News item

Unroadworthy car cost Warwickshire garage almost £8000

A Warwickshire garage that sold an unroadworthy car and denied consumers their rights by using statements such as ‘sold as seen’ has been ordered to pay almost £8000 in fines and costs.

Warwickshire County Council’s Trading Standards Service took the successful prosecution in National Consumer Week 2013, launched to raise awareness of the precautions consumers need to take when buying a used car.

On Monday 4th November 2013, Martin Newbold Director of Polesworth Garage Ltd, Grendon Road Polesworth pleaded guilty on behalf of the company.

Warwickshire County Councillor Les Caborn, Portfolio Holder for Community Safety said:

“It is completely unacceptable for garages to be putting road-users lives at risk by selling unroadworthy vehicles.”

“Independent car dealers can seek help and advice from Warwickshire Trading Standards on how to comply with the law. But traders who do not take their responsibilities seriously are warned they could face court action.”

In March 2013, two undercover Trading Standards Officers, posing as normal consumers purchased a 2003 Renault Scenic which the garage had been advertising, for £1295. The purchase was part of a county-wide investigation in to the sale of suspected unroadworthy vehicles. 

The garage had previously been given advice about selling unroadworthy vehicles and the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 by Trading Standards in August 2010 and in March 2013, (shortly before the test purchase).

The car was then tested by an expert vehicle examiner and found to be unroadworthy. The edges of some of the tyres were worn smooth and the wear was so bad that the braiding was starting to show through the tread, a headlamp was not working and there were problems with the vehicle’s rear suspension. Other problems identified included brake disc corrosion.

It is illegal to sell an unroadworthy car, except for spares or repairs and must not be driven on the road until repaired.

The car had been advertised as "trade sale, no warranty given" and “sold as seen”. However, garages cannot use these statements to deny consumers their legal rights.

In mitigation Mr Newbold said that the company had changed the way it operated and had adopted a new policy which would ensure that no vehicle would leave the garage in an unroadworthy condition. Vehicles would be examined and faults identified by a label on the car and would be rectified before the vehicle went on sale. If they could not be rectified the vehicle would be scrapped. 

When a consumer buys a car from a trader they should expect the car to be

  • of satisfactory quality (taking into account its age and mileage) 
  • meet any description they were given prior to purchase and 
  • be fit for the purpose 

If the second hand car does not meet these requirements, the consumer has the right to claim against the dealer for breach of contract.

At Nuneaton Justice Centre on Monday 4th November 2013 company Director Martin Newbold pleaded guilty on behalf of Polesworth Garage Ltd to:

  • A misleading action under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 relating to the terms "trade sale, no warranty given" and "sold as seen" for which they were fined £3000 and 
  • The supply of a vehicle which was unroadworthy for which they were fined £1000

The magistrates indicated that the fines were reduced by 1/3 due to the early guilty plea. They were also ordered to pay £3759.51 costs and a £20 victim surcharge.

For consumer advice or to report an unroadworthy vehicle contact the Citizens Advice Consumer Service provides free, confidential and impartial advice on consumer issues. Visit www.adviceguide.org.uk or call the Citizens Advice consumer helpline on 08454 04 05 06.

For more information about National Consumer Week visit: http://tinyurl.com/WarksNCW13

 

- Ends - 

1) Ann Belcher represented Warwickshire County Council

2) Mr Martin Newbold was not legally represented

3) The Magistrates fined the company £3,000 for the offence of engaging in an unfair commercial practice which deceived or was likely to deceive the average consumer in relation to the consumer’s rights by describing the vehicle sold to a Trading Standards Officer as “trade sale, no warranty given” and “sold as seen”, contrary to regulation 9 of the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008; and £1000 for the offence of supplying an unroadworthy vehicle to a Trading Standards Officer, contrary to s75(5) of the Road Traffic Act 1988. The company was also ordered to pay Prosecution costs of £3759.51 (which included the cost of the test purchase vehicle at £1250, less £100 scrap value) plus a victim surcharge of £20, making a total of £7,879.51.

For media enquiries please contact Simon Cripwell, Trading Standards Officer on 07771 975570 or 01926 414039.

DATE: 6 November 2013