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Car dealers and consumer law – what you need to know

Time 2 years ago

  • In a special article written for Car Dealer Magazine, the Chartered Trading Standards Institute gives some helpful advice and guidance for dealers

The challenge that comes with running any type of business will be well known to people who have actually put themselves out there and done it.

Every day can bring up unexpected situations and events, from staff absences and workplace injuries to problems with stock deliveries and customer complaints.

It is the latter which particularly plagues the used car industry.

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Used car dealers are among the most complained-about businesses in the UK, and even the good, conscientious businesses – of which there are many – can get lumped in with the rogues and cowboys who spoil things for everybody.

Obviously, that isn’t fair on the vast majority of traders whose entire business relies on satisfied customers, committed employees and repeat business. It also makes it difficult for consumers, who are unsure where to turn to when looking to make what is likely to be one of the most important purchases of their lives.

The Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI) and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) are aware that keeping a business functioning smoothly and in good financial health is hard enough without the looming spectre of customer complaints, which have a nasty habit of evolving into reputational damage and court cases, bringing with them financial penalties and even, in the most extreme cases, criminal charges.

It is for that reason that CTSI and BEIS have launched the new guidance booklet ‘Car traders and consumer law: Guidance for dealerships on the Business Companion website – the free government-backed website written by trading standards experts to help you understand the laws that affect your business.


The booklet is divided into sections covering the key points of consumer law and the obligations of used car dealers to their customers, and has been designed for used car dealers who are probably too busy to spend much time away from the garage forecourt.


CTSI chief executive Leon Livermore said:

‘Unfortunately, car complaints remain among the most numerous types of complaints to consumer protection bodies. It’s a fact of life that cars can break down. A business must make sure that it is open and transparent with consumers and conforms to its legal responsibilities before, during and after sales.’

The guidance booklet contains invaluable information on the relevant legislation that used car dealers need to be aware of, including:

  • the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008
  • the Consumer Rights Act 2015
  • the Consumer Contracts (Information
  • Cancellation and Additional Charges) Regulations 2013
  • and the Consumer Rights (Payment Surcharges) Regulations 2012

But don’t be put off by that slightly unwieldy list – the booklet is written in straightforward, plain English and addresses the issues that are likely to arise in the day-to-day course of business.

It also includes information about Alternative Dispute Resolution – a useful mechanism for addressing customer complaints when they do arise without the need for recourse to the courts.

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By having access to this guidance, you can ensure that you and your employees have an extra tool with which to address consumer complaints and – ideally – avoid them in the first place. Which means you will have more time to spend doing what’s important: growing your business and maintaining a strong and trustworthy reputation.

Livermore added:

‘Together we can build a better used car industry for both consumers and business. It all starts by reading this guide.’

To download the guide or for more information on how to make sure your business is complying with consumer law visit the links posted earlier in the article. This piece was sponsored by the Chartered Trading Standards Institute.

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Car Dealer has been covering the motor trade since 2008 as both a print and digital publication. In 2020 the title went fully digital and now provides daily motoring updates on this website for the car industry. A digital magazine is published once a month.

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