In the run-up to Christmas last year, Martin Harries and his family were excited about one particular present. They were pretty sure that they’d found their perfect family car – a two-year-old Vauxhall Meriva that looked fantastic value on the manufacturer’s Network Q-approved scheme at Go Vauxhall Croydon.
On New Year’s Eve, they had just enough time in their busy festive schedule to drop in to see the car on the forecourt, and managed to squeeze in a test drive in the rain before signing on the dotted line.
Martin picked up their new purchase a few days later, again in the early January gloom and wet. His drive home that evening confirmed that all was well, mechanically at least.
A couple of weeks later, the clouds lifted and the rain finally stopped. It was then that Martin set about giving the Meriva a good once-over with a bucket and sponge, only to find that the front bumper was a different colour from the rest of the car. Worse, it was misaligned, suggesting repair work had been carried out, something he hadn’t been informed about before handing over his money.
Martin got back in touch with Go Vauxhall immediately, and it was eventually agreed a respray and repair would be carried out. However, when he enquired about a courtesy car, the only option on the table came with an insurance excess of £1000 – a sum far greater than he was comfortable with.
In mid-February, Martin set out on his fourth 90-mile journey from home in Oxfordshire to Croydon to pick up his repaired Meriva. On arrival, though, he was dismayed to discover that the car now looked in worse condition than it had originally, with orange peel-effect paint and rough edges to the bumper.
Martin made it clear he was upset with the quality of the work, and Go Vauxhall agreed to a further respray. On the drive home, though, Martin had time to consider the situation properly, and decided enough was enough. Unsure about what to do about it, he contacted Helpdesk for advice, saying, ‘I have no confidence in the dealership having the car repaired to the necessary standard.’
Thankfully, the Sale of Goods Act exists to protect customers sold faulty or unsatisfactory quality goods, and we advised Martin to hand the Meriva back to Go Vauxhall. The dealer initially resisted his attempts to return the car, but after Helpdesk appealed to Vauxhall UK, the case was reviewed and the rejection finally accepted.
Martin was a happy man, and although he was offered a replacement Meriva, he decided to upgrade, choosing instead to pay £500 extra for a used Astra that Go Vauxhall was advertising.
What if this happens to you?
- Never leave your test drive until the last minute. Give yourself enough time to properly examine the car, and don’t be rushed by sales staff.
- Don’t view the car in bad weather or when it’s dark, because you’ll almost inevitably miss scratches and paint defects.
- If you’re not sure what to look for, take along someone who is, or log on to whatcar.com and download our Buying A Used Car checklist.
We've prepared lots of useful advice, including a full guide on warranties that could help you with either a new or used car.
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