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common complaints and case studies



my car's faulty - but the business say they're not responsible

Sometimes people tell us they’re having problems with their car - but the garage or finance provider say they’re not responsible.

  • There can be confusion about who’s responsible - and we’ve seen some finance providers tell people they have to sort things out with the garage. This can be a practical first step but by law, finance providers - including credit card companies - have certain responsibilities if things go wrong.
  • Hire purchase agreements are covered by the Consumer Rights Act 2015 (previously the Supply of Goods Act) - and the finance provider is responsible. By law, they need to ensure the car is of satisfactory quality and that it’s as it’s been described. For example, if it was advertised as having alloy wheels it should have that feature.
  • If someone’s taken a loan through the garage or used a credit card, section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act 1974 applies and the finance provider is responsible for putting things right.


my car's faulty and the business is saying I damaged it ...

Some people tell us that they’re having problems with their car but the garage or finance provider say the car wasn’t faulty when it was sold.

  • To decide whether a car was of satisfactory quality when it was sold, we’ll look at evidence about its condition. This might include emails and phone calls, photos, invoices for repairs and reports from any breakdowns and inspections.
  • We’ll also take into account the car’s age, cost and mileage - as well as how it was sold. For example, if a car was advertised as “suitable for spares”, it’s probably reasonable to expect it to have faults.
  • If we decide a car wasn’t of satisfactory quality, we’ll suggest a fair, pragmatic way to put things right. We might tell the finance provider to pay for repairs, refund some or all repayments someone’s made towards the car, or cancel the finance and take the car back.
  • People sometimes tell us they’ve been inconvenienced or left out of pocket. If we agree - and it’s down to the finance provider’s mistake (or garage’s when arranging the finance) - we’ll tell the business to pay compensation.


case study 1

Miss G bought a van on finance. Soon after, the van developed several problems - so she tried to return the van and cancel her finance agreement.

The finance company said she couldn’t cancel her agreement, because their engineer had found the problems were caused by wear and tear. But shortly after, a second mechanic said the van was in bad shape when Miss G bought it.

This second report identified when the problems had started - before Miss G bought the van - while the first report hadn’t suggested when the problems might have begun. On balance, we decided the van had had problems when Miss G bought it - so we told the finance company to let her cancel the finance and return the van.



the car isn't what I expected ...

Some people complain to us that the car they’ve been sold isn’t what they expected. They might be unhappy with the condition or features of the car - saying the advert or the dealership didn’t make these clear.

  • Whatever type of car finance someone’s used - and whatever law applies - a car needs to match its description. So we’ll compare the actual details of the car with how it was advertised or sold - and decide whether it’s been misrepresented.
  • In particular, we’ll look at the information someone was given about the car before they bought it. This might be adverts they saw, brochures they were given, or conversations they had with the garage or dealership.
  • If we think someone’s been given information that’s inaccurate - and they relied on this information when deciding to buy the car - we’ll tell the finance provider to put things right. Depending on the circumstances, this may mean letting someone return the car - and refunding some or all of the repayments they’ve made towards it.
  • If someone’s been inconvenienced or left out of pocket because of the finance provider’s actions, we’ll tell them to pay compensation.

case study 2

Mr W bought a car on finance, but he found it was too small for him to drive comfortably. Mr W had tested the car without problem - but his model had a sunroof which reduced the headroom. When Mr W tried to reject the car, the finance company said he should have checked the car was suitable.

The sales brochure Mr W had seen hadn’t mentioned the sunroof would reduce headroom. Mr W wasn’t tall - so as this could have affected a number of buyers, we thought it should have been mentioned. We decided Mr W wouldn’t have bought the car if he’d known - so we told the finance company to cancel the finance agreement, refunding 30% of the payments Mr W had made to reflect his discomfort in driving the car.



I can't afford the repayments for my car ...

Sometimes people tell us they’re having problems with their finance agreement. They might say they can’t afford it any more - or shouldn’t have been offered it at all.

  • If someone’s unhappy with how the finance agreement was set up - for example, the information they were given about it - the dealership may be responsible. But in some cases, the dealership might have been acting on the finance provider’s behalf - so the finance provider could be responsible. We can help to explain how things stand.
  • People often tell us they’re unhappy that either the interest rate or monthly payments have changed unexpectedly. To decide what’s fair, we’ll look into how the finance was sold and what information the business gave about it.
  • We’ll also look into the customer’s individual circumstances - and decide whether the finance was affordable. If it wasn’t ever affordable we might tell the business to cancel it and refund any payments - taking into account the use someone’s had of the car. On the other hand, if we think the arrangement was fair and affordable, we’ll explain why.
  • If someone’s having trouble meeting their repayments, we’ll check whether and when they told the finance provider. And we’ll check whether the finance provider responded sympathetically. If they didn’t, we may tell them to pay compensation. Either way, a fair option may be for them to take back the car.

case study 3

Miss E was struggling with her hire purchase payments, so she agreed to voluntarily surrender the car. But when the finance company took the car, she said she hadn’t given them her written consent - so she was entitled to all her money back.

We listened to the calls Miss E had made to the finance company, telling them to take the car. She told them she’d sent a letter with her consent to take the car - and when they didn’t received it, she said she’d send another letter. We appreciated Miss E might have had second thoughts, but we thought it was clear she’d wanted to surrender the car. So we thought the finance company had acted fairly.



I didn't know there'd be an excess mileage charge ...

Some people tell us they didn’t know there’d be an extra charge at the end of their finance agreement if they went over a certain number of miles.

  • Some people are confused about which business to complain to when they’ve been charged a fee for excess mileage. Sometimes the garage is responsible for arranging the finance - but they might have been arranging it on behalf of the finance provider. We can help to explain how things stand - and move things forward.
  • We’ll ask the business and their customer to tell us what happened when the finance was arranged. We’ll establish whether there was a discussion about a mileage cap - or about the number of miles someone expected to drive. We’ll also look at the documentation someone was given, to see whether any cap and charges were made clear.
  • We’ll need to decide what’s most likely to have happened - which includes thinking about someone’s previous experience. If someone’s had car finance before, it may be more likely they’d know that an excess mileage charge could apply.
  • If we think the charge is fair, we’ll explain why. But if it wasn’t made clear in the documents - and wasn’t discussed - we might tell the business to cancel some or all of the charge.

need help?

If you can’t find what you’re looking for here - or you’d like to talk to someone - give us a call ...

consumer helpline - 0800 023 4567
our technical advice desk (for businesses and consumer advisers) - 020 7964 1400

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