/ Money, Motoring

Brief cases: don’t take no for an answer

Second hand car

Knowing your consumer rights can help you get a deposit refunded if things go wrong – and that also applies to getting your money back from a car dealer…

A Which? Legal member came to us for help after a dealer refused to give him back the deposit he’d put down on a car. He had paid the deposit over the phone, so he could inspect the car before buying it. Before he paid, the dealer told him that if he wasn’t happy after the inspection, his deposit would be refunded in full.

When our member did go to check out the vehicle he found a number of issues with it – including that the true mileage was different to what had been advertised. He decided he no longer wanted to buy the car, but the dealer said that, as the car had no mechanical faults, his deposit wasn’t refundable. The member turned to us to help resolve the dispute.

Advice from Which? Legal

Our lawyers advised that there were two arguments he could make. First, under the Consumer Rights Act 2015, goods should be as described and of satisfactory quality. But the car’s mileage wasn’t as described in the advert, so he could reject it within 30 days and get a full refund without undue delay, and within 14 days.

Secondly, the dealer had told him he’d be refunded the deposit if he wasn’t happy. Under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008, this was misleading, as he had relied on this statement and paid the deposit. This meant that he could rescind the contract and receive his deposit, or claim damages for his financial loss. Following our advice, the member received a full refund.

Protected by your rights

Under the Consumer Rights Act 2015 all supplied goods must match their description and be of satisfactory quality. If there is a breach, you have 30 days from receiving the goods to get a refund. The next remedy is a repair or a replacement. Where this would not remedy the breach, you’d be entitled to a price reduction, or the final right to give it back and get a refund.

The Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 stop traders engaging in unfair practices, such as giving false information or causing someone to pay for something they wouldn’t have done otherwise. They entitle you to end a contract within 90 days from when you receive the goods, or a right to a discount on the price paid, or on future payments.

Have you had trouble getting a deposit refunded? Are you up-to-date with your consumer rights know-how? Discover your consumer rights to protect yourself and your money.


I do hope that Which? Legal will continue to make an input to this Convo, helping raise awareness of consumer rights. Many of us will have faced the problem of being told that nothing can be done because the manufacturer’s guarantee has expired or being wrongly advised to take the problem up with the manufacturer.

Several years ago, the Which? magazine published an undercover investigation in which actors approached large retailers about faulty goods, which illustrated the problem. The investigation was repeated a year later. Had the actors been replaced with Which? members with real faulty goods, Which? Legal could have helped those members take the necessary action to achieve a satisfactory solution.

The Which? Legal service is an invaluable aspect of the Which? offering and dealing with specialist lawyers who know Consumer legislation like the backs of their hands makes it a bargain at any price. I’ve had reason to use the service a few times, and each time the advice was not only faultless but led to success in reclaiming the amounts I’d paid. I heartily endorse Wavechange’s desire to have more of the W? Legal team posting in here.

It has surprised me that Which? has not used Which? Convo more to draw attention to Which? Legal. It’s good to have positive feedback from Convo regulars like yourself, Ian.

The only time I considered joining Which? Legal was when someone decided that it was a good idea to park opposite the gate of my house to collect her child from the local primary school. I politely asked her if she could park in front of the house or elsewhere in the cul-de-sac but she said that she was entitled to park there. I made enquiries and found that it was not a matter that Which? Legal could help with. After a couple more weeks I never saw her car again.

Having been a member for 30 years and currently a Which? Legal subscriber I would very much like real information in articles. The idea that other consumers could go to this unnamed dealer and be rooked I find depressing. Surely the charity should reveal the dealers name in order to protect all? Stories with anonymous villains and non-locations are not going to be nearly as effective.

Perhaps Which? Legal would take this opportunity to comment on the desirability of the Indian consumer court system where every judgement throughout India is recorded and available on the Web to anyone. The system in the UK courts is to bury every judgement so unless you were in the Court on the day or a local newspaper reports it then virtually no one will know the result.

So in India I put in the companies/traders name into the national database this will pull me all cases against them/him/her. Useful to know particularly where it relates to shoddy equipment or services.
Empowering consumers that is what it is about.

I agree, consumers need constant reminders of their rights when purchasing faulty goods and services. I have a special interest at present in the Misrepresentation Act 1967 since being involved in selling my home which involves the differentiation between fact and opinion, an issue that can be more difficult to prove.

I have recently been fobbed off and strung along by estate agents with fabrications and deception and attempts by solicitors to engage in negotiations in an effort to extricate me from my home as a result of these falsehoods and charge me for the privilege! I havent yet had cause to use Which? Legal Services, but if things don’t improve soon I may need to. It’s because I am involved in these convo’s that I have so far managed to stand my ground under the Consumer Rights Act. It’s surprising how quickly they back down when one quotes this.

There is an Unfair Commercial Practices Directive that regulates unfair business practices in EU law which require corresponding laws to be passed that incorporate it into each member States legal system but it is extremely complex and way beyond myself and I would guess, the remit of the ordinary consumer.

More can be found @ en.m.wikipedia.org – Unfair Commercial Practices Directive.

This case study shows that it is as important to choose your car dealer carefully as it is to choose your car.

I certainly agree that there should be more Brief Cases reports here and in the magazine as legitimate public interest spin-offs from Which?’s legal assistance service. Knowing my rights through decades of reading Which? has probably saved me from bad deals, put me right when things went wrong, protected me from lawyers, and ultimately kept me out of the courts.

So the problem remain then… How can you know that a car dealer is a “good” or at least trustworthy car dealer? Is there anywhere you could double check if it is worth dealing with them?

This comment was removed at the request of the user

Jan says:
4 June 2016

I asked Which? Legal for advice on rejecting my son’s new car which he had bought on finance and which developed a persistent and incurable electrical fault after 2 months. After months of the car breaking down and the dealer refusing to accept there was a problem despite a whole battery of AA reports, the finance company told them to make repairs (after we made a complaint) and this was completed. A week later there was a fire in the engine. I phoned Which? and followed their advice and after a long wait we successfully rejected the car, got my son out of the finance agreement and ended this particular nightmare. However, he had lost hundreds of pounds of earnings by then which they refused to pay, he had suffered stress and anxiety about losing his job because he didn’t have a car and the whole family had suffered. Their argument against paying costs was that he could have hired a car (for a 21 year old this was a very limited option and the daily cost exceeded his earnings) or temporarily insured a different car (sent by the Good Fairy? and no we couldn’t get insurance for him on either of our cars). They didn’t seem to realise that his car insurance was so high he simply couldn’t insure another car even if that car existed- and they insisted that he kept insurance on his useless car until the complaint was upheld even though it was locked in a compound covered by the dealer’s insurance. The point is that there should be much clearer guidelines for compensation when this happens to someone who buys a car in good faith.