Vehicles - Poor quality
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When you take your car to a garage for servicing or repair, you enter into a legally binding contract with the garage owner. The Supply of Goods and Services Act 1982 and the Sale and Supply of Goods to Consumer Regulations 2002 apply to garages. These laws give you certain consumer (statutory) rights under the contract. You are entitled to expect that the work will be carried out within a reasonable time frame and with skill, care and for a reasonable charge. If a new part is replaced, the part should be of satisfactory quality, fit for purpose and as described.
If you have a problem, you should complain to the company manager in the first instance and your concerns should be addressed immediately.You should know
- Contact the dealer as soon as you notice the problem – in person if possible
- If the dealer offers to fix the problem, make sure you understand any costs involved
- Keep a record of your conversations and correspondence, and write down anything verbally agreed
- If all else fails, you can reject your car as long as you tried to resolve the issue with the dealer first
- If you decide to reject the car, you must give the dealer details of your reasons for doing so in writing, and within six months of taking delivery of it
- If the dealer refuses to accept your rejection of the car, contact the customer relations department of its manufacturer straight away. They may be able to mediate
Car damaged at the garage
If your car has been damaged while at the garage, take it back straight away or, if you are still at the garage, do not accept the car. Instead, point out the damage to your vehicle and insist that it be fixed. If the garage agrees to repair the vehicle, they only have to put it back in the condition it was in when you brought it into the garage.
If the garage won't do the repairs, get in touch either with the garage’s insurance company, the trade association or through the car manufacturer to help you resolve the issue. If the garage does not accept liability and you have to claim against your insurance, this could affect your no-claims bonus, so check with your insurer.
If you have been overcharged
If you formally dispute the bill, the garage has the right to keep your vehicle until the bill has been paid. This is called having a lien over the car. If you need your vehicle urgently, you should only agree to pay 'under protest'. If you don’t do this, it will be difficult to get the money back later on, as the garage could argue that, by paying the bill, you were accepting the charges. Write the words 'paying under protest' clearly on the repair order sheet, so there's no doubt about your intention. Then gather all the evidence that supports your claim and explain why you are disputing the bill.
Car stolen from garage
Most garages will display disclaimers saying that cars are left there at the owner’s risk. If your vehicle is lost or stolen while it's in the garage, they are only legally responsible for replacing it if they didn't take reasonable care. For example, they shouldn't leave your car unlocked and unattended.
Your protection when buying a car from a garage
If you buy a new car or a used car from the dealer and something goes wrong with it, you’ll have extra protection if you bought it through:
You have protection under the Consumer Rights Act 2015. The vehicle should be of satisfactory quality, fit for its purpose, and as described. With hire purchase, it is the finance provider rather than the dealer who is legally responsible to you if there are problems with the car.
Using a credit card
If you paid all or part of the cost of your car by credit card, the card company and the trader may be jointly responsible for compensating you under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act 1974. Find out more about how you’re protected if you pay by credit card.
Paying cash using a debit card
Although your purchase won’t be covered by Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act, you may be able to claim a refund from your debit card provider through a voluntary scheme known as ‘chargeback’. Visa, MasterCard, Maestro and American Express are among the companies that have signed up to chargeback. Depending on the card you used, you’ll probably need to make your claim within 120 days of noticing the problem. Chargeback claims can take some time to process because the card company has to get the money refunded before it can pass it on to you.
If your issue cannot be resolved, then check to see if the garage is a member of Motor Codes. Motor Codes is the government-backed, self-regulatory body for the motor industry. If the garage is a member, it means the garage has committed to:
- Honest and fair services
- Open and transparent pricing
- Completing work as agreed
- Invoices that match quoted prices
- Competent and conscientious staff
- A straightforward, swift complaints procedure
Look for their logo on the garage's website, or check the Motor Ombudsman's website - click here. You can also contact the Motor Ombudsman on 0800 692 0825. The Motor Ombudsman will asses your complaint, and provide advice and assistance. If your vehicle is still with the garage, the Motor Ombudsman will contact the garage directly to try and assist.
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