'Fair play' laws for dealers coming soon

April 10, 2008 | By | In Statistics

Changes in the law will give buyers extra protection. The motor trade welcomes the move.

Car dealers are readying themselves for a batch of new laws coming into force, courtesy of the EU. The legal changes seek to outlaw high-pressure sales techniques and misleading claims, and they’re something that the trade is happy with.

The National Franchised Dealers Association, which acts as a voice for many of motoring’s biggest retailers, says existing rules aren’t tough enough.

‘They do not provide a full safeguard for consumers,’ said Sue Robinson, NFDA director. ‘There are remaining grey areas which can be exploited by unscrupulous traders.’

The Unfair Commercial Practices Directive passes into law on May 26. It list practices , which it will prohibit in all EU countries. These include: high pressure selling, implying that the consumer can’t leave until they sign a contract, misleading marketing, falsely claiming to adhere to an industry code of conduct. Motors.co.uk’s own survey of buyers shows that being duped into buying a bad car without comeback ranked among their biggest fears when purchasing. Many go to big dealerships principally because they seem them as more trustworthy than other sellers. And those fears explain why Motors.co.uk offers free basic history checks on cars sold from this site.

The NFDA says the changes give dealers an added incentive to focus on their relationships with customers. But complying with the new laws will also mean more paperwork for dealer staff to complete.

The Association also warns that the Directive leaves questions open about the ‘burden of proof’ if a dispute arises. Top law firm Pinsent Masons says the key test would be whether the seller’s approach ‘unfairly distorted’ the customer’s decisions. Policing the new law will fall to trading standards officers employed by city and county councils. Many are already over-worked and will struggle to respond should buyers complain.

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