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Defending proceedings issued relating to whether the lack of a CD player in a new car was an “upgrade” or not.

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We receive a lot of cases that follow a similar pattern, i.e., something has failed on a car, and there is a dispute over whether the trader is legally responsible for rectifying that failure or not.

But, every so often, we get a case come in from left field. From the man who thought that a camper van without air con shouldn’t get as hot as it did when it was 40 degrees in July 2022, to trying to reject the vehicle because the previous owner was thought to be female, but was male.

Recently, I assisted our member in defending proceedings issued against them relating to whether the lack of a CD player in a new car was an “upgrade” or not.

The customer had bought a new car from our member a few years ago, and he came back to the site enquiring about buying the same model from new. He was told that there was a new version of the same model available, which was an upgrade on the older version.

The customer was provided with the manual, setting out the exact specifications of the vehicle, from the different trims, alloys, etc., to what the infotainment system could do.

The customer even drove the actual vehicle he received before buying it.

However, within a few weeks of taking possession of his brand-new car, he was complaining to our member that there was no CD player. He had never raised the fact that he required a CD player before this.

In the customer’s view, an upgrade definitely meant that there was a CD player included, and in his view, the lack of one was a downgrade instead.

He, therefore, bought himself a brand new iPhone, a CD burner, and various leads, then issued proceedings for the cost of these items against the member.

We became involved at this stage and proceeded to draft our member’s defence, prepare the witness statements, and conduct some discussions with the customer. Suffice to say, the customer was not interested in the sensible route, and the matter proceeded to a small claims hearing for which we prepped the barrister representing our member.

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We argued that the age of the CD has passed, sales have halved over the last five years, and that streaming is how most people are now listening to music, audiobooks, and podcasts.

We showed how there are now only one or two new vehicles being sold today that have CD players.

But most importantly, whether you consider the lack of a CD player to be an upgrade or not, we showed that the customer had been provided with all of the information to allow him to ascertain if this was the car for him. If the necessity of a CD player was important, then he would have looked at that section in the manual and immediately realised that the car did not have one. He would not have been able to buy a similar vehicle with a CD player in any event, from any of the major manufacturers.

The judge very quickly came to the decision that our member had no case to answer and threw the claimant’s case out, awarding some minor travelling expenses to our witness.

Our advice, as always, is that if proceedings are issued against you, send the paperwork to us immediately. We are here to take the burden off of you and guide you through the legal process.

Anyway, best go, I need to deal with a case where the customer refuses to use the stop/start button and wants his crankhandle refitting.

Darren FletcherLegal AdvisorRead More by this author

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