Brakes drove us to despair, say owners of new Volkswagen Tiguan
But a couple of weeks ago mum Emma Parker and dad Mat could take no more of the inexplicable emergency stalling they say they had experienced with the vehicle and the constant dread of when it might strike next.
“In the year we have had our car it has spent no less than eight weeks in the Volkswagen dealership in Ipswich for testing and replacements,” explained Emma. “Yet we keep being told there is no fault.”
But where did they stand if they rejected the car, what rights did they have or were risking with such a move, they asked Crusader.
The couple, who have young children, paid for their sports utility Tiguan SEL with a £6,000 deposit and a hire-purchase finance deal involving repayments of £241.85 a month.
“We reported the first fault after six weeks and just 1,500 miles,” recalls Emma.
“All told, the automated emergency braking Front Assist system activated the audible alarm and the urgent braking warning on more than 10 occasions for no apparent reason on right-hand bends.
“We recorded several on the dash cam. It has happened on main and side roads, sometimes but not always the same location, once forcing us to swerve. It does not seem to be a one-off and we have lost confidence in the car.”
It does not seem to be a one-off and we have lost confidence in the car
The Parkers rightly continued to service their agreement, and the last time the car was being tested, they were given a courtesy one.
After making VW aware of the problem as well, they were offered £4,500 recently to return the car and end the deal.
“But as we have paid almost £9,000 so far, we would be £4,000 out of pocket,” added Mat.
“Even though it can be argued we have used the car, we would say this was not what we wanted when we signed, and our ownership has been fraught and spasmodic.”
In a statement Volkswagen said: “The car in question has been thoroughly examined by qualified Volkswagen technicians and no fault found.
“Any automatic braking interventions generated by the Front Assist system can always be overruled by the driver of the vehicle.
“The owner’s manual explains how the Front Assist system can be adjusted to give ‘early’, ‘medium’ or ‘late’ warnings and how the system can be switched off entirely for a journey, if required.”
Braking troubles with a new Volkswagen Tiguan forced a family to take it back repeatedly
To help the Parkers decide their next move and the possibility of complaining to the Financial Ombudsman (FOS) under the credit deal’s breach of contract terms, Crusader sought guidance on their rights.
“If they reject the courtesy vehicle must be returned,” says consumer legal expert Joanne Lezemore of advice site consumer-genie.co.uk.
“When you buy a car, pursuant to the Consumer Rights Act (CRA) 2015, it must be fit for purpose. If it is not, depending on when the fault occurs, you will have a remedy against the retailer and/or the finance company. With hire purchase the goods belong to the finance company until the agreement terms are complied with.
“A repair must make the car of satisfactory quality and be completed within a reasonable amount of time. If not a consumer can ask for a price reduction or opt for rejection.”
The Parkers have decided on the latter course, and are now taking their complaint to the FOS.
It can look at the issue of satisfactory quality and the more breakdown reports they can supply detailing what happened, when and any work that has been done, the better. This could also have an impact on any reasonableness test that is applied, for example if the car has travelled say 100,000 miles it might be reasonable to expect some issues etc).
Should a customer return any hire car and continue to drive the car in contention, this would not undermine any complaint.
In a key point Lezemore also recommends the Parkers get full details of any settlement offered so far, including reasons for it.
For more information go to consumer-genie.co.uk and financial-ombudsman.org.uk/publications/technical_notes/car-finance
One of the most popular forms of credit offered by car dealers is the PCP
BUYING A CAR WITH CREDIT – KNOW YOUR DEAL AND YOUR RIGHTS
One of the most popular forms of credit offered by car dealers is the personal contract purchase (PCP) agreement. This is the kind Emma and Mat Parker have.
It’s flexible and works well for those who like to drive an up-to-date vehicle but still have a limited budget.
There is a difference between hire purchase agreements (the PCP falls into this category) and connected credit agreements, says consumer law expert, solicitor Joanne Lezemore.
She explains: If you have a connected credit agreement, any claim for breach of contract can be brought against the dealer, the finance company or both.
When you purchase with HP, the goods belong to the finance company until the terms of the HP agreement are complied with.
If goods sold are faulty, then the consumer can reject outright within the first 30 days and request a full refund. Under the Consumer Rights Act (CRA), after that time, the consumer can ask for a repair or replacement, but the trader can chose the most cost effective solution, so that would usually be a repair.
However, a repair must make the car conform to contract (i.e. to be of satisfactory quality), and must be completed within a reasonable period of time. If they do not then the consumer can ask for a price reduction or opt for the final right to reject.
If the final right to reject is chosen, then under the CRA, as the customers are rejecting after a period of 6 months, they can request a refund of the payments made so far, but this is not the full amount.
In this case VW can reduce the amount to be paid for the use the Parkers have had of the vehicle. But no deduction may be made to take account of any period when they had it, but VW refused to collect it.
They will not be able to claim for non-use of the car when they were in use of a hire vehicle. In the goods guidance for businesses the CRA indicates that the deduction should reflect the use the consumer has had of the item, prior to its rejection.
A repair must make the car conform to contract (i.e. to be of satisfactory quality)
It makes the following points:
- the trader must be able to show that the reduction reflects the use that the consumer has had, rather than, for example, reducing the refund to the second-hand value of the goods;
- the trader can consider all relevant information (for example the type of goods, the intended use, expected lifespan, etc.) when assessing how much use the consumer has had and what level of deduction would be appropriate to reflect this;
- for example, in the case of a car, the trader would have evidence of the mileage, whereas for other goods the trader might need to assess the wear and tear that the goods show. In some situations there may be no evidence either way;
- the deduction should not take account of any time that the goods were with the trader for repair or assessment of the fault because the consumer had no use of them at that time;
- the trader cannot take account of any use the consumer had at any times when it had agreed to collect the goods but was late or did not do so; and
- if a consumer challenges a deduction the trader will need to be able to justify its calculation so it is good practice to be able to show objective criteria or information that the calculation is based on.
Also, no claim can be made for inconvenience or the stress covered in legal proceedings however, the Financial Ombudsman does have the power to make an award in this regard and therefore it is important to ask for it when submitting a claim.
With regard to the hire vehicle, if the rejection stance is being taken, this will need to be returned.
And as pointed out above it is certainly worthwhile if a settlement cannot be reached, customers should specifically request that the company sets out the reasons for, and a breakdown, of the offer made to date.