Car dealer ordered to pay £1,500 after duping ‘naive’ customer

Car dealer ordered to pay £1,500 after duping ‘naive’ customer

A CAR dealer from Reading has been ordered to pay £1,500 after deceiving a customer about the quality of a vehicle.

Nadeem Younis, 37, of Sycamore Road, was accused of selling a Ford Ka in 2011 without informing the new owner that it had been previously damaged. It was only after the car broke down because of a radiator leak that the customer, Maribic Benito, discovered replacement parts, including a new bonnet, had been fitted and that the car had previously been in a crash. The Reading Chronicle reported that Younis pressurised the buyer by giving her a receipt that said the car was ‘sold as seen’.

She complained to trading standards, which launched an investigation, but according to the Chronicle, Younis claimed that he was unaware of the damage.

Reading Borough Council said Younis had advertised the car on Auto Trader without disclosing the damage and claimed to be a private seller rather than a dealer. Consumer protection laws only apply to trade sellers, but the investigation proved that Younis regularly traded cars and had sold 19 of them between February 14, 2009 and August 25, 2011, as well as advertising as a trader under the trading name ‘Brookvale’.

The case went to trial in 2013 but Younis was acquitted as JPs said they couldn’t be sure that he was a car trader. However, the council appealed to the High Court, pictured at top, on legal points, and in October last year the High Court found in its favour, returning the case to magistrates for retrial this month and setting a legal precedent in the process.

The current trial took two days and Younis was found guilty of three charges of breaching the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008. He was given a 12-month conditional discharge and ordered to pay £500 compensation and £1,000 costs.

Deputy District Judge Khan said there was ‘compelling evidence Younis was a car trader’ because of how regularly he traded. Younis had an account with Auto Trader with a trade discount and used a trade name on the receipt as well as on the DVLA vehicle registration document when he had bought the car before selling it. The council said that Younis must have known about the accident damage but chose to disregard it and didn’t tell the buyer about it either so as to minimise any financial loss.

Simon Blackford, prosecuting at Reading Magistrates’ Court, said: ‘Ms Benito was the perfect buyer. She was naive and when she believed she was purchasing from a trader, she would have been forced to believe him.’

The judge added: ‘I find it incredibly hard to believe that you would not be able to tell that there was water damage to this car. You must have known, and I am sure that she would not have purchased the vehicle if she had known.

‘You provided the receipt because you panicked that she would ask for a refund when she eventually discovered the damage. Being naive, she was then unsure about her rights. I believe that these actions would deter the average consumer.’

After the case, Councillor Paul Gittings, Reading’s lead member for consumer services, said: ‘This man, who had clearly been trading cars for over 18 months, left an unsuspecting buyer out of pocket and with a faulty car and used the excuse of being a “private” seller as a way to avoid fulfilling the buyer’s consumer rights. This is an important case which has changed the law in favour of the consumer.

‘I want to congratulate the teams involved for their outstanding work in this investigation and in pursuing the appeal. I hope it acts as a deterrent to other would-be unscrupulous traders out there.’

Main image: Andrew Matthews PA Wire/PA Images

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