Reporter: Laura Wild
Date online: 13 April 2011
Trading Standards staff at Rochdale Borough Council have been praised by the Council Leader, Councillor Colin Lambert, for their role in the prosecution of webuyanycar.com.
Earlier this month Rochdale Online reported that the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) had taken enforcement action against the Rochdale based company over concerns that its online valuations were misleading.
An OFT investigation found that nearly 96 per cent of customers who sold their car to webuyanycar.com received less for their vehicle than the original website valuation, sometimes by hundreds of pounds.
Consumers were given the impression that they would be paid the online valuation if the company's onsite inspection matched the condition entered by the seller online. But once at the appointment, some customers found that other factors reduced the final price from the headline valuation, including 'market conditions'. The OFT also found that vehicle inspectors were set targets regarding the purchase of vehicles, sometimes to reduce the valuation offered by up to 25 per cent, upon reappraisal.
Furthermore, sellers were given the impression that the online quote was valid for seven days, so were encouraged to make an appointment quickly. The OFT was concerned that, once at webuyanycar.com's premises, consumers might accept a reduced valuation, even if they were unhappy with it, because of the time and expense already incurred, or because their personal circumstances meant they needed a quick sale.
Officers at Rochdale Council were heavily involved in the case and were congratulated by Councillor Lambert at a meeting of full council.
He said: “It was a successful operation by Trading Standards. Congratulations to all staff involved.”