I recently had need to purchase a car. The reason was to enable me to keep working and functioning as a productive member of society, as long as possible whilst I undergo what could be a lengthy period of hospital treatment.
I only earn a minimum wage, my partner is a mature student, so money is tight. We could not afford anything from a garage or dealer, new or nearly new. We were not willing to take credit either in these uncertain times, only a fool would have granted it us anyway, so we did not bother looking down that road.
To cut a long story short, we purchased one off eBay on the 4th Feb 2010, from what appeared to be a private seller in the Lancashire area. We did everything we thought was correct, we asked lots of questions and we purchased from the sellers home. It was advertised with full service history, and in very good condition with only 63000 miles.
The car is a Vauxhall Vectra, 2003 Ď53í plate 2.2 automatic. After only one month and 1000 miles at the beginning of March the automatic gearbox failed resulting in a repair costing £2000 minimum. The car had been purchased for £2300, so this failure has effectively written the car off leaving us obviously in a horrible position, without our money, without transport, and with a useless car outside which we can no way afford to repair.
Anyway, a few days after the breakdown, an online friend took a look at the sellerís eBay feedback page and told me to email him and complain as he may be a trader, either full or part time. It was at this point that I began looking into the seller and his recent history very closely and some disturbing things began to emerge both about the car, and the seller.
All the sellerís auctions are private auctions; therefore you cannot see what he has sold. I have pieced together a timeline spanning from September 2009 to the present showing him selling a minimum of seven vehicles, and both selling and buying large spare parts such as gearboxes, keys and doors. He appears to have stopped using his eBay account since I emailed him, however, he was advertising a rather expensive Nissan Navara, on the Autotrader site as recently as today, as a private seller, using Autotraderís masking facility for his telephone number.
Using Google cache I also found he had one in January attempted to sell the car I purchased as a non-runner due to faulty gearbox on eBay. Ouch.
I also looked closer at the paperwork, the MOT in particular, the name of the tester, appeared to be the same as the seller. Further investigation proved the seller was in fact an MOT inspector for a very large main dealership group, and he had MOTíd his own vehicle, using his own name, along with using his main dealer employer to give the certificate.
He disclosed nothing about this on purchase. I even asked him what he did for a living, when I was viewing the car. He claimed he was helping his brother out on the markets, because he was out of work!!
I emailed the seller last week, and after a few polite emails stating I thought he was a trader, and some of the reasons why. He denied being a trader, but offered £1000.00, about 50% of the repair costs. I accepted this, as it meant we could scrape the money together with an advance from work, and a small loan from family, we could get the repairs done immediately, and stay mobile, and stay working. I was willing to take some responsibility, because obviously if I have found this out this information about the seller now, I could have found it out before I purchased
Two days later he withdrew his offer, by email. He claimed he had taken advice from trading standards and he was a private seller, with no liability for the vehicle, and any further contact from me would be deemed harassment.
I have emailed the large dealership group that he works for to complain that they have facilitated this sale by allowing him to conduct his own MOT, on his own vehicle, which was then promptly sold. They are not interested and have claimed they will not answer letters and emails on the matter.
Iím looking for guidance from you guys now really. Iím a bit lost. County court, Trading Standards, Police, HMRC, how should I take this from here? Do you think he classes as a trader, therefore giving me rights under SOG?
Ill add more too this thread as I find out more!
Terri n steve