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Second hand motor trader convicted of selling dangerous car

A used car dealer has been ordered to pay more than £9,000 after being convicted of selling a dangerous car to a Pembrokeshire consumer. 

Based in Rochdale, Lancashire, the Car Corner Ltd was convicted at Haverfordwest Magistrates Court on Wednesday 9th December, of the sale of an unsafe vehicle and other breaches of consumer protection legislation. 

Fines and costs awarded against the company totalled £9,181, which are required to be paid within 28 days.

The prosecution by Pembrokeshire County Council’s Trading Standards team, part of the authority’s Public Protection service, was instigated by a consumer complaint from a man from Letterston who had purchased a second-hand Fiat Qubo from the Rochdale garage in November 2019 after seeing it advertised online.

Having agreed the sale, the car was transported from Rochdale to Pembrokeshire but was delivered after dark, and the consumer therefore had difficulty in inspecting it. 

However the following morning, in daylight, many significant defects were apparent, and he attempted to reject the car. 

As his attempts to reject the car and receive a refund were refused, he contacted the Citizens Advice Consumer Service for advice who then notified Pembrokeshire Trading Standards. 

Due to the serious nature of the alleged safety defects, an expert witness vehicle engineer was commissioned to examine the car. In his opinion the car was in an unsafe and unroadworthy condition, and would have so been at the time of supply by The Car Corner Ltd. The vehicle also had also suffered previous accident damage which had not been disclosed by the seller and had been poorly repaired. In the expert engineer’s opinion the vehicle was beyond economic repair.

Haverfordwest Magistrates found The Car Corner Limited guilty on three charges; the supply of a dangerous car under the General Product Safety Regulations 2005, failure to disclose the previous accident damage under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Practices Regulations 2008, and ‘recklessly engaging in a commercial practice which contravened the requirements of professional diligence’ in respect of a pre-delivery inspection that had been incompletely conducted, also contravening the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Practices Regulations 2008.

The court fined the business £2,000 for each of the three offences, a total of £6,000 with an additional £3,181 in prosecution costs and victim surcharge. The business was found not guilty relating to a fourth charge relating to alleged false statements made in the online advertisement.

The consumer had already been refunded by the credit company through which he financed the car, in February this year.

This is the second case in which Car Corner Ltd has appeared in Haverfordwest Magistrates Court. In November 2019 they were convicted and ordered to pay a total of £4,600 in fines and costs following a prosecution by Pembrokeshire Trading Standards regarding a misdescribed, heavily corroded Ford Maverick that they had supplied to a Pembrokeshire consumer.

Cllr Cris Tomos, Cabinet Member for the Environment, Public Protection and the Welsh Language, said: “The penalty handed out by the court sends out a clear message to motor dealers that they must trade fairly and ensure that all cars that they offer for sale are safe and correctly described. 

“Furthermore, where they know about previous accident damage or other issues with a vehicle that may influence a consumer’s decision to purchase it, they are required legally to disclose this to potential purchasers. 

“Trading Standards Officers will continue to conduct unannounced checks at second-hand car dealers across Pembrokeshire. This case shows once again that the Trading Standards service will also take action against motor traders based outside the county who sell misdescribed or unsafe vehicles to Pembrokeshire residents.” 

Any Pembrokeshire consumer who purchases a car that they believe is unsafe or incorrectly described by a motor dealer is encouraged to report the matter to the council via the Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline on 0808 223 1133 or 0808 223 1144 for Welsh speakers. Calls from mobiles and landlines are free.