Denying the customer their consumer rights

The new Consumer Rights Act 2015 has made it clearer as to who constitutes a consumer and therefore who attracts the full range of consumer rights. The definition of consumer is:

“an individual acting for purposes that are wholly or mainly outside that individual's trade, business, craft or profession.”

This means people buying vehicles to use as a taxi or for their work as a self employed plumber are unlikely to be seen by the law as a consumer.

Special rules also apply to customers buying from a public live auction where the normal rules are ‘sold as seen’.

In most other transactions with a dealer, the individual customer will be entitled to their consumer rights and any attempt to deny the customers those rights are likely to not end well for the dealer. We know some dealers will sell a vehicle for a reduced price in return for a “no warranty” sale. However, warranty or not, that customer will still be entitled to rely on the provisions set out  in the Consumer Rights Act 2015 and so any discount given could end up being just the starting point for a reduction in profit on that sale. 

A recent reported case in Cornwall demonstrates how it can go really wrong. A dealer (not one of our members of course!) was selling cars he’d purchased as ‘trade/spares and repairs’ on to customers while posing as a private seller in a deliberate effort to try and deny the customers their rights and so avoid any comeback. Trading Standards got involved and the case ended with the Magistrates dishing out a 13 week suspended sentence in addition to an order to pay compensation to two customers to the value of £1671.50 plus an £80 victim surcharge and prosecution costs of £2500.

The above really demonstrates the consequences of getting it wrong as it can not only cost money but can also lead to a criminal record.

If you have any concerns about consumer rights or are the subject of a Trading Standards investigation, do get in contact as the legal team have former consumer rights advisers and ex Trading Standard officers who will be able to provide tailored help and advice. Lawgistics Small Business package and Professional package members get unlimited telephone access to the legal team included within their annual subscription.

 

Authors: Nona Bowkis

Published: 09 Dec 2015

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