Misleading car history adverts in the UK could mean that millions of Britons could be entitled to a refund on used cars
Misleading car history adverts in the UK could mean that millions of Britons could be entitled to a refund on used cars.
Brits who bought an ex-rental vehicle without knowing it could be eligible to receive up to 100 per cent damages, according to lawyers.
Motorists in the UK, could be owed thousands of pounds in refunds as part of a "used car scandal". Huge compensation payouts could be looming if they bought an ex-rental car from dealers without being warned.
Cars are often advertised as having one previous owner but that owner could be a car rental company, whose car has been basically thrashed as it was part of a rental fleet.
And a recent ruling by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) now means owners have a “viable case” against used-approved dealers, according to a leading law firm.
If salesman failed to tell the buyer a car was once used by rental companies or for business use, they should be able to claim.
Dealers who omit key details are actually breaking the Consumer Protection laws in the UK under the Unfair Trading Regulations (2008) and the amount due depends on how serious the case is and how much it influenced the purchase decision. Damon Parker, head of litigation at Harcus Sinclair, said:
"The ruling confirms our position that this is a viable claim for people who find themselves misled by dealers.
"It’s difficult to put a number on how many people have been affected by this, so we will have to look on a case-by-case basis."
The ASA ruling was made after leading car magazine Auto Express took on the case of a reader who complained about two Alfa Romeo adverts.
The 'used car scandal' could stretch to millions who unknowingly bought ex-fleet cars
They were advertised as having one previous owner, but it was later discovered both were ex-fleet vehicles. The ASA ruled:
"If a dealer knew that a vehicle was ex-fleet because it had previously been used for business purposes, then that was material information likely to influence a customer’s transactional decision."
The investigation into the scandal has prompted Alfa Romeo’s parent company, Fiat Chrysler to alter its online system to flag the proper history and as a result, the rest of the industry is playing catch up. An ASA spokesman said:
"We are telling advertisers that they must include information that they do not currently always include: specifically, if a car is ex-fleet or ex-hire or similar.
The 'used car scandal' explained
- A vehicle's history is displayed on the V5C document and will list how many previous owners it has had.
- You can check a car's past before you buy it and it's always wise to check that it hasn't been written off or has outstanding finance against it.
- But even if you do that, you could still be misled into thinking the car has one owner - when in fact it's been used heavily as a rental or fleet motor.
- Dealers must now flag this up to buyers in adverts rather than only disclosing the info if they're asked.
- Brits who bought cars only to find out about the ex-fleet history could be entitled to refunds of between 25 and 100 per cent.