John Boxall believed he was in for many years trouble free motoring when he splashed out £15,275 on a brand new Citroen C3 motor.
But just six months down the line the car proved to be unreliable after it kept conking out and its on board computer diagnostic system went haywire, repeatedly throwing up a series of baffling multiple faults.
The Portsmouth pensioner told Streetwise he was on his ninth Citroen car. He’d been loyal to the brand for as many years as he could remember.
Last October he decided his former set of wheels had seen better days and it was time to invest in a new one.
He’d taken a particular shine to the stylish Citroen C3 model, so it came as second nature to place an order for one with the Portsmouth dealership, Richmond Motors.
Initially John was delighted with his new car, but he was unwell for a few months and hardly drove it at all until the following July.
John, 80, said: ‘Things started flashing up on the on-board screen, like I’d got a puncture, I was skidding, and the steering castor angle was wrong - all sorts of weird things..
‘The error messages kept happening and on each occasion I had to go back to Richmond for them to plug into the car’s computer system and correct the faults.
‘On one occasion I was down Festing Road, picking up my laundry when I went to start the car and found it was absolutely dead.
‘I tried ringing the Citroen assistance number from the car’s internal system which by now I knew by heart, but I found it useless because the car’s computer had inexplicably switched the operational language from English to French.
‘Eventually a Citroen guy came out and plugged into the car’s diagnostic management system when it came up with more than 30 faults, including sporadic error present, starter control error, and no communication fault entry.
‘When eventually the car suddenly started I was making my way back to the Richmond dealership along the Eastern Road, when it started kangarooing.
‘The following day, I went back to the dealership who told me Citroen France had instructed them to replace the steering rack, which they did.
‘It behaved itself for a week until it failed to start for about an hour then came up with about 27 fault codes on the AA engineer’s computer readout.’
Just a year down the line and with only 1,836 miles on the clock, a worried and frustrated John told the Citroen dealership sales manager that he believed the car was not fit for purpose.
To their credit and without any hesitation or quibble Richmond accepted the car was a lemon. John was immediately given a loan car while arrangements were agreed with Citroen to replace it.
But if John thought that was the end of his troubles, he was mistaken. To his astonishment a few weeks later he got an email from a Citroen UK customer care manager which left him devastated.
After apologising for the problems with the rogue car, he was offered a £500 discount - as a gesture of goodwill and without admission of liability – on condition he bought another new one.
An astounded angry John pointed out the offer was preposterous. It meant he’d end up buying two new cars in the space of a year just to replace one of them, and with only a risible £500 in compensation.
When he got onto Citroen customer care to say their offer was absurd and not to be taken seriously, a manger told him he should consider himself lucky as it wasn’t often they could authorise a £500 pay-out.
John decided the derisory offer amounted to highway robbery and it was time to call in Streetwise for help to fight his corner.
When we got onto Citroen we pointed out the offer they’d made John for what amounted to a significant breach of contract didn’t comply with contract law.
As a buyer of an unsatisfactory car he was entitled to be put back into a situation as if the breach never occurred, either by replacing it with a comparable model or a refund of the purchase price.
We reminded them they’d taken back his new car with less than 2,000 miles on the clock and its value had deteriorated when he drove it from the showroom by roughly 30 per cent amounting to £2,620.
The only monetary deduction they could lawfully make was a small sum to cover the minimal usage he had from the car before they repossessed it.
Within a few days of our intervention, John learned that Citroen had decided to reconsider their opening offer.
‘I’m not sure what you put to them,’ he said, ‘but I had a call from the Sales Manager at Richmond Motors about a replacement C3 for the faulty one.
‘Given that the original C3 was a year old and that the replacement will be brand new, I have agreed to pay Richmond £1500.00.
‘This includes £700.00 for the larger engine and £250.00 for an "extras “pack, £120.00 for one year’s Road Tax, and £55.00 for the first Registration fee.
I’m very happy with that and though delivery will be in ten weeks I can keep the C3 Aircross loan car until my new C3 arrives.
‘I’d like to thank you for your welcome assistance in this matter which has proven invaluable.
‘You really are a people’s champion.’