Marc Gander - The Consumer Survival Handbook


A 220 page introduction to all things consumer related by our own BankFodder.

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Patricia Pearl - Small Claims Procedure - A Practical Guide


An excellent guide for the layperson in how to use the County Court - a must if you are intending to start a claim.

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  1. #1
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    Default Problem Vehicle (Brakes/Instrument etc) from Botley Car Centre Ltd, Southampton

    Ok. So I go caught. Here’s the story so far. Apologies if it’s a bit long. It does cover a few weeks’ worth. Any help gratefully accepted though if you get to the end.

    Trawled through Autotrader and saw a 2011, Silver Skoda Superb Estate 1.8 SE TSI with 63,000 miles advertised from an independent car dealer (Botley Car Centre Ltd, Grange Road, Botley, Hants, SO30 2FU, Company No. 9993409, VAT No 190 0255 90).
    The ad said that it had a panoramic sunroof and an LPG conversion and this seemed interesting.

    I contacted the dealer by phone and asked about the car.
    The information I was given which included comments on how nice it was etc. and how nice the wheels were as they (the trader) had had them “completely refurbished”. This seemed plausible and reasonable.

    I asked about the LPG, but the sales representative didn’t seem to be aware of what it was or how it worked.
    I’d discovered from research that some engines are more suited to these conversions than others and that the major conversion companies can advise from the 4 character engine code of the suitability of such a conversion.

    I duly asked for the Engine code which seemed to check out satisfactorily with (PRINS).
    I found out that the system fitted to this vehicle was actually from PRINS a major supplier of LPG vehicle systems that are generally considered among the best.
    I also found out that there is additional annual service work and safety checks required for such a system.

    I asked the dealer if there was any evidence of such a service and because it was obviously gas stored under high pressure any safety check for this vehicle.
    The dealer looked through the service history they held on the vehicle but couldn’t find anything and made a call to Alternatech, the main UK importer who also happens to be in Southampton.
    He then said that the vehicle would be sent over to them for its gas service.
    All seemed good at this point.

    On 13/05/2018 I paid a deposit via a halifaxicon Bank MasterCard to hold the vehicle with a view to going down from London to view it first-hand, but unfortunately, I couldn’t get down there quickly.

    The dealer said, it wasn’t a big problem and that they’d deliver the vehicle for free.
    I could look it over and decide.
    They said that “with more than 70 quality cars on site it would actually help them out a bit with storage”.

    They said along with other sales, ‘flannel’ that they wanted their customers to be completely satisfied, that they would ‘stand by’ the car and that they would provide a “Six Months Driver Warranty”.

    They said that they thought I would be delighted with the car and if not their driver would bring it back.
    Things still seemed good at this point and I agreed a delivery date of 24/05/2018 in the early afternoon with them.

    I transferred the balance of the money by bank transfer on 23/05/2018 for a full purchase price of £7394 which appeared reasonable and was shown as just slightly below average on CarGuru for car like this. (Don't say it.)

    On 24th at 1:30 I got an email to say, “Good afternoon the drivers are on the way they are running a bit late kind regards xxx”
    The rest of the day passed and no car arrived.

    I sent an email the next morning asking what the situation was and explaining that I was unavailable until after midday.
    I made 4 calls to the dealer that were unanswered.

    Possibly a red herring, but, when I called from a different phone the sales rep picked up.
    He was apologetic and said that the driver had returned after getting to London because the Air-con had stopped working and that they wanted the car to be right, so it would be fixed before being delivered.
    He promised Tuesday 29/05/2018.
    I was obviously a bit concerned, but things can go wrong and on balance I still felt ok about the situation.

    29/05/2018.
    No update.
    I called the dealer who said that a seal had been replaced and the car was all good and they would deliver the next day (30/05/2018).
    I explained that I had somethings booked for the afternoon/eve and would only be available until 4p.m.
    They said the car would be delivered early afternoon.

    On 30/05/2018 they delivered the car, but later in the day (14:50) than originally expected.
    I gave a quick visual inspection, checked the a/c, which was working.

    Ran their driver to the local Rail Station, car seemed to drive ok on the short distance, then took the car back home and put it in the garage.
    Pulling away and manoeuvring the vehicle I stalled it a couple of times which didn’t feel right, but I put it down to not being familiar with it and having previously driven a diesel with a much heavier clutch.

    Being a tight wad and not wanting Her Majesty’s to get even richer through taxes, I left it in the garage until Friday 01/06.
    Trotted off to the Post Office and had a nightmare with the counter staff over a change in taxation class as previously it was tax exempt as “disabled” (Someone may be able to comment on this aspect.

    Note:
    (1) There is no sign of any adaptation to the vehicle controls which may be a good or bad sign I don’t know.
    (2) this aspect of the vehicle tax class and the need to tax only at a PO was not revealed to me by the dealer before the car was delivered)
    The counter staff couldn’t cope with the dual fuel/ LPG which wasn’t correctly shown on the V5C.

    In the end I gave up with the PO worker (Who is apparently the Manager) and just taxed it with the intention of sorting it out directly with DVLA later.
    (However… the saga of the road tax continues later).

    So, someone may criticise (or shop me..) for driving the vehicle without road tax, because technically, when the dealer’s driver got out at the rail station and took the trade plates with him, I was without tax.

    It’s a fair cop officer, but have a heart. It’s just a half mile back to home and I claim ‘de minimis’ verses all the other stuff that goes on out there.
    (Of course we can’t say have a heart officer any more as it’s ANPR).

    01/06 take car for first proper run to the Norfolk Coast with the family.
    Car feels a little bit ‘gutless’ at times, but I haven’t driven another of the same spec so go with it.
    It has a slight sort of hesitancy, but not too significant, possibly a misfire.
    I thought, see how it goes and investigate later.

    After enjoying an hour on the cruise control at 60 the car suffered from a grabbing sort of judder through the steering and a pull to the left.
    I pulled over to discover a problem on the near side front brake with excessive heat and brake dust – A binding calliper.
    (I know there can be other reasons for this symptom, but in any event it’s not right)

    I let the brakes cool off a while and continued at a reduced speed.
    (The Mrs and kids were not amused).

    As it became dark I noticed that the instrument backlights didn’t work properly and the speedo could not be properly read when the car was between 30 and 120.

    Monday 04/06 I called the dealer and explained the problems and a few minor niggles. We agreed that because it was a long way back to Southampton that I would have the problems assessed/investigated and report back to them.

    You can skip over the detail of the faults if you want

    Faults:
    Engine:
    After doing my own investigation and finding a German (VW\AUDI etc) specialist that would diagnose cheaply, we determined that the PCV on top of the engine was at fault and I was quoted £180 to have this repaired.

    I later spoke with the service manager of an Authorised Skoda dealership who confirmed the weakness in this component, that it was a likely cause, but said that it may not completely resolve the problem.

    Brakes: Three garages (who did a free brake check) said that the N/S/F calliper needed replacing along with discs & pads. Circa £500.

    Instrument lights:
    Where are the old days when you could scrape your knuckles with a hand up under the dash and change a 3w bulb?
    The official line (and apparently this is common on a whole raft of vehicles) is that the LEDs are not serviceable and so the instrument cluster must be replaced and re-programmed to work with the EMU at a cost of £1450. (No typoicon here).

    On further investigation there are Automotive specialist who will repair these lights and even offer a lifetime guaranty on their repair for as long as you own the car at just £140.
    (In discussion I offered the dealer the possibility of taking the vehicle to such, but see later).

    Interestingly, this seems to be a bit of an MOT anomaly.
    The interior illumination is considered a minor, but inability to properly determine the vehicle speed is a major and a failure.

    So, during the day, if you don’t go under any bridges or underpasses or tunnels you’re ok.
    At night over 30mph you’re not legal.
    How could this possibly be considered of satisfactory quality by a reasonable person or fit for purpose?

    Further faults:
    I thought I’d properly check the vehicle over myself in light of the above.
    Trying to remove the road wheels was not possible with standard tools.

    I hand to resort to a ¾” drive socket set and a 6ft extension because the wheel bolts were “gunned up” to a ridiculous torque.
    Fortunately, I got the bolts undone without further damage.

    However, I found that 6 of the 20 bolts were of the wrong profile and so did not seat properly in the wheel even at a stupid amount of torque.
    I have now tried to refer this through to trading standards due to the danger it poses as in the event of an accident the wheel fixing would not behave mechanically as designed.
    Difficult to prove etc. but I’ve passed the info on anyhow.

    Getting one of the wheels off revealed a dent in the inner ridge of the wheel and putting it on a balance machine shows that it is clearly out of true.
    The “Refurbished” paint is over and on top of the damage.

    As this is on the inside of the wheel it’s impossible to see without taking the wheel off.
    It is also the case that the buckled wheel would have been obvious to whomever balanced the wheels after the so called refurbishment.
    Incidentally, the wheels, are a different size to the advertisement, so technically the goods are not as described.

    The suspension/dampers and bodywork have suffered, but probably a bit more so than you might expect.
    My previous 17 year old Ford (not generally renowned for good bodywork) showed similar levels of surface corrosion.
    The rear dampers are shot, well it is 7 years old I suppose.

    The central locking has developed a mind of its own and doors randomly remain locked and need more than one attempt to unlock.
    Apparently, if it’s the mechanism in the door, once it fails to open at all, then you have to chisel the door open to fix it.
    If it’s the central control unit it’s less traumatic but more costly.

    Panoramic Sunroof:
    This worked well first thing in the morning when it was cold, but when the temperature climbed above 25C it started to judder and get stuck.
    In all honesty this appears to be of poor basic design and is apparently a not uncommon.

    The Skoda Service staff said they had replaced two the same week under warranty.
    The car body is steel, the sunroof frame aluminium alloy and there is apparently a plastic filler between the two.
    Heat causes different expansion rates in the different materials and the frame warps.
    This results in a failure of the sliding mechanism and often generates cracks between the components with resultant ingress of water (we haven’t had much rain since June so I have no idea whether there’s any leak on this car.

    On the 20/06/2018 the A/c failed again. So, unfortunately when it gets hot you can’t open the roof or use the a/c.

    Before the naysayers proclaim well what do you expect of a second hand motor.
    There are other problems and I was prepared to work with the dealer to find the most economical route to resolving some of these as I actually quite liked the car and the gas system seemed to work fine and would, I’m sure have proved to be a bonus in the long run.

    The bill of sale/Sales Invoice says,
    “Botley Car Centre Driver Warranty Six Months”.
    The sales ad and their Website says, “All vehicles come with a parts and labour warranty”

    Their website prominently displays “WMS Group Warranty” and “Standard & Extendible warranties” WMS Group Award-winning car warranty cover to protect you from expensive repair bills.”

    So I called them up and explained that there were quite a few things that I though needed attention and as they hadn’t given me any written particulars of their warranty (Contrary I believe to the 2008 Consumer Protection From Unfair Tradingicon Regulations)
    I wanted to know where I stood.

    At this point I got some stalling tactics about the company director going away.
    I explained that I was hopeful that we could work something out otherwise I would have to consider my right under the CRAicon 2015.

    I checked the dates and let it run a few more day.
    I sent an email to the director explaining the faults and added photographic and video evidence of the major faults and independent garage assessments and quotes for repair and asked where I stood with his warranty and good will.

    He replied that:
    “I’ve had a look at the recent MOT and have noticed that a couple of these items mentioned are advisory items.
    These are not mechanical failures and are therefore items not covered under the warranty.
    What we can do for you is have all the work carried out at cost.”

    I wrote back immediately, listing the faults and stating that I was exercising my short-term right to reject the vehicle under the CRAicon on all three grounds, not as advertised, unsatisfactory and unfit for purpose (any reasonable person would expect to be able to drive a vehicle legally at night) and please pay a full refund in 14 days etc.

    Craftily, the dealer had inserted a clause into his invoice stating that the purchaser accepts responsibility for return of the vehicle if statutory rights are exercised.
    I acknowledged this and said I’d return the car when the money was refunded.

    The dealer said,” We would need to see the vehicle before we can comment on anything further. Please let us know when you’re free to bring the vehicle back.”

    About this time the paper version of my rejection letter must have arrived by recorded delivery as he followed up with:
    "Thank you for your letter received 28/06/2018.

    Unfortunately, as explained twice now we need the vehicle back to go through what issues you are experiencing. We are unable to comment any further without actually diagnosing these faults beforehand.
    Please let us know when we can see the vehicle please."

    I replied that he hadn’t actually explained anything.
    That while it may be customary, Sections 20 and 22 do not give any express right to have the goods returned before the refund.

    I also explained that the guidance notes for Section 20, 118 say that
    “….if it was clear from looking at the goods that they breached the relevant requirement under the Act, there is unlikely to be any reason for the trader not to agree immediately that the consumer is entitled to a refund.

    In any case, there must be no undue delay, so the trader could not delay payment unnecessarily, for example in order to wait for time-consuming tests which are completely irrelevant.”
    (Before someone jumps to the dealers defence, he has video and photos and independent garage comment).
    I said he could see the vehicle at any time by appointment, but that I wasn't giving him the evidence before the refund.

    I think he knows full well, but I reminded him that Section 23 says that, if the consumer requires a repair, the trader must bear any necessary costs.
    I explained that the previous MOT contained two advisories one for tyre wear – which I had not mentioned at all, but which appears to have been swapped out for a second-hand\part worn Chinese tyre, (probably in contravention of The Motor Vehicle Tyres (Safety) Regulations 1994 (reg.7.)) and guess what, a binding near side front brake (so the fault was clearly present or developing at the time of sale.

    Also that a previous service report from February lists the failed instrument lights and brake issue.
    I reminded him that Section 20 (7) says the trader has a duty to refund and the consumer to make the good available for collection unless otherwise agreed.

    I said that as per my responsibility I would arrange a transporter for the car when the refund was forthcoming
    – which seems reasonable given his failure to deliver to me as agreed.

    Also that section 20 (8) says that “….the trader must bear any reasonable costs of returning them, other than any costs incurred by the consumer in returning the goods in person to the place where the consumer took physical possession of them” and how did he intend to pay the transport company?

    I also advised him that he was not the only one to give less that good service as DVLA had apparently lost the V5C and I was informed by them that it may take 6 weeks to resolve this via v890 etc. etc.

    I pointed out that one provision of contract law was to put the wronged party in the position they should have been in if the contract had been properly fulfilled. That I therefore intended to claim for all damages (mitigated) that naturally flowed from his breach of contract.

    The dealer offered to collect the car for ‘inspection and examination’ the next morning and then to come back to me.

    I referred him to my previous letters and again asked for him to honor his obligations under the CRA.

    Needless to say, I have heard nothing more and now need to fire off the N1 form via MCOL. I’ve check and can’t find any trade association or ADR info for them and obviously they’re not going to offer it.

    I have registered with MCOL and am trying the work my way through the procedure and protocols etc.
    One thing that has come to light which I don’t like is that their verbal approach was one of ‘we’re an old family business that’s been doing this for long time and we want to do it right’ and their website claims, “Local family owned business established since 1981”,
    while the legal entity at Co House says, “incorporated on 8 February 2016”.

    Clearly a misrepresentation just like the advertising of 'standard and extendible' warranty.
    I’ve registered and set a ‘follow this company’ and am glad to have retained possession of the vehicle in case they should wish to phoenix the Ltd. (although I don’t think this would be for just one car claim). BTW I’ve also started a Section 75 claim via the Bank and Mastercard.
    So next step N1 I suppose.

    One small question, there seems to be an anomalies with the address (Grange Road vs Broad Oak) and post code (SO30 2FU vs SO30 2EU) between their website/invoice and Companies Ho. Should I use the Co. Ho. details and then, ask or, send another copy to the other wording and post code or is this overkill?

    How best to value the claim in respect of damages? What about any additional or ongoing costs if this drags on for an extended time (nothing much has gone right just yet ;-})? Is it reasonable to make a provision for return transport or just leave that out as the dealer’s problem?

    I’ve seen conflicting information about which county courticon under which circumstances. How best to proceed so that I may avoid if possible a trip to a Southampton Court?

    What is the legal state of ‘ownership’ in breach of contract? I think I’ve read that the dealer has to effectively buy back the car. But if the contract is breached is it ‘cancelled’ in which case is the ownership un-done? (It’s a steep learning curve and there’s a way to go yet).

    Thanks for reading (I know I’ve learnt a bit about the CRA and the difficulties of used car purchase and maybe some of this info will help other) and thanks in advance with any help with the actual claim part

    Kind Regards,

    Apologies again of the length, but you've got most of the detail.

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  2. #2
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    Default Re: Problem Vehicle (Brakes/Instrument etc) from Botley Car Centre Ltd, Southampton

    You've clearly been sold a faulty car and the previous advisory for binding brake caliper proves that.

    Would it not be a lot easier to book a half day off work
    ,return the car to them as per the clause,

    show them the faults (or even better get written confirmation from a legitimate garage before hand)
    and get your money back as is your right?
    Court could take forever.


  3. #3
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    Default Re: Problem Vehicle (Brakes/Instrument etc) from Botley Car Centre Ltd, Southampton

    Thanks for the reply.

    If you were the dealer making such a suggestion I'd be with it 100%.
    Given the attitude and actions shown so far;
    how likely is it that the dealer will simply put his hand in his pocket and refund for the vehicle and damages?
    I suspect I could just be adding another half day and more to the damages.

    As we've seen in all sorts of places,
    "Rights" are one thing,
    getting compliance to them is sadly another.

    Also according to "Rights" I only have to push the car across the road to where it was delivered.
    The costs of transport to Southampton then fall on the dealer.

    Clauses can't be inserted to remove your statutory rights.
    If I roll up with the car on a flat bed,
    I might end up having to take it away again or be in the position of having just the court papers, no money and no asset.
    (Sorry, trust and faith all used up on this one).

    Your suggestion could be a solution offered in negotiation after the claim is raised, but I think it will just get blanked at this point.

    If I were to have written commitment to a "Russian Exchange" money and car at the border, meet half way, do the swap, then fine.

    I know the claim process will be a burden, but my gut feel is there's no choice.
    I have an Independent Engineers report in CPR35 Court ready format in the pipe that should be ready on Tuesday.
    (I've already sent him 3 pieces of written confirmation from legitimate garages.

    For information: the likes of AA vehicle inspections and independent garage assessments,
    while very good,
    don't carry the weight of a proper report.

    The cost is only slightly higher by about £20 over an AA Inspection
    - which is really a peace of mind car check and not meant for litigation)

    Thanks again for the idea though.


  4. #4
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    Default Re: Problem Vehicle (Brakes/Instrument etc) from Botley Car Centre Ltd, Southampton

    I have also discovered that Botley Car Centre Ltd. trades as http://www.bestcaroffer.co.uk/.
    Buried in the term and conditions of this site I found an apparently compliant Ref to the European Online Dispute Resolution Service/ADR.
    Apparently as of 2013 online traders are required to offer consumers a link to this site.

    The Botley Car Centre trading as Best Car Offer T&C goes on to say:
    "Please also note that we are not obliged to use ADR should you have a complaint with us.
    If you do have a complaint with us which we cannot resolve using our internal complaints handling procedures we will contact you by letter or email about whether we are prepared to submit to ADR."

    Has anyone here had an experience of this EU ODR?
    Is it a [problem], or just something that a trader has to pay lip service to?
    This seems like another indicator and potential waste of time in exploring ADR and that raising a claim is the only option.


  5. #5
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    Default Re: Problem Vehicle (Brakes/Instrument etc) from Botley Car Centre Ltd, Southampton

    Update:

    Engineer's Report Arrived:
    Important parts are:

    O2 "We would recommend the vehicle is not returned to active service use in its present state
    as this poses a potential danger to any operator and other road users."

    C1 "We would conclude that the numerous conditions evident with the vehicle would, on the
    balance of probability, have been present at the point of purchase."

    C2 "The conditions are considered the responsibility of the selling agents."

    I intend to submit this report with the S75 Claim to the Bank and ? Particulars of Claim to accompany N1 - Could someone please confirm this needs to go here, or does it get submitted later as evidence?

    Thanks in advance



Reclaim the Right Ltd. - reg.05783665 in the UK reg. office:- 923 Finchley Road London NW11 7PE
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