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A recent ruling by the Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) against Glyn Hopkin Ltd and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles UK Ltd has highlighted the issue of dealers selling ex fleet and former rental vehicles that have been used by multiple users.
The action was taken on the grounds that customers were not informed of the vehicle history, especially in the adverts and the internet, and this could have swayed their decision to buy.
The issue of disclosing the source and previous users of a vehicle has arisen since the Consumer Protection Regulations 2008 (CPRs) came into force and subsequent guidance on selling used cars was promoted by the Office of Fair Trading (OFT). The CPRs prohibit a number of practices such as omitting to disclose information and include anything that is misleading or aggressive in nature. These practices are outlawed as they could influence a customer’s decision to buy either pre, during or post sale.
In the case of Glyn Hopkin, the failure to disclose that a vehicle was ex-fleet with multiple users was an omission of information that could have influenced a customer’s decision to buy a car.
In light of the ruling, dealers need to be aware of their obligations under the CPRs. It is important when selling a vehicle that as much information as possible about the car is disclosed and that this information is verified. It is also important not to make any misleading statements about a vehicle such as claiming the vehicle has had a full mechanical check when it has not.
Dealers can protect themselves from prosecution by carrying out ‘due diligence’ on a vehicle. Due diligence includes:
You should keep a note of any checks as evidence they have been undertaken. It is also good practice to ensure that you have a complaints system in place in case of a dispute.
Failure to deal with a dispute promptly can also be an infringement of the CPRs.
The CPRs also apply to all sales to consumers, however, the definition of ‘consumer’ is fairly vague. A small business or a tradesperson may be defined as a consumer if buying a vehicle is outside their normal business activity.
It is of vital importance for dealers to remain compliant with CPRs, that they declare as much information about a vehicle as possible. This includes information about previous usage and owners. Many dealers actively advertise and highlight ex-demonstrator vehicles but are less inclined to the same for ex-rental or other multiple user vehicles. The CPRs mean that the same disclosure is needed to all if it is likely to impact a customer’s decision.
If you would like to receive further guidance on the issue, please contact email@example.com.