Law Firms Advising Car Dealers To Act Illegally

Sunday, 20. September 2015

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As the 1st October gets closer, the date when the Consumer Rights Act 2015 comes into force, I see a lot of activity between law firms and car dealers to ensure that dealers are prepared for the changes and potential costs as the consumer’s position is strengthened.

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What the lawyers don’t realise is that I have my spies all over the place and one thing that always gets my back up is when it is revealed to me that lawyers play on consumer’s ignorance to avoid the law and protect their dealer customers. Of course I, in turn, feel it is my duty to reveal this disgusting behaviour.

Consumers are on fairly solid ground if a seller of any goods tries to contract you out of your statutory rights, which seems to be what lawyers suggest car dealers do to protect themselves. The Unfair Terms In Consumer Contracts Act 1999 and the Unfair Contract Terms Act 1977 have both been incorporated into the new Consumer Rights Act and protect the consumer if the car dealer gets you to sign an agreement that either imposes unfair conditions on you or attempts to opt you out of your statutory rights.
The problem is that most consumers don’t know their legal rights so when a lawyer enters terms into a dealer client’s Contract of Sale many consumers believe they are stuck with them – but they aren’t. The latest con relates to the confusion that has existed for years around the purchase of a used car that is faulty. You take it back and the dealer, under the old rules, has the right to repair it, but it still has the fault. He tries again, still no joy and so it goes on.
You still had the right to reject the goods but if the contract, that you signed, says you haven’t, where do you stand? The good news is that the law has been toughened up and all consumers now have the right to reject a car within 30 days of purchase if it is faulty or not fit for purpose. No questions – it is the law. Well it will be on the 1st October.
The law also states that a refund should be given ‘without undue delay, and in any event within 14 days beginning with the day on which the trader agrees that the consumer is entitled to a refund.’ OK, now whilst I may have a little sympathy with the dealer this can only be done if the vehicle is faulty or not fit for purpose, in other words if the car has, for example, a knocking gearbox as you drive the car down the road a few days after purchase, or if the dealer says you can tow your luxury caravan without a problem only to find that the towing capacity is not high enough, so not fit for purpose.
The problem for the dealer is that he needs to give a refund within 14 days but he also needs to send the log book off and get it returned by the DVLA so that he can sell it again and this can take several weeks. So one particular law firm suggests to dealers to include in their terms and conditions or on their sales invoice a term that says that the customer is not entitled to a refund until they have received back the logbook from the DVLA.
According to this law firm it will ease the pressure of having to give a refund until they have possession of the logbook from the DVLA. They even go so far as to say that this would avoid having to give a refund until 14 days after the logbook has been returned from the DVLA. So let me get this straight as to what these assholes (the beauty of having control over content means I can say what I want) are suggesting. A dad or maybe young mum, who has sold their old car and collected their new car, now finds that the car they bought has a fault.
They exercise their legal right to return the goods and demand a refund but these despicable lawyers are suggesting that the dealer points to a term in his Sales Contract that says that they don’t need to give a refund until the logbook has been returned by the DVLA. Who is to say when it is received back, they could hang this out for weeks? But worse is that what they are suggesting is, in  my opinion, illegal and certainly immoral.
The innocent customer is now without a car for weeks through no fault of his own when the people at fault, the dealer, is sitting on the customer’s money. Shame on these lawyers. In another piece of worrying advice they are fiddling with the distance selling rules. Let me explain. Lets say you see an advert on a dealer’s website or advertised online or in a magazine/paper and you call the dealer to find out more.
You like the look or sound of the car but need to travel to see it so you give a holding deposit over the phone to hold the car till you can get there. If you don’t like the car, no problems you are entitled to your money back. But let’s say you get there and like the car and pay the balance to own it. That my friend is still a distance sale which means you have 14 days to return it and get your money back, no ifs, no buts.
Not only that but there are rules and regulations that apply to the placing of adverts such as a proper description of the goods, information on their trading premises, address and phone number etc. If the dealer omits anything from his advert it can give consumer customers up to a year to cancel, not just 14 days. But getting back to the normal position, the indisputable rule says that if a car dealer takes a deposit over the phone or online at a distance BEFORE the customer has physically seen the car the sale is considered to be a distance sale.
The only exception to this relates to goods that have been customised or tailor made. The worrying thing for the car dealer is that a consumer, following a distance purchase has 14 days to reject the goods, he then has 14 days to expect the refund but has a further 14 days to return the goods after cancellation.  As I always say to people make sure that you take out legal cover when you take out car insurance, it will pay for itself many times over if you ever find yourself at the receiving end of any of the above. Graham Hill


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Ford Motor Company of Argentina

Image via Wikipedia

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