Consumer complaints

Time 5:43 am, August 29, 2012

USED cars bought from independent dealers has topped the list of the Citizens Advice helpline, it has been revealed.

Dodgy used motors came out on top ahead of complaints about mobile phone contracts, building work and troublesome TVs, in a list of the ten most complained about consumer issues between April and June of this year.

Repairs from an independent garage came fourth in the Citizens Advice helpline’s list, and second hand cars from a franchised dealer was the tenth most complained about issue.

In total, Citizens Advice callers spent £55m on used cars from independent dealers where the car or the assistance from the dealer was not up to scratch.

Two thirds of the complaints about independent used car dealers were about the car being faulty and more than one in 10 revolved around salespeople giving misleading information about the vehicle.

It’s not just the Citizens Advice consumer service which has been helping people with their car troubles – during the same period, Citizens Advice Bureau in England and Wales dealt with more than 3,500 problems around second hand cars including the car being unsafe or not working properly.


Now Citizens Advice wants to see a robust approved code introduced for the second hand car market which will help buyers filter the good dealers from the bad by identifying the sellers willing to go the extra mile to make sure their customers get a car that is in good working order and one they are happy with.

Citizens Advice chief executive Gillian Guy said: ‘It’s time these dealers parked their sharp practices. People save for years to update their car or buy one for the first time.

‘If you’re not a motor head, stepping onto a used car dealer’s forecourt can feel like entering a lion’s den. But there are things consumers can do to protect themselves, like looking out for unusually low mileage on an old car, which could mean it’s been tampered with.’

Motor Codes’ managing director, Chris Mason, responded: ‘Despite the vast majority of garages and car retailers upholding the very best service standards, these figures are impossible to gloss over and demonstrate why some consumers are nervous about buying used cars.

‘One of the most important pieces of advice offered by Citizens Advice is to find a reliable retailer, to seek recommendation and to find a seller that operates to an existing motor industry code of practice.

‘Motor Codes currently offers consumers an online garage finder and customer review facility for thousands of garages across the UK committed to our New Car and Service and Repair codes of practice and, if asked, we will work with Citizens Advice to explore the most effective way of directing people to responsible used car sellers.’

James Batchelor's avatar

James – or Batch as he’s known – started at Car Dealer in 2010, first as the work experience boy, eventually becoming editor in 2013. He worked for Auto Express as editor-at-large and was the face of Carbuyer’s YouTube reviews. In 2020, he went freelance and now writes for a number of national titles and contributes regularly to Car Dealer. In October 2021 he became Car Dealer's associate editor.

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