Citizens Advice Bureau

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LOCAL INFORMATION

13.5.0.L2
Complaints against businesses who sell cars and other vehicles 

Extent: Jersey
Updated 30 April 2015
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Words you may need to know

 

Vehicle – a vehicle is something that is mechanically driven and intended for use on a road, for example  a car, motor bike, van, lorry, tractor.

Complaint - a problem or an issue which you are unhappy about

Contract out  - to enter into an agreement that someone else will do some work for you

Defective – faulty

Business -  Dealer/ Garage  - someone selling or repairing cars or vehicles

Expiry -  when something is finished eg date the warranty finishes

Hire-purchase – where you borrow the money to pay for something and you pay instalments back to the person who you are loaning from.

Manufacturer – the company or person who made the vehicle

Warranty – a promise to fix something if it goes wrong within a period of time. Usually 1 – 3 years


Who do you need to complain to?

When you have a complaint you should first go back to the dealer where you bought the goods from. You need to give the dealer or garage in question the time and chance to put matters right. If that does not work, then the next steps are:
i) If the complaint is about a Manufacturer's warranty or is against a dealer where the problem is the Manufacturer's warranty, the address to write to is: The Legal Department, Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, 71 Great Peter Street, London SW1P 2BN

website :
www.smmt.co.uk
telephone: 020 7235 7000
 

ii) If the complaint is about a dealer or garage, who is a member of the Jersey Motor Trades
 Federation (JMTF) and it is not about the warranty, the address to write to is:

The Complaints and Arbitration Panel, Jersey Motor Trades Federation, 26 Halkett
 Street, St Helier.

website:
       www.jmtf.co.uk/               telephone:   07797 721 275

The JMTF will not want to be involved until you have given the dealer or garage  the chance to put matters right. For a list of members see 13.5.0.L5 Please note that you can’t contact the JMTF if the garage you have a problem with is not a member.

The Supply of Goods and Services [Jersey] Law 2009 sets out the rights under the law for people who buy goods or services, see 13.1.0.L1

 

Warranties

If your complaint is about a warranty, you need to read the warranty carefully and be clear  about what is covered and what is not. When you buy a second hand vehicle some bits are normally not covered by warranty. See 13.5.2. Do not go to the JMTF until you have checked that you are covered.

Some salesmen make it sound that a warranty covers more than it does. If you can prove what was said, you should be covered but the problem is in proving it.

 

Who does the work?

When buying a new car or a used car, be aware that who you are buying from may not be the person who will put things right if they go wrong. Many car salespeople contract out their repair work to others. Often showrooms have no workshop for doing repairs or work. You should check your warranty carefully and ask the question.

Any mechanical problem which happens after you have bought the vehicle should be covered by the terms of the warranty, including parts and labour, so long as the warranty has not expired. Normal wear and tear, e.g. of silencers, tyres etc are not covered, and neither are things which you should have known about when you bought the vehicle. It is up to you to check and ask questions.

 

Can the owner choose who repairs the vehicle?

If you are not happy with the standard of the repair offered under a warranty and want to take the vehicle to another mechanic or garage (perhaps, the main agent for the make of the car) this is not usually possible. If the work has been contracted out to a dealership or other garage, it might be possible to agree with who sold you the vehicle to go to a different garage, although this would be unusual.

If you are not happy with the quality of the repair, it could be helpful to get a second opinion on the condition of the vehicle from the manufacturer's main dealer, the AA or an independent engineer / assessor. Any paperwork such as quotes etc could be useful in trying to get compensation in the future, perhaps through the Petty Debts Court.

 

Time Limits

A warranty or guarantee will only last a certain time. Any repair work on the vehicle which started before the expiry of the warranty should be finished. However, it might be that parts have been ordered or are being waited for.

Real problems can arise when a major problem has been going on for a long time and has not been fixed by the date the warranty or guarantee runs out. The owner of the vehicle may say that the condition of the vehicle is not acceptable despite a lot of work having been done when the time runs out.

The Trading Standards Department say that the warranty period should be made longer if the fault(s) has not been suitably repaired by the end of the warranty period.

 

Problems that carry on

If you got a second opinion and/or reported your complaint before the end of the warranty period to your finance company (if the vehicle was bought on hire purchase), Trading Standards, or the Jersey Motor Trades Federation, it is more likely that you will be successful in claiming for any expenses in putting things right

You should tell the garage carrying out the work under the warranty in writing that unless the work is completed to a satisfactory standard, then the job will be given to another garage and the bill sent to them. A copy of the letter should be kept. 

If the vehicle is not repaired satisfactorily then you will have to have the work done by another garage and may have to go to the Petty Debts Court to recover the cost. It will depend on the evidence given by both sides as to what the Judge decides is fair. Things that will be considered are the work done and the condition of the vehicle.

It is quite likely that a garage in this situation would defend the action in order to protect  their reputation, so legal costs could be added to any court costs should you lose.

Purchase of defective vehicle

If the complaint is about buying a second-hand vehicle with problems see 13.5.2.

 

Protection for buyers of a motor vehicle still on finance

If a vehicle is bought with a loan from a finance company then until the loan is paid off, the vehicle still belongs to the finance company until the very last payment is made. If someone tried to sell you a vehicle like this they would be selling something they did not own.

If you bought the vehicle from someone without knowing it was owned by the finance company, you would have protection under the Supply of Goods and Services [Jersey] Law 2009. This law gives protection to buyers who buy vehicles that are subject to a hire-purchase or conditional sale agreement without knowing.  Ownership of the vehicle would pass legally to you and the finance company would have to get any money owed from the person who sold it to you and who took out the loan.