/ Money, Motoring

Brief case: faulty Land Rover fixed for free

James had problems with his Land Rover from the moment he bought it. So when it developed a serious exhaust problem he wasn’t happy to settle for 50% of the repair costs.

Which? Legal member James Cook came to us for help after enduring a catalogue of serious and repeated problems with a new Land Rover Discovery 4.

Problems with James’ Land Rover

The car suffered issues from the moment he took possession of it in June 2012. These included a water leak in the boot and a rear brake light coming loose from its mounting, causing paintwork damage. These problems were rectified by the dealership under the warranty, which was still in place at this time.

In December 2014, James saw the exhaust pipe hanging below the rear bumper line and the silencer dangling on its rubber mounting, having broken away from the tail pipe.

He couldn’t use the vehicle and called the AA. They couldn’t fix the exhaust at the roadside but, for safety reasons, removed the silencer. The issue was so serious he was advised to contact Land Rover immediately.

James contacted the dealership and Land Rover offered to pay 25% of the price of a new exhaust and fitting. He declined this, and the offer was raised to 50%. But he was still unhappy with this. He looked into the matter and found a ‘technical bulletin’ Land Rover had issued in July 2013, warning of an exhaust pipe issue with the car he had bought, which he’d been told nothing about. He came to Which? Legal for help.

Our advice for James

We suggested that James write to the dealership and Land Rover’s chairman, detailing the issues and the breach of contract committed by selling a defective car. The company quickly agreed to repair it for free, with the modified exhaust fittings highlighted on the technical bulletin.

Goods sold to you in the UK must be of satisfactory quality, fit for purpose and as described. For goods bought before 1 October 2015, this is covered by the Sale of Goods Act 1979.

If what you buy isn’t satisfactory, you can reject it (but you must usually do this within 30 days) or the retailer must repair or replace it. If neither is possible, you should be offered a full or partial refund.

However, there are additional considerations under the Consumer Rights Act 2015, which came into force on 1 October. This allows a trader to take into account how much you’ve used a product when assessing how much of a refund to give you, even where this is within the first six months after you bought it.

Comments
Profile photo of wavechange
Member

I expect that the thought of having an unusable car might have encouraged most people to pay up even if they have a good case to have the work done free of charge. I wonder if it would be possible to ‘make a payment under protest’ and then take legal action.

It’s good to see some information about how the new Consumer Rights Act can help us in practice.

Profile photo of malcolm r
Member

This seems a clear cut case of correcting a known fault from new, confirmed by the bulletin. It seems somehow retailers need to be told their legal obligations. Perhaps Which could campaign for this to help consumers.

I don’t know whether the Consumer Rights Act simply clarifies what the Sale of Goods Act covered. If you are out of guarantee and a part fails, through a known fault or, more likely, lack of durability (under “quality” in the acts) then the CRA seems to say that only a partial recompense may be made to account for use made. For example if a washing machine should last 6 years but fails after 4 the retailer may now assume they can make a 1/3 offer as you have already had 2/3 usage. As I see it anyway, but maybe Which? Legal have a different view or can elaborate. i don’t know if this was spelled out in the Sale of Goods Act, which will presumably apply to most products still out their for some time. I presume the CRA cannot be retrospective.

To me this all seems to emphasis the importance of addressing durability – what is a reasonable fault free normal working life for particular products. If those can be set down then consumers will be in a much better position when approaching retailers with a problem, and retailers would be much better informed. Fair to both sides. Start somewhere. How about large domestic appliances.

Incidentally, Which? have recently published a list of good and less good camcorders where they show a graph of fault-free lifetimes achieved for different brands. So it is not too difficult to do perhaps.