer information that would have changed their mind about buying the car.
“The Council’s Trading Standards Officers are more than willing to work with any Middlesbrough trader who needs advice or guidance on selling their goods and services so that they don’t fall foul of consumer protection laws.
“As a result of this complaint and other enquiries Trading Standards Officers have been working with all car dealers in Middlesbrough to make them aware of their legal responsibility to disclose important information to buyers and also to remove potentially unfair terms that we have found in some contracts.”