Happy 1st Birthday to the Consumer Rights Act Part 2

Whilst we at Lawgistics have been successful in helping dealers fight off consumers with unreasonable expectations since the introduction of the Consumer Rights Act 2015, we are still seeing a number of cases whereby finance companies are rolling over to consumer demands in the expectation that our dealers will reimburse them. This continues to be a problem as some finance companies either don’t appreciate the details of the Act or just prefer to take the easy option of refunding a customer on the basis they expect a dealer to cover their losses.

In many cases, we can help broker a deal but for those finance companies who persist in taking the matter to court, we are yet to be on the losing side which we hope would push those finance companies who continue to choose the easy option at the detriment of our dealers, that they perhaps need to review their in-house approach.

For example, one of our dealers was in court last week against a sub prime finance company who had refunded a customer his £1995 for his 10 year old, 130,000 miles vehicle. The customer had reported an issue with the gearbox which our client checked themselves and also had checked by a gearbox specialist. No fault was found but the customer continued to complain (we believe as he had changed jobs and no longer needed a car and so wanted a way of backing out of the deal). As an extra attempt to ease any concerns of the customer, our client booked the vehicle in with another gearbox specialist and advised that if there was a fault, then it would be repaired under warranty. The customer never took the car to the booked appointment and the next thing our dealer knew, was that the finance company had made a refund and had written to ask them to hand over the £1995 they had paid out to the customer.  Note they made no deduction for usage and so essentially gifted the customer free use of a car for 3 months.

The finance company didn’t bother to get an independent report, they just accepted a few notes from Halfords which did little more than state that the customer had reported a gearbox issue.

As we advised our dealer that the finance company had no case, there was no negotiation and this led to the finance company putting the vehicle into auction. The vehicle sold but after auction commission and fees, the proceeds were minus £300. Yes it cost the finance company over £300 to put the vehicle through the auction. And, this wasn’t the first time this particular finance company had been left with a loss after an auction. You guessed the next bit, they issued a claim against our client for the amount of the refund plus their £300 losses. We advised our client on a defence and some months later, they won in court.  

It was a good result and indeed the right result and one which we hope will make the finance company re-assess how they deal with customer complaints and the position of dealers going forward. 

Lawgistics members can get advice on the CRA 2015, how it affects them and how to better operate within the legislation.
 

Authors: Nona Bowkis

Published: 13 Oct 2016

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