If you’re a second-hand car owner, this used car scandal could see you being paid out hundreds of pounds worth.
Second-car buyers may be entitled to damages if they weren’t told their car was previously owned by a rental firm after a new ruling by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA).
The watchdog ruled dealer must now, disclose a car’s full history before selling – including whether it has been used for hire, lease or fleet purposes. This has been written into law, so there are no “loopholes” for second-hand car dealers to use.
Campaigners say hundreds of previously mis-sold people could now be owed money, especially in relation to ex-rental vehicles.
Law firm Harcus Sinclair said the damages awarded to buyers could be anything from 25 to 100 percent of the car’s value.
What’s new then?
Under the new ASA guidelines, dealers must now make it clear to buyers in adverts for ex-rental cars rather than when asked about it.
The campaign claims that drivers who have previously fallen victim to the lack of transparency could have a “viable case” for compensation.
So if the seller forgot to tell the buyer a car was used by a rental firm or business, they could be eligible for a claim.
Keeping key details from the buyer breaks the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations (2008) and the amount due depends on how serious the case is and how much it influenced the purchase decision.
So under these rules, what’s not allowed?
Damon Parker, head of litigation at law firm 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 car magazine Auto Express took on the case of a reader who complained about two Alfa Romeo adverts.
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.”
Which has prompted Alfa’s parent company, Fiat Chrysler, to change its online system to highlight the correct history. Now the rest of the industry is having to 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.
A spokesman for the Used Car Scandal campaign said: “Failing to disclose and actively concealing such material information to consumers to enable them to make an informed decision in relation to the purchase of a big-ticket item, vehicles in this instance is a criminal offence and a breach of the consumer protection from unfair trading regulations 2008 (CPR’s) and is a breach of the misrepresentation Act 1967, and is likely to become the next big mis-selling scandal.”
So how do you check if you were mis-sold?
If your current car is a secondhand model and you bought it from an approved dealer, you may want to double check your vehicle’s history.
You can find out if you have been mis-sold by following the Used Car Scandal campaign’s guidelines or by reverting back to the dealer you purchased the car from.
If in doubt, you can contact the DVLA who may be able to share further information on the vehicle’s history.
It’s worth a look.