Pledge to protect innocent customers as car dealer fined over false mileage

A car dealer advertised a car as having 37,000 less miles on the clock than it really had.

Saturday, 14th September 2019, 12:29 pm
Updated Sunday, 15th September 2019, 16:41 pm
The case was heard before Newton Aycliffe Magistrates' Court.

Sole trader Robert Watson, of Heath View, Station Town, has now been ordered to pay nearly £2,000 by magistrates after he was taken to court by consumer protection officers.

The hearing heard that a customer bought a Toyota Aygo from Watson for £4,300 in March 2018 after it was advertised online as having 63,000 miles.

But when the new owner inquired with a main dealership about the car's service history, he was told the Aygo's last known mileage was 100,759.

He was then offered no redress by Watson and nor did the dealer provide him with his address.

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Durham County Council was informed and a wider investigation revealed that Watson also advertised a Nissan Qashqai with “59,000 genuine miles” for sale when its last known mileage was 69,977.

Watson, 44, pleaded guilty at Newton Aycliffe Magistrates’ Court to two counts of engaging in misleading commercial practice relating to advertising vehicles with incorrect mileages.

He also admitted a further charge of engaging in a commercial practice with a misleading omission in that he failed to provide his business name and trading address.

In mitigation, his solicitor stated that Watson accepted the Aygo clock’s 63,000 reading – although he knew that it was responsibility to double check this.

Magistrates fined Watson £1,100 and ordered him to pay costs of £725 and a £55 victim surcharge.

The court was also told that he had paid the Aygo buyer an additional £1,500 in compensation as a result of a civil claim.

Joanne Waller, the council’s head of community protection services, said afterwards: "Mileage can significantly affect the value of a vehicle and is a major consideration for consumers.

“That is why traders should ensure they make all reasonable checks to ensure the mileages of vehicles are correct when they advertise them for sale.

"We are committed to protecting consumers in County Durham and this prosecution demonstrates that we will take action against traders who fail to comply with the law."

*For assistance with consumer related matters, contact the Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline on 03454 040 506.