Misleading adverts results in £58,000 fine

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The result should serve as a warning to all traders to ensure vehicles are accurately described.

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Uxbridge Magistrates Court has recently handed down a fine of over £58,000 to a car dealership for repeatedly misleading customers on the Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) status of vehicles.

Vehicles that are not ULEZ compliant will incur a charge for driving inside the zones. The charges are currently £12.50 per day and the zones operate 24/7. The status of a vehicle can be easily checked online.

Elite Automotive Ltd trading as Hilton Car Supermarket advertised a series of vehicles as being ULEZ compliant and therefore exempt from charges, without checking the accuracy of this information. This resulted in customers unexpectedly being charged for driving inside the zones.

An investigation was launched by Hillingdon Council’s Trading Standards after a complaint was received from a consumer who fell victim to the misleading advertisement. Trading Standards’ initial investigations conducted between February to March 2020 found that five vehicles were advertised as being free from ULEZ charges when, in fact, they were not.

The same consumer later raised a second complaint to Trading Standards after noticing the same vehicle they had returned, due to not being ULEZ compliant, had been readvertised as being ULEZ compliant. Following further investigations, Trading Standards found an additional 14 vehicles were inaccurately listed as being ULEZ compliant.

Action was taken against the dealership for breaches of Sections 9 and 13 of the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008.  

The regulations prohibit traders from engaging in unfair business practices, such as providing misleading information or omitting information that causes or is likely to cause the average consumer to take a different decision.

At Uxbridge Magistrates Court in June 2022, the dealership admitted 12 counts of breaches of Regulations 9 & 13.

The dealership was fined £58,825 in addition to £5,358 in court costs, £1,120 in compensation, and a £190 victim surcharge.

The result should serve as a warning to all traders to ensure vehicles are accurately described.

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Katie PlemonsSolicitorRead More by this author

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