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

Thursday, 1. June 2017

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.

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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Misunderstandings about MOT Tests & New Changes

Friday, 10. February 2017

MOT tests do not prove that a car has no faults. On many occasions I have written about this issue and explained how buyers have been handed a brand new MOT certificate with their used car as proof that the car is faultless. Most safety items are checked along with emissions but it won’t reveal that a car has an oil leak or any other mechanical fault unless it falls within the scope of the test.

 

A full mechanical check on the car should confirm if the car has a faulty gearbox or engine or any other potentially expensive faults. Having said that the scope of the MOT test is extending annually to include new technology which also means that examiners are expected to take an annual, online, test. However, it has been revealed that just 35% of MOT testers have taken their test with just up to the end of March to pass.

 

Following which the testers will put their licence in jeopardy. The question is does this put drivers at risk if the MOT tester isn’t up to speed with the latest requirements? The Driver and Vehicle Standards Authority (DVSA) thinks not as they have announced that the examiners will be treated leniently this year, as this is the first year of change and the online examinations, but a tougher approach will be taken in future if examiners don’t conform to the new rules. Concerns have been raised regarding driverless cars.

 

Development in this sector is gaining traction but concerns have been expressed by various bodies regarding the preparation, or rather the lack of it, when it comes to the safety testing and MOT test criteria in relation to autonomous cars fitted with extra sensors and complex electronics. The Department for Transport simply says that work in this area is ‘under review’. Finally on the subject of MOT testing the Department for Transport has finally launched its proposals to extend the first MOT test from 3 years to 4 years.

 

The consultation paper recommends that the initial MOT test for cars and motorcycles be extended to 4 years from 2018 saving motorists more than £100 million annually. Transport Minister Andrew Jones (no I haven’t heard of him either) suggested that our roads are some of the safest in the world and vehicles are much safer than they were 50 years ago when the MOT test was set at 3 years.

 

Personally I would suggest that we need to see how many cars fail their first MOT at 3 years before deciding if we can extend to 4 years. Strange that wasn’t mentioned. By Graham Hill

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Quieter Cars Lead To More Accidents

Tuesday, 17. January 2017

One of the great things about new cars is the quietness of them. Improved car design reduces wind resistance and wind noise. Drive a diesel car and you could be mistaken into believing that diesel engines no longer rattle, they do, but because the soundproofing is of such a high standard now, you can hardly hear the engine from inside the car.

Tyre compounds and new suspension systems reduce road noise dramatically and of course hybrids and full electric vehicles are as quiet as a mouse when operating in electric mode. The problem is that many of the changes have come about very quickly so when a driver moves from a 3 year old car to a new car the noise level drops so significantly that he or she loses all perception of speed.

The main indicators such as engine noise, road and wind noise have been all but eliminated in some cars so the fear of many safety experts is that we will see a significant increase in accidents and/or speeding tickets as a result of speeding. Having read about the latest Tesla challenging Faraday Future FF91 capable of developing over 1000 bhp out of its electric engine taking it from 0 – 60 in 2.39 seconds without making a noise, I’m very worried.

Even petrol and diesel engine’d cars pose a threat to safety. So if I or anyone else has convinced you to ditch your 5 year old car for a brand new model make sure that you acclimatise yourself to the noise levels before you start ‘opening her up’ on an A road or motorway. You don’t want to be writing your new car and/or you off in the first few weeks of taking delivery! By Graham Hill

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Pre-registered Cars vs Ex-demonstrators

Tuesday, 17. January 2017

Over the near 30 years that I have been in this industry I have seen and done many things, seen some of the most crooked activities carried out by dealers, brokers and car supermarkets, amongst others, as well as fraudulent attempts to acquire cars by crooked customers.

For many years I was an expert witness for the Crown Prosecution Service in cases of vehicle and asset finance fraud so I’ve seen most things crooked that go on in the automotive industry, some of them revolving around so called pre-registered cars and ex demonstrators.

Whilst I won’t bore you with all the fraudulent things I’ve witnessed, you’ll have to buy my upcoming book for that, I’ll share a couple of things with you as I’ve had a couple of potential clients who have recently avoided contract hiring a new car in favour of a so called pre-registered car or an ex demonstrator on HP or PCP.

First of all I should point out that it is possible to get a good deal on an ex demonstrator but it’s the luck of the draw and I’ll explain why. But let’s start with ‘pre-registered’ cars. First of all let’s be quite clear, there is no such thing as a pre-registered car in the way that it is advertised by dealers. Even the head of CAP HPI refers to pre-registered cars when referring to cars that are registered then sold when they include huge discounts. The pre-registering of highly discounted cars is an illegal act made illegal by Stephen Byers when he was Labour Trade Secretary in 2000.

He was concerned that the practice carried out by manufacturers who forced their franchised dealers to buy cars, albeit at heavily discounted prices, was skewing the new car registration figures. So as part of his Supply of New Cars Order 2000 it was made illegal to pre-register cars, here is the excerpt:

This order was made under the monopoly provisions of the Fair Trading Act 1973. It prevents new car suppliers from:

  • discriminating on price between dealers and fleet buyers
  • providing bonuses and discounts to dealers on pre-registered cars
  • imposing on dealers restrictions on price advertising

Now let me be clear, dealers can pre-register cars but not as a result of increased incentives applied by the manufacturer on individual cars. However, some dealers and manufacturers have found a way around this. As an incentive and across the board, a dealer will be set a sales target for the month/quarter/year and he will be paid a Volume Related Bonus (VRB) by the manufacturer if he can achieve the target.

This money is paid retrospectively on all cars sold during the month, quarter or year. As the bonus is not specifically on the ‘pre-registered’ cars they kind of get around the regulations. As an example let’s say the dealer is offered a VRB of £2,000 per car provided he hits his target of 100 cars for the month. With a few days to go he has sold 90 cars and he is aware that if he doesn’t sell the 100 he will lose £200,000 VRB.

So in order to hit his target he pre-registers the 10 cars in the name of the dealership and pays his normal purchase price for the cars – keeps him onside with the Supply of New Car Order. He now factors in the £2,000 per car that he will receive as additional discount then adds in the normal discount that he would include in the deal making the car a cheap car.

I’ve heard of some dealers preregistering cars and selling them through auction just to recover a reasonable proportion of the money spent out rather than have the cars sitting on their forecourt. Whilst the above may sound like pre-registered cars are a great idea there are other, far more shady, methods used to heavily discount cars and sell as new cars even though they have already been registered. Some, not all, car supermarkets have been known to use this method as well as some dealers.

The cars are diverted from where they were intended – daily rental companies, driving schools or insurance company/bodyshop courtesy cars. When supplying cars to these companies the manufacturer uses part of his marketing budget to heavily discount cars that either get them seen on the road more or are driven by potential buyers. In my experience a daily rental company can buy cars at up to 45% off the list price with 20 – 25% being very common.

In order to get around the Supply of New Car Order dealers started to set up their own daily rental companies and bought their ‘pre-registered’ cars through the new operation at huge discounts then sell them on to buyers, having never put them out on hire, with just delivery miles on the clock, on big discounts as ‘pre-registered’. Nothing wrong with that. Of course the extra name in the log book will affect the resale value of the car – but only marginally. But this is where the 3 month rule comes in.

If you have ever bought a pre-reg. car you will sometimes be told that you won’t receive the V5 log book until after 3 months. This is because in order for a daily rental company to qualify for the extra discount they (normally) have to keep the car for a minimum of 3 months or say 5,000 miles, whichever comes first. Now if the manufacturer wants to carry out an audit the dealer needs to be able to show the auditor that he still has the car.

Whilst he may argue that the car is out on hire, so can’t be inspected, he can produce the copy of the V5, supposedly proving that he still has the car, and everyone is happy. Again, whilst this is shady, is this something that a buyer should worry about? There are also some dealers who will keep the cars in stock for 3 months to avoid this situation. But here’s the crunch. Remember that I said these cars were intended for daily rental companies and they are then supposed to be sold as used cars after 3 months?

Well, many years ago I became involved in this process. Before realising exactly what was going on, I had been arranging stocking finance for wholesalers who would arrange to buy batches of brand new cars from daily rental companies and sell on to car supermarkets for a small profit, similar procedure to the operation following the Stephen Byers order.

This allowed the car supermarkets to sell new cars at less than main dealers could buy them for. The daily rental company would order say 100 cars that would be funded by the wholesaler. The cars would be diverted, at the time of delivery, to the wholesaler who would pay the daily rental company £100 per car for their trouble – they never actually saw the cars.

However, as the cars were intended for daily rental I had calls from dealers, and one comes to mind, who would say that the manufacturer had produced a batch of cars using up old stock of parts, for sale to daily rental companies. In this particular case the interior trim was lower grade, items were missing in the car such as cup holders and front fog lights were missing, all part of the standard spec. of the model badge on the back of the car.

In return the dealer knocked off £250 per car. The wholesaler agreed but do you think he explained this to the supermarkets who were selling these cars as brand new but pre-registered cars? Of course not! It would be fine to sell the cars in their sub spec. condition to the daily rental company who were supposed to rent them out.

A customer is hardly likely to refuse a rental car because the interior trim didn’t match the manufacturer’s brochure for the model he was hiring. And of course they were to be sold as used cars at the end of the 3 months or when they had covered 5,000 miles so the buyer would be buying not a new car but a used car as seen.

There is another way that you can achieve a big discount on a ‘pre-registered’ car. When there is a new model coming out or a facelift on the current model the dealers need to make way for the new model and get rid of the old model cars so he practically sells them at cost but they don’t always tell you about the new model.

I’ve also heard of cars turning up at the customer’s house only to find that he has bought or leased an old model car when he thought he was buying the new model. So check the spec. very carefully if you are going to buy a pre-registered car – it may not turn out to be what you thought you were buying. Oh and some of the cheap lease deals are cars as illustrated above so make sure that you check the spec. meticulously.

You sometimes get what you pay for. Moving on to ex-demonstrators. There are two points to be made here. First is the discount. Demonstrators are taken by dealers not just to demonstrate the basic car. They will often have a mass of options fitted, clearly so that they can be demonstrated to potential customers.

So when they tell you that they will knock 8 grand off the list price of the car that’s the list price including the options that may still make this used car, having had multiple drivers, more expensive than the brand new car with the standard spec. which is what you were originally looking for.

Their trick is to compare the cost of the demo with the full list price of the new standard car – but you’d not have paid full list on the new car in the first place. Balance up the desire of the options and the fact that the car is used against a new car without the options and with a discount. Secondly we have perception.

When you call into a dealership and take a demonstrator out with a nice salesman beside you, toodling along at 30 mph you believe that this is the way that all ex-demonstrators have been treated. Well, let me correct that perception. Many years ago in industry as general manager in one of the UK’s most successful PLC’s, I had a fleet department report into me, responsible for around 700 vehicles.

With a fleet that size we were signed into the manufacturers’ demonstrator programmes which meant that every day transporters of brand new cars would turn up, with virtually every make of car on board, that we would have on loan for anything up to 3 months, often 2-4 weeks. I would allow our sales and service staff to use these cars. As they weren’t their own company car they would proceed to ‘burn rubber’ out of our depot and treat the cars like rallycross cars till they were returned.

As we didn’t own the cars I wasn’t worried but at that point I thought to myself I will never ever buy an ex demonstrator as I know how many of them are treated. Oh and often dealer sales staff get to use the demonstrators for personal use and I’ve seen the way they drive them away from the dealership so I strongly recommend that you give ex-demonstrators a very wide berth or you may end up spending more time waiting for repairs to be carried out than actually driving the car! By Graham Hill

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Warranties, Guarantees And The 2 Year EU Guarantee Rule

Tuesday, 20. December 2016

As things stand at the moment whilst we are still members of the EU, a 2 year guarantee is your minimum right on anything you buy. National rules in your own country may give you extra protection, however, any deviation  from the EU rules can only happen if it is in the consumer’s best interest.
If goods you bought anywhere in the EU (any of the 28 member states, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway) turn out to be faulty or do not look or work as advertised, the seller must repair or replace them free of charge or give you a price reduction or a full refund. This does not apply to items purchased from an individual.
According to Your Europe you might not be entitled to a refund if the problem is minor, such as a scratch on a CD case or damaged packaging. I would argue that if say a bottle of perfume was purchased as a gift then the packaging is part of the product and the whole item should be replaced or money paid back.
In this country we now have the Consumer Rights Act that strengthens the consumer’s position as you have the right to reject a faulty item within 1 month of purchase and demand your money back. After 1 month and up to 6 months after receiving the goods, if a fault occurs that appears to be a fault that existed when you bought the goods you simply need to prove to the seller that a fault exists.
He has one opportunity to attempt to repair the fault, after which he must return your money if the fault remains. After 6 months and up to 6 years the onus is on the consumer to show that a fault existed at the time of purchase through maybe an independent inspection. I cover this in more detail elsewhere in this book.
Every member state has a European Consumer Centre that can help with difficulties if you have a problem with goods supplied by another EU country. They can also help with complaints against UK companies when consumers are supplied with goods that are faulty or do not look or work as advertised. You can find them here:
In the UK shops and producers tend to offer an additional commercial guarantee (also referred to as a warranty), either included in the price of the product or at an additional cost. The rule here is that it must give you the same or better protection than the EU 2 year Guarantee. It can never replace or reduce the rights you have in law.
The fascinating thing here is that the EU rules cover items bought as used (excluding purchases from a private individual). So let’s say you bought a used car from a dealer who offered the usual 3 month or 6 month warranty. If the car develops a fault that can be identified as being on the car when purchased, any time up to 2 years after the day you took delivery, you have a claim under EU law. The warranty cannot replace your legal rights only enhance them.
In another example that easily explains your position let’s say you bought a kettle with a 6 months sellers guarantee. It breaks after 8 months and you take it back to the shop. The shop assistant explains that the guarantee has run out so you are not entitled to a refund. You can point out that under EU law the shop guarantee is provided as ‘additional services’ and that the EU law covers you for 2 years. In point of fact you are also covered by the Consumer Rights Act but under our law the onus is on the buyer to prove that the fault pre-existed. Not difficult to prove as the expected life of a kettle must be in excess of 5 years.
HUGE REVELATION: Now here is a very important point that illustrates the 2 year rule. If you visit the VW website they explain, better than most, your position with their new car warranty. I should add at this stage that the 2 year rule does not discriminate against useage. So the 2 year guarantee covers you whether you cover 8,000 miles PA or 100,000 miles PA, the guarantee is time related. Back to VW. When you take a new VW you will be told that the warranty lasts for 3 years or 60,000 miles. But here’s the truth, and it applies to all cars purchased in the UK and across the EU, the first two years warranty is unlimited miles but you only get the third year cover provided you are still under 60,000 miles. Here is an extract from their site:
All new Volkswagen passenger cars purchased from an Authorised Retailer in the United Kingdom qualify for a 3 year vehicle warranty consisting of a 2 year/unlimited mileage warranty and a 3rd year warranty with a 60,000 mile limitation.
The chances are that you and many taxi drivers were totally unaware of this fact!
In some EU countries the buyer and seller can agree a guarantee period of less than 2 years but that must be fully understood by both parties and cannot be less than 12 months. I will be covering warranties in greater detail elsewhere in this book as there are various types and levels of cover. And I have a revelation regarding Manufacturer Warranties that will possibly shock you.

 

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