False mileages cost car dealer almost £2,000

Time 9:25 am, September 16, 2019

A CAR DEALER who advertised two vehicles for sale with far lower mileages has been ordered to pay out almost £2,000.

Robert Watson, of Heath View, Station Town, was investigated by Durham County Council’s consumer protection officers after the team was contacted by an unhappy customer.

Magistrates in Newton Aycliffe heard the man had bought a Toyota Aygo from Watson, a sole trader, who had advertised the vehicle online as having a mileage of 63,000. However, when the customer asked a main dealership about the car’s service history, he was told the Aygo’s last-known mileage was 100,759.

The customer, who paid £4,300 for the vehicle in March 2018, contacted Watson but wasn’t offered any redress. He was also unable to follow the guidance of Citizens Advice to write to Watson, as the car dealer hadn’t provided paperwork with his address, according to the council, which published details of the case last Friday.

The court was told that checks by consumer protection officers confirmed the last-known mileage was 100,759.

That prompted them to review previous online adverts placed by Watson, which uncovered a discrepancy with a Nissan Qashqai that had been advertised for sale in April 2018 with ‘59,000 genuine miles’. However, checks revealed the car’s last-known mileage was 69,977.

Watson, 44, pleaded guilty to two counts of engaging in misleading commercial practise relating to advertising vehicles with incorrect mileages. He also admitted a further charge of engaging in a commercial practice with a misleading omission, relating to failing to provide his business name and trading address.

In mitigation, the court was told Watson had stated the Aygo had covered 63,000 miles, as that was what it said on the clock, but he accepted that as a dealer it was his responsibility to check this. Watson’s solicitor said a new control system had been fitted to the Qashqai that resulted in the odometer showing an incorrect mileage. Watson claimed he had told the buyer about the discrepancy and they were happy to continue with the purchase.

The court was also told that the man who bought the Aygo had successfully pursued a civil claim against Watson, who had paid him £1,500 compensation.

Fining Watson £1,100 and ordering him to pay £725 costs plus a £55 victim surcharge, the JPs stated that as Watson had been trading for two years he should have been aware of his responsibilities. They also highlighted how innocent people had been misled into spending large amounts of money.

After the case, Joanne Waller, head of community protection services at the council, said: ‘Mileage can significantly affect the value of a vehicle and is a major consideration for consumers. That is why traders should ensure they make all reasonable checks to ensure the mileages of vehicles are correct when they advertise them for sale.

‘We are committed to protecting consumers in County Durham and this prosecution demonstrates that we will take action against traders who fail to comply with the law.’

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