In response to complaints from consumers, undercover Trading Standards Officers visited Oaklands Cars Ltd (trading as Manor Oak Cars, Hurley Hall, Atherstone Lane, Atherstone) and purchased a vehicle costing £945. It was claimed that the vehicle had recently been serviced.
However, a Trading Standards expert vehicle examiner revealed the car was not roadworthy – in fact it wouldn’t have passed an MOT test. The braking, suspension, steering and exhaust systems were in poor condition. One headlight, one brake light and both reversing lights weren’t working. One of the tyres was below the legal minimum tread depth. Levels of engine oil, coolant and power steering and brake fluids were all low, with various fluids leaking from the engine compartment.
The garage tried to avoid consumers’ rights by giving the purchaser a ‘Trade Sale Invoice’. This stated that the vehicle was being sold “without any additional warranty or guarantee” and a “comprehensive warranty has been offered and refused”. This type of invoice might lead consumers to believe they couldn’t demand a repair or their money back when they discovered the problems with the car.
At Nuneaton Magistrates Court on September 18, Company Director Loren Davies (34) pleaded guilty to one offence under the Road Traffic Act 1988 and three offences under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008. Mr Davies also pleaded guilty to the same four offences against his company, on the company’s behalf.
In mitigation, Mr Davies said that he had now put new measures in place in relation to the vehicles he offered for sale.
Mr Davies was fined a total of £900 and the company £4,000. Full costs were awarded, making a total of £9,692.
Warwickshire County Councillor Andy Crump, Portfolio Holder for Community Safety said: “This is an excellent example of our enforcement officers protecting residents from being ripped off by unscrupulous car dealers, but even more importantly keeping them safe from unknowingly buying vehicles that put them and the county’s other road users in danger.”