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Some auctions are failing their customers

physical salvage auction
Remember auctions like these - seems like a lifetime ago now but at least you could see what you were buying!
We have come across some pretty poor treatment of readers by on-line auctions recently and if you buy on-line, you need to be aware.

The on-line auction has become a great way to buy vehicles and provided the information is correct and descriptions are accurate, there should not be a problem. Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case.

What do you do when the vehicle turns up and it isn’t what you expected. For example, we know of an Xtrail that was bought and when it arrived it appeared that many parts had been swapped for defective parts. The differential had been swapped for one with a cracked housing with the fixing bolts still loose, the calipers had been removed, window regulators removed and many engine ancillaries swopped. On another occasion, a vehicle that was described as four wheel drive turned out to be two wheel drive.

I am sure many of you have your own tales to tell, if so let us know, but in the meantime where do you stand. We all make mistakes and we can’t expect an auction house to be any different. It is how they deal with the situation when these mistakes occur that creates the problems.

It’s all well and good a company saying buyer beware or you should have checked for yourself, but the whole idea behind on-line auctions is that a level of trust must exist between buyer and seller. Otherwise we will be back to only having physical auctions so we can make sure we see the vehicle; and let’s face it that is not good for anyone.
So where do we stand?
The following has come from trading standards information regarding Internet auctions:
Certain information must be provided to potential buyers before a contract is made and that includes a description of the item. Under the Sale of Goods Act 1979, the buyer is entitled to goods that are as described, of satisfactory quality, fit for their purpose and that the seller has the right to sell. Let’s face it, describing something as four wheel drive when it is two wheel drive is not as described.

Where the buyer is a business, the seller can use contract terms to limit their liability, but only if the exclusions are reasonable. Again, if you come across what you consider unreasonable exclusions, let us know.

If buyers are outside the UK, do not assume that disputes will be dealt with under UK law or in the UK courts. Consumer buyers in the EU generally have the protection of the laws and courts of their own country. The information and cancellation rules are consistent throughout the EU but other consumer rights may vary between countries.

Please be aware that according to Trading Standards, this information is intended for guidance; only the courts can give an authoritative interpretation of the law.

In the example of the 4x4 above, when the buyer contacted the auction house he was told that it was up to him to check the vehicle specification. What do you do when you go on-line and the bulk of the VIN number and the registration number are blocked out, this isn’t an easy option to check. The auction has suggested he should have called and checked the details with them. If they can’t get the information correct on the website, then who’s to say they will give you any better information when contacting them. That said, if in any doubt, always ring them to confirm any details. Perhaps if they get sick of all of us calling about each vehicle they will put a bit more effort into describing vehicles more accurately.

We need to get these issues sorted out. If you are having similar problems email us here let us know so we can follow them up.

February 2015

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