A Greysteel motor trader was fined a total of £500 at Londonderry Magistrates Court on Thursday 19th May, for misleading a consumer concerning the purchase of a car.
In a case brought by the Trading Standards Service of the Department for the Economy, Lee Toland, who traded as LT Cars, was found guilty of a charge under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008.
In December 2014 the Trading Standards Service received a complaint from a consumer who had purchased a Ford Focus car from Mr. Lee Toland. Mr. Toland failed to mention the fact that the car which had sustained accident damage was classified as a Category C insurance write-off. Such a classification substantially reduces a car’s selling value.
The Trading Standards Service investigation confirmed that the vehicle had suffered substantial accident damage in 2013 and was declared a Category C Total Loss by the insurance company. Mr.Toland was aware of the extent of the damage prior to selling the car but failed to indicate this fact in an advertisement or on the customers receipt. The District Judge concluded that the average customer should have such facts explained in full and confirmation of same written into the customers receipt. This did not happen in this case.
Eamon Mc Partland of the Trading Standards Service said: “Car dealers must ensure that all descriptions applied to vehicles are truthful. Additionally, they must not leave out any important information that might affect a consumer’s decision to buy a car. In this case, Mr. Tolands’s behaviour in the sale of the vehicle fell short of the trading practices expected of traders selling used cars to consumers.”
The Trading Standards Service offers the following advice when buying a used car:
- Buy from a reputable dealer. Vehicles may cost more when bought from a main dealer but they will have carried out checks on the vehicle’s history before offering cars for sale.
- Bring someone with you that knows about cars. Excessive wear and tear on the driver’s seat, steering wheel and foot pedals may be inconsistent with the indicated mileage.
- Ensure that you see all of the relevant original paperwork- the logbook, the car’s service history and MOT certificates. With this information, you can contact the previous owners of the vehicle as well as the garages that carried out the servicing work to ask questions about the history of the vehicle. Everything should be present and correct. If it is not, simply walk away from the deal.
- Carry out an online vehicle mileage and accident check.
- If you know the registration and chassis numbers of a vehicle, you can contact the Driver Vehicle Agency to enquire about the recorded mileage of the vehicle at its previous MOTs. The chassis number is visible on the bottom left corner of most car windscreens.
- If buying from a “private” seller, get proof of the seller’s name and address.
- Finally, never buy a car from the side of a road and pay cash to somebody you don’t know.
Anyone who believes they have been sold goods which have been falsely described should contact Consumerline on 0300 123 6262.