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Thread: Consumer Advice = guidance for members

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    Ex Vec-C Admin Deztroyer's Avatar
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    Thumbs up Consumer Advice = guidance for members

    A great big thanks to BoroDave74 - who has kindly in his own time put together the following advice for members.

    please take the time to read it as it's very informative and if you feel that anyone could benefit from the information provided in this Sticky then pop a link on the appropriate
    thread for them to see ...

    once again a great big thanks to Dave from the Moderators and Admin Team



    There have been numerous threads since Iíve been a member, where a member is asking for help with regards to their legal position either when buying a car, or after unsatisfactory servicing or repairs. There is protection in law for consumers in these instances, and I can own up to only knowing all this as I work in Trading Standards. Car-related consumer problems top the list for us every year, so much so, Trading Standards and the government have had to improve and evolve they way we deliver advice, assistance and enforcement of the relevant laws.

    To this and several other ends, Consumer Direct was set up. They are for more days and open longer hours and can answer hundreds of times more calls. In many cases, Consumer Direct will be able to help you immediately, but when direct intervention, or face-to-face advice is required, your case may will be referred to your local Trading Standards Authority or another organisation that can help.

    This is not to suggest that any given problem may not be able to be assisted as a member has personal experience of that exact problem. This is to help all members in a variety of circumstances. These are your rights and I would personally hate to think someone here missed out, or was treated unfairly, because I didnít put this publicly available information up.

    This information is not my legal opinion, but has been taken from the various organisations who enforce, or advise on, the relevant legislation.

    Rights when buying a used car
    Used cars may have some faults, but they should not be "excessive" in relation the carís condition, age and mileage. Fair wear and tear is not considered to be a fault.
    Your rights when buying from a dealer, or motor trader:
    You are protected by the Sale of Goods Act 1979, as amended by the Sale and Supply of Goods Act 1994 and the Sale and Supply of Goods to Consumers Regulations 2002. The car must be of satisfactory quality, fit for purpose, and as described. A standard a "reasonable" person would regard as acceptable, bearing in mind description, age, mileage and cost.
    The car must be free from defects, except those pointed out to you by the trader.
    These rights are not affected by any guarantee, warranty or mechanical breakdown insurance. This is an agreement on its own and is in addition to your consumer rights.
    If you inspect the car, or someone else does for you, the dealer may not be liable for any faults which should have been uncovered by the inspection.
    Traders cannot remove your rights by using phrases such as "sold as seen".

    Reputable dealers should be members of a relevant trade association and bound by their code of conduct, e.g. Retail Motor Industry Federation or Scottish Motor Trade Association.

    Before signing any agreement make sure you understand any credit charges, part exchange prices, deposit terms and conditions of sale.
    Your rights when buying privately:
    The car must be as described but the other rules, which apply to traders, donít apply here. If a private seller lies about the condition of a vehicle, you can sue for your losses, if you can find the seller.
    A private seller is not obligated to undergo the same checks on a vehicle that a trader is.
    It is well known that some traderís pretend to be private sellers to avoid their obligations under law. Typical warning signs are where the same phone number appears in a number of adverts, adverts where only a mobile phone number is giving, the seller wants to bring the car to you, or to a neutral location, the car is for sale on the side of the street. If the seller is not a private seller then your full legal rights apply.
    A common technique when ringing about a car is to start with "Iím ringing about the car for sale", as most sellers will only have one car for sale at a given time, if they ask you "which one" you should beware.
    Your rights when buying at auction:
    Read the auctioneerís conditions of business carefully before bidding.
    Your usual legal rights may not apply if the seller issues a disclaimer such as sold as seen, which will exclude some, or all, of your rights.
    Additionally check with you insurer as often you will not be covered for driving a car home when buying a car from auction.
    Your rights when buying online:
    If you are buying a car from a business over the internet, your rights are the same as if you were buying a car in person from the business. Additionally you may have rights under the Distance Selling Regulations, such as a seven day cooling off period if there is no face-to-face contact.
    However, if you are buying a car from an individual over the internet, your rights are the same as if you were buying a car in person from an individual.
    What to do if something goes wrong:
    You have a short time after buying a used car to reject it. If the fault was present when you bought the car you do have alternative options such as repair or replacement. Go back to the seller straight away, explain the problem and say what you want done. If the seller is a Trader which is a member of a Trade Association, go to the Associations website for advice on the code of conduct and what you can expect.
    The Consumer Direct template letter is here, number 6, please read the guidance notes at the bottom of the page:
    http://www.consumerdirect.gov.uk/aft...plate-letters/

    Rights following servicing or repair

    The same laws which protect you when buying a car also protect you when you take your car to a garage for servicing or repair. You are entitled to expect the work to be carried out with reasonable care and skill, within a reasonable time at a reasonable charge.
    If a part is replaced, the new part should also be of satisfactory quality, fit for the purpose and as described.
    If a fault has not been repaired properly, you should allow the garage a chance to rectify it. If they fail to do so, you may be entitled to get the work done elsewhere and recover your costs from the garage.
    If the garage fits a part that turns out to be faulty, and the part has not been fitted very long, you may be entitled to a refund, or you could ask for the part to be replaced.
    It is a criminal offence to charge for work that has not been carried out. Complaints about such practices should be made to Consumer Direct.




    Up to date and accurate Legal advice is available from:
    08454 04 05 06

    Although there are other providers of legal advice, this is the only organisation set up specifically for consumers. The Citizenís Advice service is set up to help people resolve their legal, money and other problems.
    Frequently your local Trading Standards will be able to provide consumer advice in person or via email. To get the contact details for your local Trading Standards enter your postcode at the bottom of the page here:

    Additional protection
    If you pay more than £100 for your car, repairs or servicing, on a credit card, you are protected by the Consumer Credit Act 1974 which makes the credit card company equally liable.
    The template letter for such a complaint is here:

    MoneySavingExpertís guide to the Sale of Goods Act and SADFART rules:
    http://vouchers.moneysavingexpert.co...template2a.pdf


    Guidance for where to buy cars, or where to get work done can best be gained from family and friendís experience, although notable schemes include the governmentís Trusted Trader scheme and The Good Garage Scheme which rely on good feedback.



    If you are unsure, walk away. There are lots of cars for sale. The phrase I hear time and time again at work is:
    "If it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is."

    0-Large smile ......every time it's driven

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    Regular Member Tadpole's Avatar
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    Many thanks for posting Dez lot’s of information & useful links.
    Let’s hope I don’t have to visit the page again in a hurry ……………

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    Ex Vec-C Admin Deztroyer's Avatar
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    as i said at the top of the link all the thanks goes to Dave for his efforts and work in compiling the correct course of action and guidance for all members benefit

    - i just hope no one has to use it

    0-Large smile ......every time it's driven

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    Regular Member Ste's Avatar
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    Very good to have all that info compiled into one easily accessible place.


    One question from me that isn't covered would be the scenario where a garage does some work to your car, and charges you for the work and parts, which then hasn't cured the fault. Eg fits a new battery when the real problem is the alternator - which is then changed later. What redress do you have about the incorrectly changed battery and it's costs?

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    Ex Vec-C Admin Deztroyer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ste View Post
    Very good to have all that info compiled into one easily accessible place.


    One question from me that isn't covered would be the scenario where a garage does some work to your car, and charges you for the work and parts, which then hasn't cured the fault. Eg fits a new battery when the real problem is the alternator - which is then changed later. What redress do you have about the incorrectly changed battery and it's costs?
    Ste, there are no specific questions answered - just suitable advice above

    regarding your query
    if the battery was replaced owing to a dead cell or not charging then the garage in question should have correctly followed a specific formula
    • confirm customer complaint
    • diagnose the cause
    • rectify the cause

    if they HAVE correctly diagnosed the cause =( most garages now use a midtonics tester that will check the charge rate of the alternator and health state of the battery ...etc- all of which can then be printed off and given to the customer as proof of the cause) this would have potentially shown that the alternator was not providing sufficient charge and then as such the battery has been "starved" and is consequential damage from the alternator - generally(other than old age - which seems to be amplified by the cold weather as additional loads on the battery from heaters/heated screens/lights on all the times etc..) batteries are caused to go faulty by another external contributary factor - amp drain from external fitted item/ lack of use/recharge / alternator failure etc and the garage may have missed this out ..........but the onus would be on you to prove/disprove that their initial diagnosis was incorrect - i.e the new battery was dead within a few days - then i would argue they had only uncompleted the job as the battery would no doubt have still been needed

    as a guide most manufacturers have now removed the cars battery from the vehicles warranty as they are now meticulously checked at the factory then in storage and then at the dealership PRIOR to sale - so in that case they now claim that the battery must have been drained by some other source - if the garage can GENUINELY prove the battery is faulty and no external amp drain /damage etc then they may consider the battery as goodwill

    0-Large smile ......every time it's driven

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    Full Member GazVXLINE170's Avatar
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    I live in an area where the council dont recognise Trading Standards and I would need to go through a small claims court.

    Bit rubbish that a council - or whoever is reponsible - can decide not to recognise this. Only Weights and Measurements they accept.

    Gazza4
    Insignia VX-Line Nav CDTI 170.

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    Regular Member Ste's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by deztroyer View Post
    Ste, there are no specific questions answered - just suitable advice above

    regarding your query
    if the battery was replaced owing to a dead cell or not charging then the garage in question should have correctly followed a specific formula
    • confirm customer complaint
    • diagnose the cause
    • rectify the cause

    if they HAVE correctly diagnosed the cause =( most garages now use a midtonics tester that will check the charge rate of the alternator and health state of the battery ...etc- all of which can then be printed off and given to the customer as proof of the cause) this would have potentially shown that the alternator was not providing sufficient charge and then as such the battery has been "starved" and is consequential damage from the alternator - generally(other than old age - which seems to be amplified by the cold weather as additional loads on the battery from heaters/heated screens/lights on all the times etc..) batteries are caused to go faulty by another external contributary factor - amp drain from external fitted item/ lack of use/recharge / alternator failure etc and the garage may have missed this out ..........but the onus would be on you to prove/disprove that their initial diagnosis was incorrect - i.e the new battery was dead within a few days - then i would argue they had only uncompleted the job as the battery would no doubt have still been needed

    as a guide most manufacturers have now removed the cars battery from the vehicles warranty as they are now meticulously checked at the factory then in storage and then at the dealership PRIOR to sale - so in that case they now claim that the battery must have been drained by some other source - if the garage can GENUINELY prove the battery is faulty and no external amp drain /damage etc then they may consider the battery as goodwill

    I didn't make it clear. The battery / alternator was just an example of one way in which they hadn't cured the problem but had charged for changing something which had no effect. ie did something, charged for it, and it didn't solve the problem. (ie wasn't the cause)

    What legal redress is there for 'repairs' that haven't cured the problem? ie an incorrect diagnosis.

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    Regular Member BoroDave74's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gazza4 View Post
    I live in an area where the council dont recognise Trading Standards and I would need to go through a small claims court.

    Bit rubbish that a council - or whoever is reponsible - can decide not to recognise this. Only Weights and Measurements they accept.

    Gazza4
    Weights and Measures and Trading Standards are one and the same, although we now call W&M - Metrology. Metrology is just one part of the qualification for a TSO, along with Food Safety, Product Safety, Animal Health and so on. Each Trading Standards department is part of the local council, or unitary authority. So, for example, I am employed by Norfolk County Council, and work in Trading Standards, in the area of Metrology. Are they not recognising themselves? Feel free to PM me.


    Ste, that really falls into contract law as there is virually never a proper agreement to "cure" an unknown fault between customer and mechanic, only an invitation to inspect, attempt diagnosis and repair. Therefore making the consumer liable for costs involved.

    Obviously if they fix it and the new part breaks down after three weeks that is clearly covered above, but where the trader spends time and money trying to "cure" but is unable to, is a relatively unique area for both parties. It would be unreasonable to expect a tradesman to spend all day working without being paid. But, I agree, it is annoying struggling to have a fault rectified, at what often seems like limitless cost.

    In most walks of life you would have a problem, ie blocked drain, and the suitable person would advise you in advance of their charges for the service, whether hourly rate or flat fee you agree, they come, fix the fault, and everything is fine.

    However what we have with our cars is a situation where the fault is often unknown, even by the "expert" after thorough diagnosis and testing, and there is rarely an acceptance prior to work being started that they guarentee to fix the problem.
    In the ideal world we'd contract our mechanics to guarentee to fix the fault, or no fee would be payable, but I'm fairly sure no-one would sign it.

    Bottom line? As a consumer, you need to be as specific as you can when you take your car in for repairs or maintenance. That way you know what to expect in terms of cost and time. Should work be carried out which you have not authorised, you have the right to withold payment. Your car goes in for a cam belt and they charge you for a cam belt and water pump and haven't made it clear when you go in and ask for the cost of the cam belt change, you only pay for the cam belt. If they wish to remove the part, thats up to them.
    Additionally, always ask, it is polite to let them know when you take it in, but you are under no obligation, for any replaced parts back. They are your property. Alternators etc can be reconditioned and have a value to you. Unscrupulous traders often add on extras which can really add up. Yes you do want your broken parts back and if they can't provide them for you, you have every right to believe they have not carried out the work, and therefore you are not paying for that part.

    Simple faults - broken spring anyone? - are easily diagnosed and fixed and you are in a similar scenario to the blocked drain as a consumer, where you can shop around and compare prices, spec etc.

    I can admit that my glow plug fault has been present for more than 12 months and a finalist for this years mechanic of the year advised not further attempting to fix it, as the potential cost of finding the solution after glow plugs and relay were changed, would not be worth it. As the fault itself was not serious enough to warrant it. When it goes that far I'm happy to accept their opinion.

    1. Go where you can trust the trader in so far as possible.
    2. Be specific - set expectations. The trader can explain expected costs and time, and can refuse the work if they don't believe they can satisfy you. Equally you can take your custom elsewhere.
    3. Only pay for the agreed work. Quotes can be flexible. Additional work must be authorised by you. Make this extra clear in point 2.
    4. Accept that the complexity of cars may lead to faults arising which are very expensive to rectify, or potentially impossible within the value of the car.
    5. Incorrect diagnosises are perfectly plausible when the fault codes are so generic. Unless the trader specifically guarentees to rectify the fault, in writing ideally, you can only be considered to invite them to attempt a repair, and as such, given a reasonable reason as to why they cannot rectify the fault, you are liable for the agreed costs for time and parts.

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    Ex Vec-C Admin Deztroyer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ste View Post
    I didn't make it clear. The battery / alternator was just an example of one way in which they hadn't cured the problem but had charged for changing something which had no effect. ie did something, charged for it, and it didn't solve the problem. (ie wasn't the cause)

    What legal redress is there for 'repairs' that haven't cured the problem? ie an incorrect diagnosis.
    Sorry Ste, in that case are they a main dealer or a private/independant garage as it may well have some bearing in relation to how you deal/proceed with any grievence with them - if you want to send me a pm of the details i will happily have a read and give you my opinion for what its worth
    = but to put you in the picture it will probably be friday before i can have a look as im in Slough tomorrow for a seminar

    0-Large smile ......every time it's driven

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    Regular Member Ste's Avatar
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    It was just a general question really. I just wondered what was the legal position on it and Borodave has more than adequately answered it. Thanks

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