A Baldock second-hand car showroom has been fined £5,000 for misleading customers with its descriptions of cars for sale. IS Cars Ltd, operating from a forecourt on Royston Road, pleaded not guilty to four offences under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 at Watford Magistrates Court.
Following a trial on Tuesday 25 March 2014, the company was found guilty of three of the four offences and fined a total of £5,000. IS Cars Ltd was also ordered to pay £2,000 costs and an additional £120 victim surcharge.
The offences were committed following an inspection of the site in December 2012.
A Skoda Octavia advertised as having a leather interior was found to have a cloth and leather interior. Meanwhile, a Ford Focus advertised with a full service history was sold with two stamps suggesting it had been serviced by a specific garage when it had not.
The offences occurred despite the business receiving written advice from Trading Standards earlier that year.
In mitigation, one of the company directors told the court that when vehicles are bought they are subject to a 64-point management inspection and an HPI check.
The Ford Focus was supplied to IS Cars Ltd with a full service history with stamps and there was no reason to question whether it was a genuine stamp or not. A full refund was given for the car. He also stated that the Skoda was a ‘performance model’ that had a leather and suede interior, suede being a form of leather.
Richard Thake, cabinet member for community safety at Hertfordshire County Council (HCC), commented on the issue. He said:
“Consumers must have confidence that they are buying a car, or any product, as it has been described by the seller. Misleading description is a serious offence and this has been recognised by the court.”
In August last year, the firm was also fined for selling two unroadworthy cars following an investigation conducted by Hertfordshire Trading Standards. A vehicle examiner had found one car purchased from the company for £1,200 had a faulty brake assembly, tyre and stop lamp, while another – an Audi A4 – was found to have faulty brakes, tyres and steering.