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Legal advice: seller to blame for inaccurate advert

Ever received goods that haven’t matched their description? Here’s how we helped a member get a refund on a purchase made following an inaccurate advert.

Which? Legal member Stuart bought a VW Golf from EMG Motor Group of East Anglia and East Midlands for £28,350, but noticed on his test drive that there was no reversing camera, unlike what the advert stated.

EMG admitted the mistake and made a small discount.

Later on, Stuart found the lane-assist feature was also missing. When he tried to return the car, EMG said it was his duty to ensure advertised features were present, and refused him a refund.

Short-term right to reject

As he was within the first 30 days of taking possession of the car, we advised Stuart that he could rely upon the ‘short-term right to reject’, part of the Consumer Rights Act 2015.

EMG was in breach of contract because the car did not match its advert. Stuart had the original advert, which we advised him to rely upon to enforce his right to return the car.

We also advised him that EMG could not exclude or restrict his rights in this circumstance.

After a few weeks, EMG conceded, offering Stuart his refund.

Shifting the burden

Section 11 of the Consumer Rights Act 2015 states that goods must match their description. It’s a breach to supply goods missing advertised features.

A consumer’s rights under section 11 cannot be excluded or restricted, meaning EMG could not shift the burden on to Stuart to check that every aspect of its advert was accurate.

EMG told us:

“With hundreds of models and thousands of variants, on very rare occasions errors can occur. The customer was offered £750 then £1,500 to keep the car.

When he asked for an unrealistic £25,000 we accepted his rejection and three working days later arranged to collect the car and return his money.

We then found VW had facelifted the car so it didn’t have the items he was looking for”

Have you ever received goods before only to find they haven’t matched their description? Were you able to return them for a refund?


OOOPs!! This Conversation about an inaccurate advert has a miss-spelt headline.

Have Which? been hiring former Grauniad employees?

Congrats John you win today’s spot the deliberate mistake prize 🙂

No ex Grauniad employees Derek – just me who clearly didn’t get enough sleep last night.

I’m impressed that Stuart managed to obtain a full refund for the car. I might have accepted the offer of £1500 rather than have to go through the trauma of buying another car.

It would depend upon how important the features missing were. I’d find a reversing camera useful; if it could be retrofitted that would have been one option. I don’t know whether lane assist is particularly useful as I’ve no experience of it. Deducting what it would have cost as a VW extra might have covered that.

Looking for the right car is a hassle unless you are prepared to wait and have it made to order.

I’m no expert on cars but have read that it can be best value to look at what is in stock rather than have a car built to order. I once visited my local main dealer just to get an idea of what was available, having had my car for around nine years. One of the cars in the showroom had various extras including a DAB radio, in the days when these were only available in top of the range models. The price was too good to refuse and I bought the car. I guess it was a cancelled order.

I would imagine the best discount would be on a car held in stock by the dealer. My car was built to order as I decided if buying a new car that i intended to keep a long while I’d get the the colour and specification I wanted. At the time I believe I still got a good deal, with a 24% discount. I came away happy and I suppose that is what matters 🙂

In stock by the dealer is what I meant. What I’ve done in the past is to look at what dealers within 150 miles have in stock. I once test drove a car discussed prices and specifications and found a better deal on the same model and colour at another dealer about 60 miles away. I paid a deposit and then came home to find an email and numerous phone messages apologising that another salesman had sold it. 🙁 I went back to the local dealer.

Back on topic, Stuart has done well with his Which? Legal subscription. If he had the use of the car that he bought before EMG agreed to the refund the company will have lost out. We have not been told whether this was a new or secondhand car.

I bought a new car in October (my previous one was stolen) from a local dealer. I wanted the top spec and they had a model in the showroom with only 8 miles on the clock and new number plate. I took It for a test drive and decided to buy. Turned out it was Classed as a pre reg so l had to wait 12 weeks before l could drive it away, and as l was then registered as the 2nd owner I had to remember to state it was not a “new car” when getting gap and normal insurance which felt weird – but it was worth the huge saving on the price. Wish I had done this with my previous brand new cars.

If you sold the car soon after purchase you might find that it is worth less than if you were the first owner but the longer you own it the less significant that this will be. I have been told that dealers register cars in this way to meet targets. Enjoy your new car.

I was desperate for settee protectors as my foster cat is scratching the furniture. I saw what I thought was ideal illustrated on Wish shopping site. The items came, with no paperwork, no return address & 4 boxes 3″ long. Unroll it stick it on the sofa which is material & with in 2 hours falls off. The fabric one received has come with nothing to attach it. The whole thing is from China. On line shopping needs to say where the firm is based. I’ve wasted £15!

Janet I have come across ‘Wish’ a few times when searching for various things but have avoided them as their prices always seem too good to be true. Your post had just confirmed my suspicions.

Ibrahim H Malue says:
6 June 2021

Nice one