approved used car scandal

Our Approach

We have been campaigning for over 7 years, and have led the complaint investigation with the Advertising Standards Agency which has resulted in the recent finding in our favour that a vehicle purchased from an Alfa Romeo dealer was misdescribed.

We have also asked the Transport Select Committee  on numerous occasions by phone and by e-mail to take action and to table this subject. Ms Louise Ellman MP the chair of the select committee (until the latest general election) and her staff refused to communicate with us. During the dissolved government while the election was taking place Ms Ellman informed us by e-mail that the matter would be dealt with under the newly elected committee after government was reformed. Ms Ellman even went on record to the Daily mail in February 2017 stating “I will ask the committee to consider the possibility of an inquiry’- no such action has been taken.

We contacted staff at the select committee after the committee was reformed but again, no action was taken. It seems the committee are very keen to ask questions and hold others to account but are absolutely unwilling to answer questions with regard to its own lack of action.

Parliament at great expense to the the tax payer got the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 onto the statue book, but has done next to nothing to encourage or force local Trading Standards to bring prosecutions under the CPT”S, despite MP’s from all major parties stating this is an abuse of regulations and consumers. Please see the comments on the Official Statements page and when they were made, and it becomes clear that MP’s and each incumbent government cares little for consumers in this matter, and appear not to want to do anything to harm motor manufacturers profits.

In the VW emissions scandal the EU has been unable to fine VW and is looking to Member States to bring action. It has recently said that it plans to take legal action against the UK and Germany for not doing enough. The same could happen in this Used Car Scandal.

Our Story

Now that the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has upheld our complaint and issued a formal ruling of its investigation, we are in a strong position to further our campaign. We would now expect the the Committee of Advertising Practice to stringently monitor the industry in accordance with the ruling and the statement they made to us:

“Although the ruling refers specifically to the circumstances of the advertised cars in question, we expect the industry to take on board the general principle of the ruling which is that if advertising a car which has not previously been in private ownership (eg. ex-hire) they may well need to include this information in the ad to avoid misleading consumers, and I understand that the CAP advice will touch on this broad principle. We consider that we need to give reasonable time for the industry to make changes following the ruling and that guidance. We also note that guidance from the Society of Chief Officers of Trading Standards in Scotland (SCOTTS) which is likely to be directly relevant to this issue is likely to be issued shortly. Given those two facts we do not consider that, at this time, it would be right for the ASA to conduct further investigations regarding the disclosure of information about previous use, such as ex-hire, in ads for used cars”.“I write in response to your emails of 12, 14 and 20 October. It might be helpful if I first outline how the ASA and CAP intend to follow up on our investigation into Glyn Hopkin and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles UK Ltd. CAP is our industry facing sister organisation who undertake work as follow up compliance work stemming from ASA investigations as well as their Copy Advice team providing advice and guidance to the industry, for example in advice articles on our joint website www.asa.org.uk. We think it is important that CAP offer guidance to the industry on what the ruling means for them and what our expectations are of them. CAP will therefore communicate the ruling and accompanying guidance to the industry, and they will also be publishing guidance for advertisers in this sector on the website. I can confirm that the principles of the ruling are applicable to the industry as a whole and not just those named in this particular case”.We would now expect The Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP the other half of the Advertising standards Authority that is responsible for enforcing the rulings and in this case widening the ruling out from just Fiat Chrysler to the entire Motor Manufacturers industry and dealers, as all motor manufactures are committing this breach) to stringently monitor the industry in accordance wiht the ruling and the statement they made to us:

“However, if in 2018, and once that guidance has been issued by SCOTTS (and taking into account any grace period in that guidance or any other relevant factors), you remain concerned and believe you have an example of a specific ad where such information has not been disclosed (and have grounds for that belief) then we would be able to consider that complaint on its merits. You asked in your email earlier today why the ASA asks to see specific ad examples. Our complaint handling procedures make clear that complainants must send us the ad to which their complaint refers and in investigating complaints we do need to consider specific ads so we can consider how they will be understood by consumers – as an ad regulator we cannot undertake speculative investigations or look at a business practise in general”.

“I hope that my email has provided you with some more certainty about what actions are being undertaken following the ruling. Because the case is now closed, and CAP are undertaking that follow up work, the ASA won’t be undertaking further work in this area at this time and I would therefore kindly request that you don’t contact us about it further until such time as you have cause to make a specific complaint in line with the above considerations”.

Should the above steps not be taken, the ASA and CAP will be fully aware that industry mis-advertising is continuing on an industrial scale.

The ASA states on its website that, “advertisements that break the Codes can be withdrawn swiftly without needing to resort to legal action”. However it has taken them 18 month to come to its conclusion in this case, during which time approximately 1.5 million more cars have been falsely advertised and mis-sold. We do not think that period of 18 months can be considered a swift.

Other government agencies were involved in this investigation including the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy and the Society of Chief Officers of Trading Standards in Scotland.

Our goal is to stop this illegal practice from continuing and preventing consumers from being duped into buying ex-rental and ex-lease cars illegally, inflating the number of sales of these ex-hire and ex-lease cars and inflating and the agreed purchase price and artificially and illegally boosting the manufacturers’ and dealers ​profits.

We are seeking to enable affected consumers to obtain justice where they have been mis-sold a vehicle in this way and obtain to compensation for the same. We will continue to campaign to the ASA, Trading Standards and Parliament to stop this practice from continuing in the future.

Successive governments since CPUT was introduced in 2008 have effectively done nothing to protect consumers in this situation by using the powers it introduced through the agencies empowered to do so.

By failing to act, the government is either idle in this situation or complicit – in that they do not want to do anything to damage the motor manufacturing industry, even if its profit being generated illegally at the expense of its citizens, the tax paying and voting public. It must therefore be asked if it is a proportionate response, for the government to allow wide-spread criminal activity by the motor manufactures, in order not to upset the motor manufacturers or put jobs at risk.

I am sure the government would rather been seen as apposed to complicit, however helps helps their cause.

No doubt Brexit has some part to play in the government not getting involved in this situation, as it fears large companies might need little encouragement to re-locate. However this situation has existed under numerous governments long before Brexit nothing was done then either.

CPUT was implemented in the UK as a result of a European directive being passed down, and yet the government has ensured even a minimum level of enforcement through its agencies or through trading standards, and has therefore failed in it duties in this regard since CPUT was introduced.

approved car scandal

                                                 I’m expecting the trades descriptions

                                                        wallies to pop round today

 

approved car scandal

Hire Car outlet

An outlet where cars are leased before being sold by car manufacturers on their used car websites.

approved used car sales scandal

Car Supermarkets

Many of these cars are likely to have been ex-hire or ex-lease cars

Next Steps…

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