When Mark Sells decided to lease a Volkswagen Up for his daughter, he wasn’t banking on acting illegally. His search started well when he was quoted an attractive rate by online broker Mad Sheep: £107 per month over four years.
Alarm bells rang when he read the Volkswagen Financial Services hire contract and spotted he was named as a business: ‘Mr Mark Sells T/as Business Consultant’. Since Mark doesn’t own a business, he was wary of signing. It felt wrong, so he cancelled his order.
It didn’t take long to find a second company, Fleet Prices, offering a similarly low rate: £106 per month. However, Mark soon realised this contract hire agreement also listed him as a business: ‘Mr Mark Sells T/as Mark Sells’. Mark contacted Helpdesk.
With two brokers now seemingly proposing him as a business, what should he do? We advised him not to sign. If he did, he’d be fraudulently passing himself off as a business, and the manufacturer could pursue legal action against him.
His insurer could also refuse to pay out in the event of an accident or theft.
Our investigations suggested an administrative error had caused Mark to be named as a business on his initial finance application via Mad Sheep. The information was then logged on Volkswagen Financial Services’ system and transferred to the new agreement arranged by Fleet Prices, despite the order documents clearly requesting a personal lease.
Since Mark had not yet cancelled his second order with Fleet Prices, it offered to honour its original quote but with Mark named correctly as a private individual. Mark accepted.
Fleet Prices said: ‘It seems when we sent Mr Sells for underwriting, the finance system automatically brought up the line of credit that was already open with VW Finance from his previous application.
‘We apologise wholeheartedly. We’re taking measures to ensure all finance company documents are checked against our records to prevent it recurring.’
Mad Sheep said: ‘We’ve apologised and given Mr Sells a full refund. We always try to ensure customers enter into only appropriate contracts.
‘On this occasion, that didn’t happen, although the documents were never served up to the finance house.’
What if this happens to you?
- Be wary of very low lease rates. Get written quotes detailing your personal circumstances and requirements.
- Read all documentation thoroughly. Never sign a legally binding contract that contains false information about you or your circumstances.
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