Issued By
West Yorkshire Trading
Standards Service

WATCHDOGS URGE CAUTION WHEN USING CAR SUPERMARKETS.  

Car supermarkets have sprung up around the country specialising in supplying imported vehicles, which they register and sell on to the public as ‘nearly new’. Many have set themselves up in direct competition to established new car dealers and have undoubtedly contributed to the re-adjustment of new car prices, following the “Rip off Britain” campaign. So far so good, however callers to the West Yorkshire Consumer Helpline have highlighted misinformation, bordering on dishonesty, and poor value for money at certain West Yorkshire car supermarkets. Examples include:

·        Registered cars falsely described as “new”

·        Only two weeks balance of manufacturer’s warranty with a vehicle described as nearly new

·        Promises of UK specification which are not fulfilled

·        Dubious advice on re-sale value

Decided legal cases have confirmed that a vehicle, which is already registered may not be supplied to a consumer described as new.

Warranties provided by manufacturers on parallel (i.e unofficial) imports are not equivalent to those of UK dealers. Typically the warranty period will be 1 year. If the vehicle was supplied to the car supermarket by a foreign dealer, the warranty starts to run from this time. Weeks or months of the warranty may elapse while the vehicle is in the supply chain.  A missing service book may well be an indication that this is the case.

Verbal assurances by car dealers that a vehicle is “UK spec” (specification) may lead to problems. Buyers should satisfy themselves that the description is accurate using a UK sales brochure. Stories of missing immobilisers and alarms are common.

A vehicle identifiable as an import will attract a lower trade in value at an official dealer’s premises. Some car supermarkets acknowledge this but a prevalent attitude seems to be “sell it privately”-i.e. pass on the problem.

Martin Wood Chief Officer West Yorkshire Joint Services commented: “Once again a small minority in the county’s motor trade is putting profit before acceptable levels of customer care. There is no substitute for thoroughly checking a vehicle and its documents before making a purchase. Choose garages with care or ask for details of our Motor Trade Partnership scheme which is designed to inspire confidence in car buying by publishing details of dealers with a proven reputation for quality and service.”

If consumers do have any concerns they should contact the Consumer Helpline on 01133 848 848 between 8.30-6.30 Monday to Friday and 9.00-1.00 on Saturdays. Alternatively log on to our website at www.adviceline.org.uk or contact our minicom on 0113 2892 265.

For further information please contact:

Paul Cooper                               Divisional Manager 0113 2898240

David Lodge,                              Principal Trading Standards Officer 0113 2898243

Andrew Bibby,                            Call Centre Manager 0113 2898237

Graham Hebblethwaite              General Media Contact 0113 2898218