Consumer Rights Act & Related Rights

Tuesday, 26. July 2016

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.

I have read on many lawyer’s web sites that following the biggest change to the all inclusive Consumer Rights Act 2015, the ability to return goods that do not conform to the conditions laid down in the new Act, that consumers have confused this with the terms of the Distance Selling Act.

The new Consumer Rights Act replaces many old acts such as the Sale of Goods Act (last revision 2006) Unfair Terms In Consumer Regulations and the Supply of Goods & Services Act along with other minor acts. But not totally as I will explain in a moment.

In the new act you have 30 days, during which, if the goods are, in simple terms, Faulty, Not As Described or Unfit For Purpose you can claim a refund. You don’t have to give the seller the opportunity to repair the item and you certainly don’t need to go to court to claim your money back.

A word with your local Trading Standards Office or Citizen’s Advice Bureau should do the trick. If you choose the Court route you will probably be offered the free Small Claims Court Mediation Service once the other party has filed a defence. Well worth considering.

 

First let me deal with the confusion. You have 30 days to return goods or claim on services that do not meet the conditions of the Consumer Rights Act and claim your money back. Not to be confused with the 14 days you have under the Distance Selling Act when you buy goods or services that you haven’t been able to inspect before paying for them.

In this case you have the right to return goods to the seller within 14 days and claim your money back simply because you don’t like the colour or design of the goods whereas items returned under the Consumer Rights Act must be faulty, not as described or not fit for purpose.

But cases have been going to small claims courts citing the Consumer Rights Act when the consumer didn’t have a leg to stand on because he simply didn’t want the goods after getting them home. So don’t be confused, you can’t return goods under the Consumer Rights Act just because you changed your mind.

 

30 Day, 6 Month & 6 Year Rules: The 30 day rule is the period during which you can simply ask for your money back if the goods or service don’t conform to the Consumer Rights Act. You can allow the seller to repair or replace the goods but if you allow for a repair and it doesn’t fix the fault you still have the right to claim your money back.

And the onus is not on you to prove that the goods or service are in breach of the Consumer Rights Act it is down to the supplier to prove that they aren’t. This brings me to the 6 month rule. You must allow the supplier to remedy the fault with a repair or replacement after 30 days but within 6 months.

Again, you don’t have to prove that the fault existed when you bought the goods the supplier must prove that it didn’t. After 6 months but up to 6 years you can still exercise your rights if the Consumer Rights Act has been breached but after 6 months the onus is on you to prove that the fault existed.

 

Car Warranty: I think that it is worth mentioning at this point your legal position when it comes to a faulty car and its manufacturer’s warranty. Apologies if you have read this before as it is something that I bang on about quite regularly. Most new cars come with a transferable 3 year warranty, some more but most with 3 years.

Whenever you read a complaint in the National press, specialist motoring press or popular blogs about a car fault the warranty is considered to be the ultimate redress when things go wrong. It isn’t, it is there to add to the customers’ legal protection but just because the warranty ends on the car it doesn’t mean that the car falls off a cliff and every part on the car is expected to fail.

Outside of fair wear and tear I would expect most components on a car to last at least 8 years of average mileage provided the car has been properly serviced. The ultimate redress is not the warranty, it is legislation, in this case the Consumer Rights Act.

So when a major item such as a gearbox goes faulty after 3 years and 1 month and the manufacturer refuses to accept liability as you are now outside the warranty revert to your rights within the Consumer Rights Act and take the dealer and the manufacturer to court.

 

What is a Consumer?: The Consumer Credit Act 2006 defines an individual to include a sole trader, small partnership (3 partners or less) or an unincorporated association. As I understand it (and I have read conflicting information) the Consumer Rights Act defines a consumer as  “an individual acting for purposes that are wholly or mainly outside that individual’s trade, business, craft or profession”.

Not sure how you would determine how much of the use of a laptop computer is for business and how much for personal use. But I have seen suggestions that the ‘spirit’ of the CRA should also apply to SME’s so whilst they may not have the same statutory right of rejection within the first 30 days a court may use as a test of reasonableness the terms laid down in the CRA. The situation is made even more unclear by the scope of control exercised by the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS).

The FOS deals with complaints from consumers relating to Finance and Insurance Products with consumers being defined as above by the Consumer Credit Act. Now the CCA completely ignores ‘Unincorporated Associations’, i.e. Limited Companies but if you go onto the FOS website you will see that they also offer their services to Micro Enterprises as defined by the EU, which is a business that employs less than 10 people and a turnover or balance sheet net worth of less than 2 million Euros. And of course this can apply to limited companies So where is the consistency?

 

Financial Ombudsman Service: The little understood fact is that the FOS acts outside the law. It will use the law as its basis for coming to a ruling, which is legally binding on both sides, but the Ombudsman will consider such common sense things such as ‘was the customer treated fairly?’

The FOS can make an emotional decision compared to a judge who must base his decision on the letter of the law so I always recommend that you consider the FOS before court action. And bear in mind you don’t have to accept the FOS ruling, you can still exercise your right to go to court. And whilst you may run a Micro Enterprise and your complaint would normally fall outside the CCA you can still make your complaint to the FOS and you will be listened to.

By Graham Hill

Graham Hill Reveals The Power Of The Unfair Trading Regulations

Friday, 11. March 2016

In a recent newsletter I promised to reveal the power of some regulations that few consumers are aware of and many providers of goods to consumers abuse. They are called the Unfair Trading Regulations (2008). They regulates 5 main categories of potential unfair business practices. Additionally in 2014 amendments were made to the regulations that gave consumers greater rights of redress.
More specifically if the consumer was the subject of misleading action, i.e. if a false statement was made by the seller or if he used aggressive selling techniques, he was entitled to take the following action: 1. Undo the contract, 2. Insist on a discount on the price paid, 3. Seek damages. So this legislation is quite tough. In the case of cars here are the five main categories of potential unfair business practices:
1.    Giving false information either verbally, visually or in writing, for example if the vehicle’s specification is misrepresented and/or its service history, length of MOT, mileage, number of previous owners etc. at any time either before, during or after the transaction.
2.    Giving too little information, omitting or hiding important information. e.g. having a check carried out on the vehicles mechanical condition but failing to mention the check and the results. Failing to mention the results of any history and mileage checks or (and this is a good one) failing to draw the customer’s attention to key elements of any warranty, for example what the warranty covers, the claims limits, excess and conditions of use.
3.    Acting aggressively e.g. using high pressure selling techniques to sell the vehicle, finance or warranty.
4.    This is a good old English law statement ‘Failing to act in accordance with reasonable expectations of what’s acceptable.’ No I don’t know either!
5.    There is a ban of 31 specific practices, no I won’t list them all just a few important ones such as falsely claiming to be a signatory to a Code of Practice, falsely claiming to be approved, endorsed or authorised by a public or private body. And here is a great one: falsely stating that a vehicle will only be available for a very limited time in order to elicit an immediate decision to buy.
I have illustrated the law as it applies to vehicles but they are equally applicable to anything you buy. Be it a TV, three piece suite etc. Now I bet you didn’t know that? By Graham Hill

Are Warranties Worth The Paper They Are Written On?

Friday, 26. February 2016

Here’s an interesting dilemma. Customer buys a new car, it could be any car but in this case it’s a VW Golf. The car is fitted with Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) and Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB) which basically stops you from accidentally running up the bum of the car in front.

As the car was in Ireland the costs are in Euros which I have conveniently converted to Sterling to save you checking exchange rates and grabbing your calculator. I’m like that! Anyway, the driver’s ACC warning light lit up on the dashboard. No I wouldn’t know either!

The light surprised him as nothing had happened other than the fact that he was driving the car normally. Off he toodled to the main dealer who said that the system was damaged, possibly from an impact. The cost to replace the ACC was going to be £1,145 and as it was the result of an impact the replacement would not be covered by the warranty.

As he hadn’t had an impact and as he had managed to safely drive a car for many years without this latest gadgetry he asked the dealer to simply disable it. The driver, Ben Smith, was told that the dealer couldn’t disable the set-up and because it was a serious road safety issue they wouldn’t let him drive the car away without signing a consent form. This is when it gets interesting.

He had the car towed away for an alternative inspection by an independent garage as he felt he was being forced into having work done that may not be necessary. He was shocked to learn that, according to the independent inspection, no damage had been caused to the unit, instead the report, according to Auto Express who saw the report, found that three sensor bracket sensor nuts had come loose, causing messages to appear.

The report also claimed that the bracket VW claimed had been broken was not the one found in the car. The fix cost Ben £46. OK one would assume that the dealer was trying it on and that they would apologise and Ben would continue driving his car in the knowledge that he won’t accidentally ram the car in front. But no! Auto Express contacted VW who explained that a mount was found to be broken (not according to the independent garage) as well as a cracked camera.

Not mentioned by the independent examiner. Of the independent fix VW said ‘Without repairing the vehicle as per manufacturer guidelines and calibration of the ACC system after replacement, (it wasn’t replaced by the way), the repair hasn’t brought the vehicle back to manufacturer specification. VW cannot guarantee that the vehicle will operate as the manufacturer intended.’ This implies that Ben could lose his warranty cover because he didn’t pay to have a repair carried out that wasn’t needed in the first place.

That is frightening but what wasn’t mentioned in the piece was the Government backed arbitration service called Motorcodes. This is what they say on their website: Motor Codes is the government-backed, self-regulatory body for the motor industry. Its voluntary membership of thousands of garages is committed to maintaining high standards covering new cars, the administration of new car warranties and car service and repair.

So as always I am providing more information than a major motoring magazine. If Ben gets in touch with Motorcodes they will have to look into his complaint and will give a legally binding ruling. The web address of Motorcodes is: http://www.motorcodes.co.uk/ By Graham Hill

Problems With Your Car – Know Your Legal Rights

Saturday, 15. March 2014

Something else I write about far too often is warranty claims. Dealers continue to let down customers and drivers know too little about their legal rights and don’t do things that would help their case. A lady had a Toyota that she bought second hand but found shortly after that the alarm constantly and randomly went off whilst parked on her drive.

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She returned the car whilst covered by the warranty but the dealer couldn’t replicate the problem so refused to accept that one existed. The problem continued and the car was returned, still no joy as the dealer effectively called the lady a liar.

The fact is that I have an extremely small amount of sympathy for the dealer as faults can often be intermittent so with modern technology why didn’t the lady take a video of the car with the alarm going off to show that it happened.

Or take a letter from a neighbour explaining that the alarm continued to sound without anyone touching the car so at least she can speak with some authority. My sympathy ended when I read that the dealer refused to continue checking the car for the fault after the warranty ran out.

As I have said time and again your legal rights don’t end the day your warranty runs out. Alarms should function properly for the life of the car so if it is faulty when you buy the car from a dealer there is something wrong with it and the supplying dealer needs to fix it or give you your money back. If you are not satisfied get the manufacturer involved and also advise the Office of Fair Trading.

In the case of the lady with the Toyota the manufacturer arranged to have the car looked at and turn down the sensitivity level on the alarm which fixed the problem. Unbelievable! The manufacturer needs to address the incompetence of its franchised dealer. The good news is that I am now working closely with several manufacturers  as a consultant and this is an area that will be addressed as part of my shake up of the industry. By Graham Hill

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Isn’t It About Time That Blogs Were Regulated?

Wednesday, 8. January 2014

New moan started, a few years ago a journalist with about as much knowledge about all things financial as a garden fork started a blog. In fact it was started about the same time as I started mine.

The difference was that I didn’t allow every John Henry and his mate to post things on my blog, unlike my charismatic friend. If anyone wanted to post anything on my blog I would mediate and if what they wanted to post was incorrect or simply trying to sell their pet insurance policy I would trash it.

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On the other hand many other blogs would allow complete (but often well intentioned) doughnuts to express opinions online which others would then take as absolute gospel. For example I have seen someone desperate because they are facing a £1,500 charge to repair a PAS pump, 3 weeks after the manufacturer’s warranty has run out on his car, seeking advice because he’d been told the repair was outside the warranty and therefore fully chargeable.

As you know from postings on my blog this isn’t unusual. In this case the car had only covered 15,000 miles but some numbnuts said, oh dear, sadly as you are outside the warranty there is nothing you can do, chat to your bank manager and arrange a loan. Which is what the poor sod did!! So this ill informed do-gooder just cost the driver with the problem £1,500.

The truth is that under the Sale of Goods Act the driver had a legitimate claim against the supplying dealer as the goods have to be as described, fit for purpose and of satisfactory quality. The ABS pump should last as long as the car, at least 8 years, so the dealer should make at least some contribution towards the cost of repair as the item concerned would appear to not be of satisfactory quality.

Oh and notice I said dealer and not manufacturer, the claim is against the company that sold you the goods, not the manufacturer. It’s up to the dealer to seek compensation from the manufacturer. This is just one of many pieces of advice given by ignorant subscribers with no legal knowledge whatsoever.

Sometimes on this and other blogs the advice has been accurate at the time it was given in say 2009 but the law has since changed and the advice is now wrong. So if you are one of those people that searches through blogs for accurate information, tread very carefully, the advice you follow could cost you a fortune.

It’s about time that blogs were properly policed before too many people catch a serious cold. 2nd moan over! By Graham Hill

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Servicing Can Affect Your Warranty

Tuesday, 10. April 2012

I’ve mentioned on several occasions that you are able to have your car serviced at a non franchised dealer but you have to be extra careful about warranty claims as manufacturers will try to squirm out of them. A recent case involved Ford and a young lady with a 4 year old Ford Ka. She suddenly found that the car had developed rust Read more

Warranty Vs Legal Rights – Do You Know The Difference?

Saturday, 15. October 2011

As most of my readers know there are some things that cause me to shout, scream and throw things out of my pram, one of which is when dealers or manufacturers try to mislead customers. Especially so when the manufacturer refuses to take responsibility when customers exercise their legal rights. This often happens when a customer makes a claim Read more

Reminder About EU Rules Relating To Car Servicing

Wednesday, 5. October 2011

Auto Express recently reminded us that since the changes to European Regulation 461/2010 (Motor Vehicle Block Exemption) you can have your car serviced at an independent garage and provided they carry out all work in accordance with the rules set down by the manufacturer your warranty will be honoured. That is fine and I totally Read more

Car Warranties And Non Dealer Parts

Friday, 30. September 2011

Most people know that they can now have their cars and commercials serviced and maintained at no franchised garages and still retain the warranty on the vehicle. However, I have always suggested that customers who choose to have servicing carried out by non franchised dealers ask the garage to use manufacturer own parts. I say this as I don’t Read more

Do New Cars Have A Run-In Period?

Sunday, 14. August 2011

Virtually every car I provide is new so I’m often asked what is the ‘run in period?’ This won’t mean much to my younger readers and enthusiastic followers of my musings but this was a practice that car manufacturers insisted upon to ensure that your car lasted beyond its one year warranty and you didn’t end up driving a car with an engine that Read more