The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) is offering new guidance for dealers to help them comply with consumer protection legislation. UK consumers buy 3.6 million used cars from dealers a year, spending £24 billion but lose an estimated £85 million per year in connection with used car buying issues, including clocking and disclosing vehicle histories.
The new OFT guidance and checklist aims to help dealers comply with two important pieces of consumer protection legislation. The first is the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008, which ban unfair commercial practices towards consumers. The second is the Sale of Goods Act 1979, which governs dealers’ legal obligations to consumers with regard to the quality, fitness and description of the vehicle being sold and the consumer’s rights to redress when something goes wrong.
The OFT recommends dealers conduct a vehicle history check to ensure a vehicle isn’t on outstanding finance, stolen or written-off. Dealers are also advised by the OFT to avoid mileage disclaimers and ask that they conduct a check from an ‘independent and reliable’ company.
“The OFT guidelines clearly require dealers to complete proper vehicle checks before displaying a vehicle for sale and what’s more to advise the customer of any findings,” says Alan Bishop, Industry Relations Director for HPI. “Not doing so will substantially increase a dealer’s risk of breaching the Consumer Protection Regulations (CPRs). Simply telling the consumer that a check has been made does not remove the risk of a breach and disclaimers cannot substitute for proper and fully completed checks.”
“Dealers are urged to provide a short summary report on the status of the vehicle for sale, including information consumers need to make an informed choice. The good news is that the HPI Check does all this for you and by downloading an HPI Certificate dealers can easily display the results on the vehicle for sale. With HPI dealers can sell their stock with confidence, knowing that they are complying with the latest best practice requirements.”
Heather Clayton, Senior Director of the OFT’s Consumer Group, said: ‘We hope that this guidance will improve business practices in the second-hand car market and lead to fewer complaints from consumers. Tackling unfair practices in the second-hand car market is an OFT enforcement priority, and we will continue to work with local authority Trading Standards to take action against dealers engaging in sharp practices.’