“Write off” Car Dealer Clocked by Trading Standards

By on 18/08/2010 in News

A used car dealer who falsely advertised previously damaged and “clocked” cars has been sentenced at Birmingham Crown Court, following an investigation by Trading Standards at Birmingham City Council.

Peter Robinson (47) of The Hurst, Hollywood, was charged with 2 offences relating to cars offered for sale at the Ford Kar Centre, Unit 9, Stephens Industrial Estate, 635 Warwick Road, Tyseley.

Mr Robinson received a fine of £3,015 (£750 per offence plus £1500 costs and a victim surcharge of £15).

The first charge involved being a motor car dealer engaged in a commercial practice which was misleading, giving false information as regards to the characteristics of a product, namely a Ford Focus motor vehicle, by stating in an advert on a used car website that its mileage reading was 61,000 miles, when in fact the said vehicle had travelled in excess of 142,000 miles.

The second charge involved being a motor car dealer engaged in a commercial practice which was a misleading omission by failing to include material information in an advert on a used car website, namely that a Ford Focus motor vehicle, had been previously damaged, which caused or was likely to cause an average consumer to make a transactional decision that they would not have otherwise taken.

Robinson claimed that he thought including the phrase “V car” in the advert was self explanatory that the car had previously been damaged, but the District Judge dismissed this claim as “complete nonsense” in court. The term 'V car' is used to describe the vehicle condition alert register, which records cars that have been subject to an insurance total loss claim (or “write off”).

Councillor Neil Eustace, Chair of the Public Protection Committee at Birmingham City Council, said:

“Consumers should be extremely careful when purchasing a used car, especially if a deal seems too good to be true.

We advise checking the car details out before you buy, by putting the registration number into both the HPI mileage check website and the VOSA MOT history check website.”

ENDS

For more information please contact Hayley Meachin on 0121 303 1271/ 07920 750007  hayley.meachin@birmingham.gov.uk

Note to Editors

The case is a first for Birmingham, and possibly the country, following the introduction of the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 (CPR 2008), which came into force in May 2008. 

The legislation introduced the notion of an offence by ‘omission’, in contrast to its predecessor, the Trade Description Act 1968, which primarily involved ‘making a statement’.

Trading Standards at Birmingham City Council had advised trader Peter Robinson on numerous occasions that in the department’s view, the sole use of ‘on v car’ was insufficient to convey to the public at large the vehicle’s history that it had been subject of an insurance claim through an accident or being stolen etc, and may be in breach of the CPR 2008.

The trader insisted that everyone knew what v car meant and he would not be changing anything, but later tried to use a glossary on a well known used car website which lists the meanings of all the abbreviations in its magazine and on its website, i.e., E/W (electric windows).

The department felt this wasn’t enough and that the number of complaints received against the company had a common pattern, the buyers were generally, young inexperienced and mostly female, and they claimed that they were never informed of the vehicle’s ‘accident damaged’ origin.

The mileage issue emerged when the vehicle was sold, in its damaged state by the insurer via a salvage auction, with a damaged odometer showing 9 miles. When the complainants bought the vehicle, the odometer showed 42 miles, but Peter Robinson had advertised it as 61,000 miles. Mr Robinson admitted that he had made no checks to verify the true mileage, failed to disclaim this fact on the vehicle, despite advertising it as 61,000 miles. In such a situation, in order to avoid falling foul of consumer protection legislation, traders should be able to demonstrate that they took all reasonable steps to verify the description applied, which Mr Robinson had not done.

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  1. Kavan Hawker says:

    This is excellent to see criminals like this being caught and punished; they are a danger to the public, put families, children and elderly people’s lives at risk.

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