Consumer Rights in a Car Sale
The case of Baljinder involves his purchase of a three year old Vauxhall Vectra from Atkins Motors for L6,000. Upon Baljinder’s inspection of the vehicle, the mileage of the car read 10,000, and Scott, the owner of Atkins Motors, claimed that the mileage was genuine. Scott also told Baljinder that the vehicle had never been involved in an accident and had only one previous female owner. In an effort to reassure Baljinder, Scott advised him to have the car assessed, which Baljinder did not do. Baljinder bought the car, trusting that Scott was being honest.
Upon his purchase of the car, Baljinder found out that the car had had two previous owners, one male and one female, had been involved in a rear end accident, and actually had 70,000 miles. When Baljinder complained to Scott, Scott refused to do anything and stated that what he had said about the car was all he had honestly known about the car and that he did not alter the mileage. Baljinder has since found out that his car is actually only worth L3,000, and he is interested in seeking legal action against Atkins Motors.
In reviewing the details of the case in accordance with current
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Even if it could be proven that Scott knew the entire vehicle history before selling the car, there is no UK law which mandates that he share the complete vehicle history information with the customer. It is likely that Scott did not even bother researching the vehicle background after his own purchase of the vehicle, as his sole interest was to sell the vehicle as quickly as possible and for the highest value. Conducting research on purchased vehicles would only serve to slow the care sales operation.
The misrepresentation of vehicles to customers can be easily undertaken, and there are not many legal consumer protections which serve to bolster confidence in the purchase of used cars (UK Motorists, 2010). The best action taken by Scott was his advice to Baljinder that he obtain a vehicle assessment in order to have a more concrete idea about the worth of the vehicle in question, although this is no consolation to Baljinder after having paid double the price for his car. Assessment
If Baljinder had wanted to be more secure in the purchase of his new vehicle, he could have had the car assessed. It was good advice for Scott to have told Baljinder to have the car inspected, as this is one of the only ways to truly gauge a car’s value before buying. An assessment could have detected signs of the car’s previous accident as well as perhaps tampering of the car mileage. It is unfortunate that Baljinder did not take this vital step before buying the vehicle.
Agencies such as AA are able to coordinate inspections and assessments for prospective buyers, and will go out to the dealerships in order to check the entire car (AA, 2010). Although it is no help for Baljinder at this point to engage in the services of an agency like AA, it is important to be able to share with him this important step in the purchase of a used car. When customers activate the power of a private inspection and assessment, they are taking the reins into their own hands and aggressively seeking out knowledge about the worth of their prospective purchase.
Within the UK, an assessment is one of the only ways to get an in depth look at the car history before making a purchase. There is no legal mandate that the car has to be assessed in all areas by the car seller or by the government. DVLA Release of Information The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency holds valuable information about cars and can be extremely helpful in helping car owners to research their vehicles’ histories. Information that Baljinder lacked, such as the actual mileage and data about previous owners and accidents, is stored in the DVLA system.
It is possible for the current owner of a vehicle to request a release of information about the vehicle one has purchased and to obtain vital information about vehicle history (DVLA, 2010). However, in the case of Baljinder, he truly needed access to this information before purchasing the vehicle, and there is no UK law which mandates that consumers be afforded the right to research vehicle history with the DVLA before purchase. Baljinder was simply one of many people excluded from accessing the significant information which the DVLA holds.
It was not until Baljinder’s purchase of the vehicle that he was allowed the right to access information about his vehicle’s history as the new owner. It would be far more helpful to prospective buyers for the DVLA to allow release of important vehicle history to consumers before the purchase of a vehicle, so that consumers have the upper hand in car purchases. At the present time, the only agencies consumers can rely upon pre-purchase are the private assessors and inspectors, which are often not as reliable as government regulators.
Private inspection businesses are able to be swayed in the direction of private interests from the car dealers. Conclusion There are certainly not enough government sponsored laws in order to protect the prospective consumer, and Baljinder is probably one of many people who purchase misrepresented vehicles only to be disappointed when becoming the new owner. Although some people claim that the car market is in need of liberalization, the laws pertaining to the governmental release of car histories to prospective buyers is certainly in need of further regulation (Brenkers & Verboven, 2006).
There was no way for Baljinder to have accessed a governmentally verified car history before his purchase of the used car, and this is a detriment to him and the entire UK society. There needs to be a way for the government to collect all pertinent vehicle information, as is being done in the DVLA, and to release this information to prospective buyers or the public at large. The rationale behind keeping this information secret pales in comparison to the importance of making vehicle histories public. There is little use in obtaining vehicle information after a purchase.
The best way for Baljinder to be active in aiming to assert his belief in consumer rights is not to take Scott or Atkins Motors to court, but to place energy in having his representatives change the law in regard to public access to DVLA records. At this point, Scott and Atkins Motors are not in breach of any laws and may continue to do as little as necessary in regard to sharing accurate vehicle history information. In regard to trust as a commodity, it should be known that there is real social and monetary value in being able to trust the people with whom one does business (Dasgupta, 2000).
It is up to enforcement agencies, such as UK lawmakers, to ensure that there can be genuine trust between people when conducting business. When trust is not a part of the business transaction, there are widespread social and financial costs which serve to undermine the strength of the entire community. Only when consumers feel truly protected within trustworthy relationships with business owners will the legal system truly be doing its job as a regulatory force.
It is up to government officials to secure trust in all social and financial business transactions, and, unfortunately, Baljinder was failed by his government. References AA. (2010). What We Check for You. AA. Brenkers, R. & Verboven, F. (2006). Liberalizing a Distribution System: the European Car Market. Journal of the European Economic Association. Dasgupta, P. (2000). Trust as a Commodity. Trust: Making and Breaking Cooperative Relations. University of Oxford. DVLA. (2010). Reasonable cause – the reasons behind DVLA releasing information. DVLA. UK Motorists. (2010). Advice on Buying. UK Motorists.