The OFT has taken enforcement action against Carcraft, which has 11 car supermarkets across England and Wales, over concerns about its business practices when selling cars, finance and after-sale guarantees.
Following its investigation, the OFT believed that Carcraft:
Was not always properly carrying out the comprehensive pre-sale vehicle inspections it advertised, with customers complaining about vehicles suffering significant problems shortly after purchase. Did not always meet its legal obligations to repair or replace cars when cars sold were not of satisfactory quality. Did not make clear to some customers the terms of motor finance, such as the level of repayments or that they were signing more than one finance agreement. Gave some customers a misleading impression about the scope of the after-sale vehicle guarantee, or that the guarantee was free when in fact it was being charged for. Allowed some customers to drive vehicles off its premises without valid road tax.
Carcraft fully co-operated with the OFT’s investigation. Whilst the company said it believed that its business practices complied with the law, it has made changes to its practices and given undertakings about its future conduct, which address the OFT’s concerns.
Cavendish Elithorn, Senior Director of the OFT’s Goods and Consumer Group, said:
‘Car buyers often choose to purchase from a large dealer in expectation of peace of mind. Carcraft promised customers that it aimed to help them ‘find the perfect car with confidence’, but we don’t think its practices ensured that it always lived up to expectations or met its legal obligations. We welcome Carcraft’s undertakings which should ensure customers are treated fairly.
‘The industry should take note of our action against Carcraft as it shows that dealers will face enforcement action where their practices cause serious problems for consumers.’
Last year’s OFT market study into second hand car sales found that the market was often not working well for consumers. The results of that study led the OFT to warn used car dealers they must comply with the law or face enforcement action.
The OFT will shortly be launching a consumer campaign to increase awareness of consumer rights when buying a used car and where consumers can go for advice should they encounter problems after they buy.