Waterlooville motorist Mark Harrison was left raging after a £13,000 used Ford Kuga car he bought with an expensive finance package repeatedly broke down only days after he took delivery.
The 48-year-old lorry driver soon found himself locked in a protracted bitter battle with Waterlooville Car Supermarket and his finance company when he tried to reject the car because it wasn’t mechanically up to scratch at the time of sale.
He was stunned when he learned he was still expected to stump up £336 a month and pay for unresolved faults with the motor despite it persistently letting him down.
A traumatised Mark had been considering buying another car when he realised his Vauxhall Vectra had long since seen better days.
‘I test drove and signed up to an Advantage Finance HP agreement for the Kuga at Waterlooville Car Supermarket dealership on March 29,’ he said.
‘I was locked into repaying with interest almost £19,000 for five years, so it wasn’t exactly a cheap motor.’
‘Within days of buying it the engine management light unexpectedly lit up on the dashboard.
‘I contacted the dealer’s garage to diagnose and fix the problem, but despite three attempts to fix it the warning light still kept reappearing, and the car suddenly lost power.
‘The mechanic told me to take it on a long motorway drive because it was probably just a blocked diesel particulate filter that needed clearing.
‘I did an 80-mile round trip to Guildford but with my foot flat down I couldn’t get the car to go any faster than 60 miles per hour.’
‘The garage insisted it would take them another week to get the car sorted.’
Mark was furious that his new car needed major repair work just as his wife Donna and their two children were due to set off to Cornwall on a short pre-planned break.
He says the dealership was adamant they couldn’t arrange or pay for a courtesy car so at the last moment an increasingly frustrated Mark had to arrange for a loan car so the family’s holiday plans weren’t left in tatters.
He contacted Citizens’ Advice and trading standards to find out where he stood. They confirmed he had a legal right to reject the car provided he notified Advantage Finance within 30 days from purchase.
In the meantime he took it to a Ford mechanic and dealership for a health check.
They reported that the four- year-old Kuga had a blocked diesel particulate filter and an oil leak. A fuel vaporiser also required replacing. The essential maintenance repairs would set him back a further £1,200.
An exasperated Mark says the bill bombshell was the final straw. He emailed the finance company and the dealership saying he’d lost confidence in the car because they couldn’t do a good job putting it right. He told them he didn’t want it and to cancel the HP agreement.
But the wrangle moved up a further notch when he received a three-page report from Advantage Finance disputing his legal right to send the car back.
It said an independent expert had examined the car and concluded the performance issues were all down to a sudden failure that wasn’t present when he bought it.
As the car had a clean MoT and met the legal satisfactory quality test at the time of sale, the repair costs were all down to him.
Mark said he felt he’d been short-changed and asked Streetwise to get on the case.
We got in touch with Advantage Finance and put it to them they were responsible for fixing unresolved faults, that by law, the dealer was obliged to correct.
But they flatly refused to talk to us about his complaint and said they weren’t prepared to comment on individual cases. Disputes were referred to the Financial Ombudsman service.
We advised Mark the weight of the law was on his side. He was only required to give the dealer one chance to carry out satisfactory repairs and they’d flunked it.
In our view the report wasn’t persuasive because a full mechanical examination hadn’t been carried out. It just wasn’t plausible that the defects Mark had complained about could have arisen within days of taking delivery of the car.
Just hours after our further intervention the finance company and dealership raised the white flag. They agreed to cancel the deal and refund all Mark’s money.
Waterlooville Car Supermarket director, Bob Fox, told Streetwise he was surprised that the complaint had escalated because he’d always been willing to help. The company adhered to strict trading standard’s guidelines before they put any car up for sale.
He’d offered to have any problems with the car rectified by the local main Ford Dealer at no expense.
He said: ‘We pride ourselves on good, honest customer service.
‘I’ve made the decision to unwind this deal with the finance company and the customer has agreed to bring the car back to our dealership which has been agreed by all parties involved.
‘I don’t wish to enter into a disagreement with any of our clients. I’m disappointed it has come to this, however I feel it’s the best course of action in this case.’
Mark felt fully vindicated by the outcome.
He said: ‘I wasn’t having it. They just messed me around and couldn’t fix the car. I’m still more than £1,000 out of pocket after paying for taxi fares, fuel, alternative transport, and independent garage reports.
‘A great weight has been lifted off my mind. I cannot thank you enough for all your help. Without it I’m sure I would have got nowhere.’