/ Money, Motoring

Brief cases: complaining about major parts failing on new car

fixing car brakes

If you pay £21,000 for a brand new car, would you expect major parts to fail after three-and-a-half years and with only 13,000 miles on the clock?

Which? Legal member Robin Dadson came to us for help after important parts of his new car started to fail.

Robin paid around £21,000 for the then brand new Skoda Yeti Crossover in March 2013. By January 2016, when he had only driven it for 13,000 miles, he noticed the rear brake discs were corroded.

The original dealer was no longer trading, so he took the car back to its successor. Both the new dealer and Skoda said the problem was fair wear and tear. Skoda said the replacement wouldn’t be covered by warranty because of the time that had elapsed and it refused to take further action.

Ten months later, when Robin took the car in again for a check-up, the condition of the brakes was such that the dealer suggested Robin replace them.

It also highlighted a problem with the Haldex pump in the four-wheel drive. The costs of repairing the brake discs and pump was around £300 each.

At this stage, Robin came to our lawyers for advice.

Our advice on complaining about a faulty new car

We told Robin that if you pay £21,000 for a car, you could reasonably expect it not to have major parts failing after three-and-a-half years. So, although the original dealer had stopped trading, he could still complain to Skoda.

Robin got in touch with Skoda again, which rejected his claim. However, he persisted and, armed with our advice, took his complaint to a higher level.

He was then offered a ‘goodwill gesture’ of £300 in relation to the pump. Robin accepted this and reluctantly paid for the brake disc repairs himself. This solution compensated him for repairing one of the faulty parts and also took into account his having more than three years’ use of the car.

As Robin bought the car before 1 October 2015, his rights are under the Sale of Goods Act 1979 (for contracts after that date it’s the Consumer Rights Act 2015), which says that goods must be of satisfactory quality and fit for purpose. If they’re not, the customer can ask for them to be repaired or replaced within a reasonable time.

It can be tricky to exercise these rights when there is a dispute between the customer and seller over whether the items failed due to wear and tear or due to a breach of contract. So, it’s often necessary to get expert opinions.

This article by the Which? Legal team originally appeared in the April 2017 edition of Which? magazine.

Have you ever had to complain directly to a manufacturer about a faulty new car? Were you successful in receiving compensation?


I bought a piece of art that was delivered time with a badly damaged frame. I sent it back and asked for a refund, which they denied me. I raised a S75 dispute, with my credit card company and was subsequently refunded. However, the company in question, is trying to charge me for redelivery of the art and it’s storage for the last 3 months!! Do they have any right to try?!

I don’t think so. Under the UK consumer rights act, I think they are obliged to refund or repair your purchase.

Thanks for the reply Derek. They have repaired but I said that I wanted a refund. They said that the art was mine until the dispute was sorted and hence the storage charge. Keep sending me invoices! Don’t know whether to seek legal advice??

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I don’t think they would be within their rights to universally impose storage charges on you, except perhaps if it was in the small print of your original sales contract.

Hi Duncan,

Thanks for the time you have given, in considering my issue.

I gave the company plenty of time to sort this amicably. I have spent hundreds of pounds previously with this company, for them to then treat me with total disregard- I was told unreservedly that I would not get a refund.

I believed I was well in my rights to ask for a refund, even though I was not offered one. I also did not ask for the item to be stored. I thought with the consumer rights act, I was protected as I hadn’t caused the damage!!

How’s it even disputed?! If I pay money to someone, I expect quality service and product. If I don’t get my money back or they end up suing me, where are my rights?!

Thanks again

Thanks again. They imposed it after I asked for a refund. They said that as I was the owner, they would be charging me for storage. Guess they’ll have to take me to court?

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The company might be better to pursue the company that failed to deliver the product in an undamaged condition and maybe to improve their packaging to resist damage in transit. I hope you will hear no more about this, Paul. From what you say, you have behaved reasonably.

Covering NEW TV fault within 10 months from purchase date Sent Formal complaint to John Lewis and Samsung on 30 December 2018 Samsung repair agent has failed to attend 2 appointments Made by JOHN LEWIS on 3 and 8 January 2019
PLEASE ADVISE Definition of• taking an unreasonable time, AND
• causing an unreasonable inconvenience
Many thanks

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I ordered an item 8 jan and it was missing from the box I have been passed from dept to dept 3 weeks have gone by and still nothing

Claire says:
25 January 2019

I paid a deposit £300.00 for accommodation to be booked for December 31st to which a contract was sent. Unfortunately I did not return the contract to accept the booking, but through email confirmed everything. Due to certain circumstances I had to cancel the booking 2 days after I paid the deposit, and has since this the availability has been filed. The £300 was a down payment for damages which would have been returned after leaving the premises. There is a comment that does state that this is non-refundable if cancelled. Is this an acceptable process as I hadn’t actually paid towards the booking this was being doing a week later. Thanks

I presume you were aware of the condition and accepted it when you made the booking and your travel insurance (?) didn’t cover it?
This sounds like it may be an unfair contract condition. Maybe Which? Legal will comment.

Brian Dignall says:
27 January 2019

I ordered 50 years of the 50p at 9am got one in my basket and the system crashed before I checked out the money was pending in my account i got a email saying I was unsuccessful and was not getting my order because the amount of interest it had sold out ?.the said set had a Kew garden in it the holy grail of 50 p so why only release 3500 of them ?.the Facebook page for the royalmint has got 1000s of complaints for there poor service and every complaint has the same answer . They should be made to reissue the coin with a greater amount to allow true collectors get one and not be selling them friends or families to sell on eBay

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Would not releasing more of the rare 50p coin devalue it? I doubt if serious collectors and dealers would like that idea.

Presumably ‘commemorative coins’ are not official currency or legal tender and the ‘face value’ is merely indicative, The selling of specially minted coins probably makes a lot of money for the Royal Mint which helps keep down the manufacturing cost of our currency. By feeding the coin dealing market the Mint promotes collecting that boosts its sales. The important thing is that the Mint makes clear to intending purchasers any restrictions on the use or exchange of the coins which it does appear to do.

A bit like commemorative stamps that are collected unused and never used to pay for postage – just profit for the post office. Why not, if people are prepared to pay to collect them? They still have postal value if anyone decides to use them.

Connie says:
4 February 2019

Any 50p is worth 50p, if people choose to gamble that some idiot will pay more than 50p for it, then buyer beware.

This topic has certainly moved…off topic. Interesting diversion, mind.

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It does highlight another weakness in the structure – the staff being unable to move posts between topics.

So where does this thread about unconvertible commemorative coins fit, Ian? This Conversation, on major parts failing on new cars, has a high percentage of comments about all sorts of products and appliances outside the motor industry. It has become a “Consumer Rights Fail” conversation and perhaps should be renamed as such. My assumption is that many of the contributors are being driven here by search engines or by links in other sites. With over 850 comments on 14 pages it has indeed become a miscellany [and lacks an index which would be useful] but most items resolve themselves quite quickly without too much overlapping as answers are sought and soon given.

I suspect your idea about renaming the topic is the best. But I (and others) always wanted a legal beagles topic in which people could post queries of the nature we’ve seen in here and they’d at least get the benefit of a quick response, if that was only ‘Sign up to W? legal services’.

I appreciate the danger of making legal advice completely free but a lot of these queries could be answered by cutting and pasting standard responses. Those wanting more detailed answers could join W legal.

It’s also important not to lose sight of the fact that some useful responses (and discoveries) are being offered by the regulars, which is exactly what Young had envisioned. This, in fact might be a great opportunity. Let’s hope it’s not wasted.

Despite attempts to engage with the Which? legal team they have shown no inclination to get involved in Which? Conversation, presumably because it is not fee-earning.

An answer has been given to virtually every kind of consumer rights query since April 2017 when this Conversation started and most of the answers are well covered in the various Which? guides to various aspects of the CRA and the Regulations made under it. I don’t want to appear unhelpful but I think there are better ways of assisting people with their purchasing problems than the random and unreliable process of posting on Which? Conversation.

It’s the same with parking penalty charge queries; we have virtually covered every situation in the “Barry Beavis” Conversation and should not have to keep repeating ourselves. An algorithmic approach referencing the various guidance responses would be much more efficient and helpful to enquirers; furthermore, there are specialist websites with experienced parking practitioners available to help whereas we are sometimes employing guesswork.

I wish something could be done to composite the good answers that are given to the various questions that arise but I am not sure that we are the right people to do it. Increasingly I find that Which? Conversation does not have any outcomes despite occasional assurances that everything is read and fed into ongoing research and activity.

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Human intelligence is surely not Artificial, Duncan!

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And some scientists are completely bonkers.

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John said I wish something could be done to composite the good answers that are given to the various questions that arise but I am not sure that we are the right people to do it

It has been done – by four of us who complied a list of answered questions on the Electric car topic. It was sent to Patrick, but, after an initial acknowledgement, we’ve heard nothing more. That was some months ago.

We know there are at least four of us who are willing to help out in what is essentially a curation task. But it would seem from the lack of interest on Patrick’s part that Which? isn’t interested. I’m unsure why that is.

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But who is controlling whom and why?

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Why be so suspicious? I doubt that “commercial politics” [whatever conspiracy that might be] has anything to do with it in the context of Which? Conversation. It could just be pressure of other priority work. Patrick has told us that changes are on the horizon and things like this probably have to be fitted into a work programme.

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I see this as not about websites but about Which?’s policy as an organisation; Convos are just another arm of the Consumers’ Association.

Many comments have been made over the years asking Which? to engage more, and more effectively, with Members, use them as a resource, listen to their views and be seen to act more in partnership,. So far there is little sign of a change but maybe the new CEO will take a different path? But many members may not share this view and, if that is the case, nothing will change. I did think the Member Governance Committee might be a step forward but that has been a failure, so far, as far as I can see, in attracting any useful suggestions. https://conversation.which.co.uk/discussion/which-discussion/

I bought a product for my eye lashes but when I put it on it caused severe irritation. I contacted the company who are refusing a refund am I entitled to a refund. can anyone help.

Hi Linda, That sounds awful and it sounds like you haven’t exactly had a good customer service experience either! I have passed your comment on to our consumer rights team.

Hi Linda, You can find information here about faulty products and information about claiming refunds. Without knowing more about it I can’t say for certain but it does sound like the product is not fit for purpose. https://www.which.co.uk/consumer-rights/advice/what-do-i-do-if-i-have-a-faulty-product

Sean brown says:
11 February 2019

if a item is on display for £40 but when you get too the checkout it’s £45 does the retailer have to sell it too you at the lower price.

No. It would not be fair to penalise a retailer if it was a genuine mistake and the goods had not yet been purchased. It’s possible that they would honour the price in cases like yours where the price difference is small, or allow a goodwill discount for bigger mistakes, but there is no obligation: https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/consumer/somethings-gone-wrong-with-a-purchase/if-something-is-advertised-at-the-wrong-price/

If the retailer was deliberately advertising a product at a lower price but not prepared to sell at that price then they are not complying with the Consumer Protection Act and I suggest you contact Citizens Advice, who should pass the case to the local office of Trading Standards.

I recall a case when a customer a huge number of TVs advertised at an implausibly low price: https://swanturton.com/the-argos-case-caveat-vendor/

Unfortunately the retailer is under no obligation to honour the price but many retailers will.

Lisa Drury says:
16 February 2019

I brought a paint roller on 4/11/18 online from exoto essentials. It never arrived. Emailed them twice and no response.

It may, of course, be a genuine mistake but if you feel that it is a scam you should report it.


Cath Jones says:
19 February 2019

I bought a jacket online and needed to return this item. Unfortunately I did not return the item within 14 days (which is their brand request). I have requested an exchange to the value of the item as they said they can only offer a refund minus 20% which would be fees to free item from the storage etc but they have provided a exchange voucher code minus 20%. This offer does not feel right to me, can anyone offer me guidance? Thanks Cat

Cath – Under the Consumer Contracts Regulations there is the right to cancel the contract [purchase] within fourteen days of receipt of the goods and receive a refund. You have no rights beyond that period so anything the seller does if you wish to return the item is at their discretion.

I would question whether levying a charge of 20% of the price of the goods for releasing a replacement from storage is fair and reasonable, however. To start with, the cost of releasing the item is not related to the value of the product so I would expect there to be a standard but reasonable charge [which for smaller purchases could no doubt exceed the value and thus deter such claims], secondly the real costs are for reconditioning and repackaging the returned garment, and there is also likely to be an additional postage and packing element. I suggest that the percentage reduction should also be on the ex-VAT price and not the total price.

Ali Dee says:
20 February 2019

I ordered from wood sheets.com a sheet of MDF on line (on 03/02) with a 3-7day delivery. Still waiting. I was told by the company that I have no right to cancel as it’s a bespoke item and they are under no obligation to process for another 30 days. I have since contacted CA and they say different as it’s a breech of contract by them. It now transpires that this has happened to countless others (I checked Trustpilot). I paid via PayPal and have opened a case with them but my worry is I have cancelled this order but they say not. The order is showing as being “packaged” . Do I have the right to refuse delivery if it turns up? and if yes, what is the company’s responsibility vis a vis refunding courier costs when I do refuse?
I’m sending a recorded delivery letter to formally complain but I think I’m banging my head against the proverbial wall here!
Thanks everyone

Unless the MDF was cut to size, then it was a stock item rather than a bespoke item. If you have evidence of the 3-7 day delivery or that is shown on the website (you can print a copy) then they have broken the contract as Citizens Advice has said. I suggest making these points in your letter, and sending it recorded delivery is certainly worth doing.

If the goods had been out of stock and you had agreed to wait another month, they would have been within their rights.

I bought a Fuji lens 18 months ago. It has a 12 month guarantee. The focus motor has failed. Can I expect the retailer to repair it FOC citing Fit for Purpose?

Your rights under the Consumer Rights Act are against the retailer and not the manufacturer. The retailer is entitled to inspect the goods for evidence of abuse or misuse – for example the lens might have been dropped or damaged by water. If the lens has worked for over a year then it would be difficult to prove that it was not fit for purpose, but you could claim that it was not sufficiently durable in relation to what you paid.

It’s worth having a look at this advice on the Which? website: https://www.which.co.uk/consumer-rights/l/faulty-goods You might be fortunate and be offered a free repair but if not you might be offered a partial refund or a discount on a new lens to take account of the fact that the goods have been used for 18 months. Best of luck.

callum says:
25 February 2019

na man i dont think u can its out of it warrenty

Make a polite claim against the retailer citing the Consumer Rights Act 2015 which requires a product to have reasonable durability. The time it should work properly should take account of its price. If the lens shows signs of misuse, abuse, damage, water or sand ingress (for example) then you would be lucky to get any help but otherwise you should be entitled to help. There is nothing to stop you, having discussed it with the retailer, copying your complaint to the manufacturer.

A motorised lens should clearly last longer than 18 months – last several years presumably if used normally. Have you looked online to see if problems have been reported?

24 February 2019

I ordered a tent from blacks and was sent a message saying it was being dispatched. Then 3 days later an email saying they had cancelled the order as they had none in stock. However checking their website they had the same tent with a ne part number on their site for double the price. And it was the same tent ! Do I have any grounds to complain?

Since the retailer did not fulfil your order, and notified you that they had cancelled it, there was no contract between you and there is no means of redress, but you could certainly complain and request supply of the tent at the original price, or at a discount from the new price; you could be lucky, but the company is not under any obligation to you. Prices for leisure goods generally rise at this time of the year, especially if the sun is shining.

The situation would be different if the company had already taken payment, in which case there would be a contract. I cannot find the relevant page on the Which? website, so here is what Citizens Advice has to say:

>i>Shopping online

Your legal rights depend on something fairly tricky in the law: whether or not you have a ‘contract’.

Depending on the company’s terms and conditions, you’ll have legal rights (and a contract) either:

>once you’ve paid for the item
>once they’ve sent it to you

You’ll need to find the company’s terms and conditions to find out where you stand. Contact the Citizens Advice consumer helpline if you need help. It may be too tricky to work out yourself.

If you have a contract, the company can’t usually cancel your order, even if they realise they’ve sold you something at the wrong price. They’ll only be able to cancel it if it was a genuine and honest mistake on their part that you should’ve noticed. https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/consumer/somethings-gone-wrong-with-a-purchase/if-something-is-advertised-at-the-wrong-price/

If the tent was offered at half normal price then that would help Liam’s case.

callum says:
25 February 2019

yea man u should go do that

Thank you so much to everyone for all the replies to this Convo – we have such a great community here ready to help people. It’s really appreciated!

joe the salmon donnelly says:
26 February 2019

i ordered a copy of call of duty black ops 3 and it came two days late

Andrea says:
26 February 2019

My hotpoint fridge freezer is just over 2 years the handles have gone rusty and rust spots on door fronts. Hotpoint say i am not covered by sale of goods act cos i didnt buy from them.they want me to buy new doors

Andrea says:
26 February 2019

Forgot to mention that hotpoint said im not covered by sale of goods act cos i didnt buy from them
Is this correct?

Your complaint is against the retailer from whom you purchased the fridge freezer. You are covered by the Consumer Rights Act 2015 (it took over from S0GA and is similar); I’d send them photos including the location of the fridge freezer. If the Fr/Fr is sited in an area not covered by Hotpoint’s installation requirements (in an outbuilding or garage for example) then you may have difficulty.

Andrea Blake says:
26 February 2019

Thanks for your reply. Its in the kitchen. I will write to tbe retailer.

Andrea – Retailers often ask customers to contact the manufacturer, particularly if problems occur after a year. Don’t be put off if this happens. As Malcolm says, your rights are against the retailer.

Which? provides advice on dealing with faulty goods and template letters: https://www.which.co.uk/consumer-rights/advice/what-do-i-do-if-i-have-a-faulty-product#how-long-do-i-have-to-return-a-faulty-product

Fingers crossed and please let us know the outcome.