Talking to a colleague of mine during the week, he had a story that made him pretty angry the previous weekend. He’s in the market for a “people carrier” to cater for his expanding family so had been doing some internet searches around Dublin garages.
He found one in Sandyford, but since he lives on the north side, he rang first to make sure he wouldn’t be making a wasted trip. The salesman confirmed the asking price for the people carrier, as well as giving a provisional valuation on the car to be traded in – to be confirmed when he saw the car.
So, the trip was made, but when my colleague arrived, the salesman increased the cost of the people carrier by €3,000 saying that he’d made a mistake on the phone (and by extension on the internet).
On top of that, he dropped the trade-in price my colleagues own car by €3000 as well – saying that now that he saw the car, he would have to drop the offer.
The salesman tried to say that at least it wasn’t a wasted trip, but on seeing a €6,000 turnaound in expected costs my colleague obviously wasn’t convinced.
From the salesman perspective, I suppose he was somewhat happy to at least have had someone in the door given how tough their business is at the moment. You never know, someone less determined in their requirements could have been convinced to have made the purchase.
A similar scenario was covered by Dermott Jewell in his weekly article in the Irish News of the World recently as well. Mr. Jewell claimed that the salesman had done nothing wrong in this situation.
With regards to the trade-in price, that’s definitely the case. Whether or not my colleague was happy with the trade-in price, the salesman is entitled to offer whatever he wants when he sees it. It’s common practice for garages to offer derisory money for the trade-in of cars if they’re cars that they don’t want to have on their hands to resell.
However, with regards to the increase in the asking price for the people carrier, I think that the salesman is guilty of an offence under the Consumer Protection Act, 2007. Obviously, that would imply that the National Consumer Agency (NCA) would actually follow up on a complaint – but none the less, the complaint should be made.
This act prohibits misleading practices – as per the NCA website:
Misleading Practices prohibited by the Act
A misleading practice involves providing false misleading and deceptive information. Misleading advertising, misleading information and withholding material information are considered misleading practices. The main characteristics of a misleading action are false or inaccurate information on:
- the existence or nature of the product/service,
- the main characteristics, including its availability at a particular time, place, or at a particular price,
- usage and prior history,
- the price of the product/service, the manner in which the price was calculated or the existence and nature of a specific price advantage, and the legal right of a consumer (whether contractual or otherwise) or matters relating to when and how or in what circumstances those rights may be exercised.
In the example of my colleague, the price was advertised over the internet, and subsequently confirmed over the phone, so the salesman was clearly misleading my colleague with the intention of enticing hime into the garage on false pretences.