30 Day Return – Another Case To Make My Blood Boil

Friday, 9. February 2018

Hi, Graham Hill here, thank you so much for visiting my blog, I hope you learn a lot and as a result end up driving a great car. In order to do so you can get all the information you need by buying my book, An Insider Guide To Car Finance or use me to finance your next car. Happy driving.

If you are a regular reader of my musings you will know that little brings my blood to the boil quicker than reading about the abuse of the law by dealers and even finance companies. The problem that many consumers have is that they don’t understand their rights. The 30-day rule, introduced as part of the Consumer Rights Act 2015, isn’t difficult to understand.

 

If the product, in this case, a car, is of unsatisfactory quality, unfit for purpose or not as described you have the right to reject the goods. The confusion comes when you finance the car on HP or PCP.

 

Too often the customer turns to the dealer in order to reject the car when in fact, legally, the rejection should be made to the finance provider. The fact that you negotiated the deal with the dealer is irrelevant. The dealer invoiced the car to the finance company. They have then financed THEIR car under contract to you.

 

In this instance, Auto Express reported a case whereby Jennifer Taylor of Darlington, County Durham took delivery of a Nissan Juke, financed by Nissan Finance. When she took delivery she noticed that the front and rear bumpers were a completely different shade of blue to the rest of the car.

 

So bad was the difference, first noticed by her dad, she could see the difference in shade from a hundred yards away. Within a couple of days, given the fault, she decided to reject the car. But instead of serving the rejection on the finance company she served it on the dealer.

 

The dealer carried out a test on the paint (strange given that the difference was easily visible). As a result, the dealer suggested that the bumpers needed a re-spray, costing £954. But they weren’t clear as to who would pay for the respray. As a result, Jennifer sent photos to Nissan head office.

 

The dealer immediately offered to respray the bumpers free of charge. But technicians warned that they might not guarantee a perfect paint match. Besides that, as Jennifer said, ‘I paid for a brand new car, not a resprayed one.’ Jennifer finally contacted Nissan Finance, explaining that she wanted to reject the car.

 

After 8 weeks of investigation, Nissan Finance wrote to Jennifer explaining that they still hadn’t come to a decision. When Auto Express finally got involved Nissan Finance, who clearly had done nothing, said that they were in the process of having the vehicle inspected by one of their Field Technical Engineers. They said to Auto Express, ‘If they identify a manufacturing defect with the bodywork, we will work with the customer to ensure a satisfactory solution.’

 

Can you sense it? Blood is boiling. Firstly a rejection is a rejection. Not an offer to repair the fault. The supplier, in this case, Nissan Finance, has one opportunity to put the problem right – only if you agree to it. Jennifer has rejected the car so a quick inspection should have been carried out which would have obviously shown that there was a colour difference. Rejection accepted!

 

What has a ‘manufacturing defect’ got to do with anything? That’s for the manufacturer to identify and correct if they need to change their procedures, nothing to do with the car rejection. This whole situation is getting out of control.

 

When the rejection was rejected the customer should have immediately contacted her local trading standards office and the Financial Ombudsman and made a formal complaint. It’s an example of a dealer and their linked finance provider sticking two fingers up to your legal rights.

 

My advice to all is to take out legal cover when you take out your car insurance and make sure that you are covered for such circumstances. A couple of letters from lawyers will soon sort things out! By Graham Hill

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MOT About To Go Through Major Changes

Friday, 2. February 2018

On the 20th May this year new rules come into play. Special attention is being paid to diesel cars and new defect categories will come into force. New categories will be Minor, Major and Dangerous. Major and Dangerous will cause the car to fail the test. Cars with Minor defects will be allowed to pass but the faults will be recorded on the MOT certificate and online MOT record in the same way as ‘advisories’ are at the moment.

 

The new tighter rules have been put in place to stop those driving older diesel cars with particulate filters from having the casing opened and the filter removed rather than replace it. In future, if a diesel car, fitted with a particulate filter (DPF) emits ‘visible smoke of any colour’, during the metered tests will be given a ‘Major Fault’ and will fail their MOT.

 

Testers will also need to check the DPF canisters more carefully and if there is evidence of them being opened and re-welded, removed completely or otherwise tampered with the tester must refuse to test the car unless the owner can prove that it was done for ‘legitimate reasons such as filter cleaning.’

 

The changes have been brought in by the EU with the categories Major, Minor and Dangerous being applied, in future, to all cars across the EU. The wording of MOT certificates will be altered to reflect the changes. Unlike the current scheme if faults are found that could show that the driver is driving a dangerous car or in breach of the Road Traffic Act he could be prosecuted. That should produce a few headlines!

 

Some believe that the new rules will create even more confusion. For example, if a steering box had a leak it would be regarded as a minor problem and the car would pass its MOT. However, if the leak from the box is enough to be dripping that would lead to the fault being regarded as a major fault and result in a failure – really!!

 

There are mixed views regarding the new categories. My view is that they are not workable as there will be no consistency between MOT centres as testers take a different view to each fault they find. What may be Minor to one could be dangerous to another. We will see. By Graham Hill

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Top Ten Breakdown Service Callouts

Friday, 2. February 2018

According to What Car these are the top ten reasons why drivers call out breakdown services (in 2016)

 

  1. Battery (433,964)
  2. Puncture (328,863)
  3. Alternator (65,118)
  4. Engine (63,870)
  5. Clutch (57,153)
  6. Starter Motor (48,910)
  7. Engine Control Unit (34,756)
  8. Ignition Coil (29,287)
  9. Gearbox (20,789)
  10. Contaminated Diesel (19,711)

 

Very few of the above can be fixed at the side of the road so you would need to make sure that the cover you have is sufficient. Most new car policies that come with the car for either the first year or sometimes 3 years plus will be quite a good cover but some may only recover you to the nearest garage if you breakdown so check that. On the other hand your car insurance may cover you for a hire car so no need to include it in the breakdown policy.

 

Check the policies to make sure that you are sufficiently covered. Some policies will cover you in any car in which you are travelling so make sure that you are aware in case a friend’s or relative’s car breaks down and they don’t have a membership of a breakdown service whilst you are in the car.

 

Oh and make sure you have the number of the breakdown service in your phone, you don’t want to be fumbling about for the number when you break down in the middle of the night. By Graham Hill

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Are You Properly Insured When You Test Drive A Used Car?

Friday, 26. January 2018

When a used car dealer buys a car he either buys it at auction, takes it in part exchange or buys it from one of many other sources. As a registered trader he simply advises the DVLA that he is now the owner and has the car up for sale. Thus avoiding another owner in the log book (V5C). All good so far.

 

As a result of this he must keep the car off the road and when driven on the public highway he needs trade plates. The trade plates identify the dealer and also prove that he has Trader Insurance. As a result he can use the car for his own trips but predominantly the trade plates are used when a customer takes the car for a test drive.

 

A little like having fully comp insurance with the ‘any driver’ clause. But, unlike a domestic policy that generally only covers other drivers for Third Party Only the trader policy covers all drivers fully comp.

 

Now here’s the thing, a firm of lawyers has found that under the Road Vehicle (Registration & Licencing) Regulations 2002 a dealer who has held a car in stock for more than 3 months i.e. the three months period of grace, he or the company must register the car in their name (PART 4, Regulation 24).

 

This means, according to the lawyers who picked this up, that the dealer can no longer use the trade plates on the car once registered in their name, they must tax the car and insure it independently. It could also have a more sinister consequence.

 

Once the car has been owned for more than 3 months as a ‘stock car’ very few dealers are aware that they must buy the car so continue to take potential buyers out on test drives using their trade plates. As the DVLA would consider that the car was illegally on the road, after the 3 months period, unless registered, it could render the traders insurance void.

 

So you could be on a test drive, have an accident, and either be uninsured, or if you have fully comp on your own car, your own insurance may take over. However, you will only be covered for possibly third party with potentially a massive excess to pay.

 

Worse still I understand that many fully comp policies no longer include any cover at all when driving any car other than your own unless requested at the time of taking out the policy.

 

With over 8 million used cars changing hands each year there must be many car dealers carrying stock over 3 months old. Ask the question when you go for a test drive. By Graham Hill

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Up To Date Information On The Use & Fitting Of Baby Seats

Thursday, 1. June 2017

It’s been a while since I mentioned baby and child seats. As designs and rules have moved on since I last talked about them I thought it would be a good idea to bring things up to date. High street store suppliers now make sure that they send staff on IOSH courses to qualify them to discuss requirements with customers. Mothercare sends out mystery shoppers to assess the quality of advice given by staff.

 

Seat manufacturer Britax provide training for retailers to enable them to fit car seats properly. The most frequent problem is that parents move the child up to a larger seat too soon. This was a major finding by What Car in which 36% of children were found to be too small for the seat whilst a very small number were still in seats that were too small for them. What Car has listed 10 checks that you should carry out to protect your youngster as follows:

 

Is your child too small or large for the seat? If in doubt seek advice of an expert.

 

If the seat is secured by the car’s seatbelt make sure that it isn’t twisted and that it is fitted tightly enough around the child seat. It should be tight enough not to move if you push it.

 

When moving from wearing thick winter clothes to thinner summer clothes make sure you adjust the harness so that it isn’t too loose. Pinch the harness in front of the child’s collarbone and if you can pinch a lot of fabric between your fingers the belt is too loose.

 

If you’ve adjusted the seat’s headrest because your child has grown ensure the harness has been correctly routed back into place.

 

If using a travel system seat with a carry handle, don’t forget to put it back to the correct position after putting your child in the seat.

 

If using an Isofix seat, check that it is correctly clipped in. Indicators will change from red to green on the seat when fitted correctly.

 

If using a seat with a leg support check that the leg is fitted firmly to the car’s floor, that it’s at a 90 degree angle to the floor and that it’s not resting on an underfloor storage department unless this has been filled with a car manufacturer approved filler.

 

If using a seat with a top tether, ensure that it is routed over the back of the seat and clipped into the correct mounting point, not a luggage hook.

 

Don’t secure a high back booster with the car’s head rest: this needs to be moved out of the way so the child seat sits flush with the car seatback.

 

If you’re using a seat that is suitable for a wide age range, check it regularly for wear and tear; don’t just assume that it will stay safe for many years.

One final piece of research showed that babies should be kept as flat as possible as long as possible so avoid long journeys during which the baby is angled at 45 degrees. If it is necessary make frequent stops and lay them flat as often as possible.

By Graham Hill

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Having An Early MOT Test Could Lead To A £2,500 Fine

Friday, 26. May 2017

Some people think that having an MOT test proves that a car is in good condition and without faults. This of course isn’t true so if you are buying a used car you should have a full inspection carried out on the car rather than just an MOT. Also if you have an MOT coming up and you want to know the likely ‘damage’ you should ask for a pre-MOT check rather than having an actual MOT carried out.

 

The reason for mentioning this is that if you have a car MOT tested and it fails this is recorded on the DVSA register as a failure. Scrapcarcomparison.co.uk has warned that some drivers have had their cars MOT tested long before the MOT is due, failed the test but believed that it is still OK to drive the car till the old MOT has run out. This isn’t true and not only is it dangerous it is also illegal.

 

Driving a car that isn’t roadworthy is not only dangerous and illegal it can also invalidate your insurance and if the police pick it up via their ANPR cameras it can lead to a fine of £2,500, a driving ban as well as 3 points on the licence. Last year 36.8% of cars failed their MOT tests on the first attempt with over 2.4 million cars requiring fixes before passing. So remember, if your car fails an MOT test at any time you can only continue to drive the car if it is on the way to be repaired (proof required) or to a pre-arranged MOT test appointment. By Graham Hill

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Don’t Get Ripped Off By Foreign Rental Companies When Travelling Abroad

Thursday, 13. April 2017

As Easter is nearly upon us I thought I would share something I read with you in the event you are travelling abroad and may be renting a car. I read that a chap was in France and needed to rent a car. He was handed the keys of a diesel and whilst they can sound a bit rough when diesel cars initially start up, they generally settle down and, after a while, sound from the outside as well as the inside, no different to a petrol car.

However, in this case, as the engine warmed up it got progressively noisier and as the driver knew a thing or two about cars he identified, quite quickly, that the car had been miss-fuelled. He took the car back to the rental company and swapped it for another car but it was what he was told by the major rental company rep. that was a little worrying.

He explained that as most rental companies have mixed fleets of diesels and petrols it was quite easy for a non French speaking client to top the car up with the wrong fuel whilst rushing to get to hand the car back before catching their plane home. But it was suggested that some unscrupulous rental companies were handing over cars that they knew to be miss-fuelled.

Then when you returned with the car arguing that the client must have miss-fuelled the car and charging their credit card with the cost of repair as it ‘wasn’t covered by the insurance’. The suggestion was that they wouldn’t repair the car, simply keep it to one side waiting for the next sucker.

So if this is the case make sure you use recognised, well established, rental companies with plenty of on-line recommendations. Make sure that the insurance policy covers miss-fuelling, run the engine for a short while and if the noise on startup gets worse within 5 minutes reject the car and ask for a replacement. Oh and of course, whichever country you are visiting, get to know the words for petrol and diesel. By Graham Hill

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What To Do When Your Car On HP or PCP Is Faulty

Friday, 24. March 2017

For years I have been advising customers, SME’s and consumers in general about their rights regarding the purchase and finance of vehicles and what to do when things go wrong. You buy a vehicle and finance it on HP. In these circumstances there has always been an obligation on both the supplier (the dealer) and the provider of the finance as the transaction is regarded to be a ‘linked transaction’.

This made both parties jointly liable if a car that you bought subsequently displayed a fault that could be proven to have existed when the car was sold to you. This doesn’t just apply to cars, it applies to any other goods that you buy this way. However, had you ignored the dealer and complained to the lender in the first instance he would normally direct you, quite incorrectly, back to the dealer ‘as he supplied the car so is liable’.

I’ve even had rows with very senior members of staff at HP companies pointing out that the rights of the customer are exactly the same whether dealing with the finance provider or the dealer who supplied the goods. In fact as we now learn from the Financial Ombudsman it is the finance company who should put matters right. More of that in a moment.

But for most people this is where it starts to get strange because let’s say that the car was advertised as having 6 forward gears and when you bought the car the spec. of the car showed 6 forward gears and even the salesman explained that the car had 6 forward gears but when the car was delivered you find that it only has 5.

The car can be rejected as ‘not as described’ but the HP company is as liable as the dealer even though he was not party to the negotiations. Strange but true – but this isn’t the end. According to one law firm some of the confusion has now been clarified – or has it? According to them there is a very clear process. The car is inspected and agreed upon by the consumer prior to the purchase. In turn he agrees to take out HP or PCP and the car is invoiced to the lender.

The lender now owns the car and the transaction between the lender and the dealer is a commercial transaction and doesn’t fall within the rules of the new Consumer Rights Act. As a consumer your rights within the Act are now between you and the lender. If the goods are faulty, not fit for purpose or not as described you have a case – only against the lender. So if you take up the case against the lender don’t be pushed back to the supplying dealer. That is the lender’s problem – not yours.

 

As most lenders are very keen to get the case off their desk they are unwinding the finance and taking back the car then forcing the dealer to take the car back from them and refund to them the price paid under threat of withdrawing their credit facilities. The firm of lawyers is suggesting that the dealers start to fight back, no doubt earning the firm of solicitors fees. This won’t affect you as you have already returned the car, had the finance unwound and had your money refunded.

They are also suggesting to dealers to prevent the situation from happening in the first place by explaining to the customer something along the lines of, ‘We think highly of our customers and our cars so if you have any problems within the first 6 months of having the car please let us know and we will do our best to resolve the situation to everyone’s satisfaction’. Not strictly the law but can avoid losing heavily by having to take the car back from a sympathetic lender. Know your legal rights and don’t be afraid to exercise them.

A couple of final points from the Financial Ombudsman Service from their website:

Where the dealer offers you a ‘Fixed Sum Loan’ that is linked to your car purchase this is covered by section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act making the dealer and the lender jointly and severally liable:

For fixed-sum loans, it is because the transaction is covered by section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act 1974.

However, if you take out a loan separately from a bank or building society you are not covered by section 75. It has to be a transaction linked to the car at the point of sale.

Surprising to many, a Hire Purchase agreement does not fall inside section 75, here is what the FOS says:

Hire purchase agreements are consumer credit contracts that give the consumer the right – but not the obligation – to buy the goods at the end of the hire purchase term. Section 75 does not apply to hire purchase.

However, with so much confusion, the FOS will consider all claims from consumers for faulty goods, not fit for purpose or not as described. From my experiences the FOS will go to great lengths to lend a sympathetic ear to consumers and they don’t cost you anything. At the end of the process you can still sue the company concerned, especially if you feel that severe damages should be awarded. The FOS is restricted as to how much compensation it can award. By Graham Hill

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Huge Increase In Detection Of Mobile Telephone Use Whilst Driving

Friday, 10. February 2017

In an earlier blog I talked about speeding and the crackdown on those considered to be a serious speeder with the imposition of increased fines. Well not only are we seeing a crackdown on speeding offences but also distractions, in particular mobile phones.

 

In an exercise that involved 36 police forces last November they stopped 10,012 cars and detected 8,000 mobile phone offences. 7,800 fixed penalty notices were issued along with several  hundred verbal warnings and 68 court summons. In an earlier campaign in May 2016, 2,418 cars were stopped with 2,323 mobile phone offences detected.

 

When asked about the increase the National Police Chief’s Council (NPCC) explained that 6 more forces took part in the November campaign with more resources being dedicated to carrying out the roadside operation, especially by the Metropolitan Police. A further week long campaign was started in January 2017 the results of which are as yet unknown.

 

The exercise is a difficult one for the police as it is difficult for officers to differentiate between someone using a mobile rather than scratching an ear or nose or just raising a hand. But even so they managed to detect a frighteningly large number of offenders, many of whom weren’t aware of the increased fine and points as of 1st March 2017 (£200 spot fine and 6 points).

 

The NPCC said that outside these purges they are managing to detect more offenders as a result of new tactics and innovation employed, along with intelligence provided by the public, with particular success in catching repeat offenders. It would seem that this is something that the police will be doing on a regular basis following demands made by the public.

 

Whilst other distractions were detected such as eating crisps and chocolate and drinking from a bottle whilst driving they only amounted to 1.4% of the sample. So the police will continue to concentrate on mobile phone users whilst driving. You have been warned. By Graham Hill

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Calls To Disclose Active Medical Conditions Could Save Lives

Friday, 10. February 2017

Failing to disclose an active medical condition can not only result in a serious accident but also a prison sentence. This happened recently when a woman fell asleep at the wheel as a result of suffering from obstructive sleep apnoea, a condition that isn’t uncommon.

 

Having fallen asleep her car crossed to the other side of the road and hit an oncoming car head on causing the death of the other driver. After pleading guilty to causing death by dangerous driving and the court finding out that she had been diagnosed the condition 2 years earlier she was clearly heading for prison.

 

As soon as she had been diagnosed with the condition that could affect her driving she should have immediately informed the DVLA but of course this has raised the issue of when should the DVLA be advised and by whom. Whilst there may be a list of conditions that you must report if you have them I certainly don’t know them other than eyesight.

 

So should it be the responsibility of the GP already under pressure to treat lots of sick people in his waiting room? And even if a driver is diagnosed with a condition that should result in immediate confiscation of their driving licence there is an obvious incentive not to advise the DVLA knowing that they would have to submit their licence.

 

But the risks to their lives, the lives of passengers and other road users are too great to ignore this situation. The current procedures are a mess. Once a driver has been diagnosed with or believes they have a condition that could prevent them from driving they must apply for an independent assessment from a doctor in order to obtain the doctor’s approval.

 

But the DVLA doesn’t require evidence of this and the driver is allowed to continue driving pending the assessment. Road safety charity Brake have been assessing some of the safety issues and have so far come up with a recommendation for drivers to have an eye test before taking their driving test and a minimum of every 10 years thereafter.

 

It’s a start but far too weak in my opinion. In the meantime, having been the victim of a driver falling asleep in a car approaching and drifting across the road in front of me, I can tell you that it’s a scary experience. I mounted a dirt bank and avoided an accident with miraculously not even any damage to my car, but it could all have ended much much worse!

 

Be vigilant, you never know when you will need to take avoiding action. And if you are suffering a dangerous condition get checked out, it could save several lives. By Graham Hill

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