Sometimes life teaches you a really harsh lesson. One that hurts to learn; physically, mentally and financially. Last year I learnt, through a horrible experience, the hardest lesson of my life.
I’ve never been very lucky with cars. In fact, I would go as far as to say I am cursed! But when hubby accidentally hit a cow on the way home from work, we needed a car and we needed a car big enough for us all. I applied for a bank loan and we found a car we all liked the look of on Autotrader. As this dealer was listed on Autotrader and because he was a dealer rather than a private seller, I thought I would be safe and that if I had any problems they would be dealt with. But how wrong was I!
We went to view the car, a black 06 plate Ford Galaxy which was a top of the range Galaxy with a built in Sat Nav and DVD player. It had less a mileage of less than 100,000 and the checks I completed online to see the MOT history and to see if it had HP or had been written off in an accident, all came back clear.
It was being sold by Stuart Hodges of 1st Car Shop in Liverpool.
I went with my parents and my youngest to see the car. Everyone else wanted to come but we didn’t have enough room. We arrived where the car was and the dealer took us into a compound to look at it. The first thing he did was take us for a ride in the car. I thought it was odd that he was the one driving and then he started going on about the flywheel, which of course went over my head as I didn’t have a clue what he was going on about. Then he left me to look around it with my dad.
We’d only been looking at the car for a few minutes when he turned back up with a phone clutched to his ear. He claimed he had someone on their way to look at the car and as they were on the motorway and travelling a long distance and needed to know if we were having it or whether to carry on.
Oh, how I wish I had said no.
If I had a time machine I would go back to that moment and shout NO. I’ve never wanted a time machine before as I know changing your past changes who you are, but to go back to that moment and turn the car down would be worth any changes I would make to my timeline!
The car looked tidy enough. It didn’t look like it had been in an accident. So I said yes I would have it. I tried to haggle him down in price, knowing that the car needed a new tyre and brakes as per the MOT advisories, but he refused saying that they were only minor issues (even though the car advert said that the car had excellent tyres, meaning the car was not as described!) I mentioned the airbag warning light, but again he said it was a minor issue, which I now know is completely wrong and I have been told by a trustworthy garage that not only is the airbag warning light an MOT failure, he should never have sold a car with a faulty airbag. I even mentioned that the car seemed a little reluctant to start when you turned the key, but he reassured me that it was just a low battery as the car had stood idle for a while. I asked why the car had only done 100 miles between MOT’s and he told me that the previous owner had been away a lot and left the car in the driveway.
Finally, it was time for payment and he took me into the local branch of my bank for me to transfer the money into his account. What I didn’t know at the time, but I have since learnt from the County Court, I should never have been told to make a payment into his personal account, it should have been a business account under the name 1st Car Shop, as that was who I was buying the car from.
He then took me back to the yard and the car and gave me a receipt. He wrote SOLD AS SEEN NO WARRANTY on the receipt which I now know is illegal as under The Consumer Act 2015 he cannot say that and I have 30 days to refuse a vehicle for a full refund or to ask for any repairs BY LAW and writing NO WARRANTY was attempting to replace my LEGAL RIGHTS.
We went down the road to the nearest supermarket to put diesel in the car as it was empty. We finally went for the coffee that I had wanted whilst deciding whether to have the car. By now I was starting to worry that I had made a big mistake. Why oh why didn’t those gut instincts kick in half an hour earlier! I even mentioned to my dad what an aggressive dealer I had found him to be as I hadn’t felt that I had had enough time to look over the car properly and to decide, especially with his
fake phone call.
I drove the car home and I noticed that the car was still reluctant to start so I refused to stop anywhere in case it wouldn’t start again. I also noticed as I got closer to home that the car was smoking from the exhaust.
The kids loved the car and couldn’t wait to go out in it, but I had still had a feeling of dread in my stomach whenever I looked at it. I studied the cars history and phoned the garage which had done the previous services and found that the cam belt hadn’t been replaced. Ford recommended that the cam belt was done when the car was 10 years old or had a mileage of 120,000. As the car was 11 years old I decided to use the rest of the loan money to pay for a new cam belt, water pump, battery, full service and to do the rear brakes and tyre. All in all, it cost me an extra £1,500 to sort the car out and to bring it up to a reliable standard. Or so I thought!
Our local garage couldn’t fit it in for 3 weeks to do the cambelt and since I didn’t want to risk it going whilst waiting to go in, we didn’t use it. Finally, it went in and we had a call to pick it up. Everyone was so excited that we decided to go for a drive.
We only went 40 miles down the road and as I pulled into MacDonalds, the car was surrounded by smoke and the display started screaming at me ENGINE MALFUNCTION. I phoned the AA and was told that the turbo had blown and the car was towed back home.
On the advice of the garage, I contact Stuart Hodges of 1st Car Shop 25 days after I bought the Galaxy from him and asked about the turbo. He said he would get in touch with the previous owner and get back to me. He didn’t! He also started ignoring my texts and calls.
When hubby spoke to him using a different phone all he got was Stuart telling him that he had told me there was no warranty on the car when I bought it and that he hadn’t had any letters. Hubby told him to go and get them from the post office and that legally I had every right to return the car for a full refund which was what I wanted to do and that we had the law on our side. Stuart then hung up on him and avoided his phone calls as well.
Eventually, I spent £1,200 repairing the turbo. Money I didn’t have and I had to borrow from my parents! Money I hadn’t expected to spend on a car I had just bought! Money I shouldn’t have had to spend! We finally got the car back and THREE DAYS LATER, the first time I drove it, what did I find on the display? ENGINE MALFUNCTION…. again! This time it was the EGR valve!
By now the issue with the car was affecting my mental health as well as my finances!
Not only was I out of pocket by over £6,000, but I had a car I couldn’t use. My husband had no way to get to work and was at risk of losing his job. I couldn’t go anywhere with my family. I couldn’t take my children to their hospital appointments. I felt like a child having to rely on my parents all the time. My mental health was so low that I was put on antidepressants. I was refusing to get into a car, any car, let alone drive it. The thought of driving would send me into a panic attack and made me physically ill.
Even with my mental health so low, I knew my rights and I contacted Trading Standards and Consumer Direct. They explained my legal rights and that because I had let Stuart Hodges know of the problem within the first 30 days of my ownership I could LEGALLY return the car for a full refund. I was told what to say in the letter and to give him a deadline of two weeks to respond.
I was refusing the car because; Under The Consumer Act 2015 it was NOT;
Of Satisfactory Quality – It kept breaking down. It didn’t work and it wasn’t of a good enough quality to be sold because of the airbag warning light as well as the tyre and brakes.
As Described – the car didn’t match the advertisement, something that I had discovered when I had gotten home. The mileage was wrong by 5,000. The tyres were not “excellent” as it said in the advert, if they were I wouldn’t have had to replace one. Some of the features the car had been advertised as having weren’t actually available (such as Bluetooth connection) and the DVD player and auto disc changer which had been advertised didn’t work.
In my first letter, I told him I wanted him to pay for the turbo repairs. That was all I wanted and I figured that was fair. I had no response, my letter which I sent by recorded delivery was returned unopened. In the next letter, I said that I wanted to return the car for a full refund of what I had paid for the car and what I had spent on repairs and maintenance as the car as it was still broken. This was a letter before court and again I had no response and the recorded delivery letter was returned unopened.
In desperation, I turned to motor organisations for help, but no one could help me. He wasn’t signed up to any motoring organisations and because of this, they couldn’t help me. Because I had used a loan to buy the car, I couldn’t get any help that way. Had he allowed me to use a credit card (which I had wanted to do), I could have used the credit card to fight to get my money back. If I had gotten the car on Hire Purchase (HP) they could have fought on my behalf. But all I could do was take him to the small claims court.
Even that didn’t work. I spent several months filling in the forms and trying to get help. Sadly the court couldn’t find the proof that I was in receipt of benefits to waive the fee. Hubby was out of work at the time but they were in his name. This meant they wanted me to pay £800 to take him to court. Whilst I knew I could add these fees to his bill, I also knew that there was every chance that even if I won I wouldn’t see a penny. I can’t afford £800 on the off-chance I might get it back.
So finally, after 10 months of trying to get my money back, I have given up. I have spent another £500 on the car to
hopefully get it back on the road. I have been left scarred mentally with all these issues and I refuse to drive it. I also still owe my parents the £1,200 they lent me to pay for the turbo repairs. I have spent £7,000 on a car which is only worth £4,000, money which I will never see again. This doesn’t include the money we have had to spend getting another car to use.
So now I am breaking my silence. All along I have refused to name the dealer, knowing that he could easily change the dealership name and make it harder for me to take him to court. But since I am no longer taking him to court, I will now name and shame him.
DO NOT BUY A CAR FROM
1ST CAR SHOP IN LIVERPOOL!
DO NOT BUY A CAR FROM STUART HODGES
AVOID AT ALL COSTS
I did learn my lesson though. We bought hubby a new car in March from Motormill in Warrington and whilst my Car Curse hit again and the Focus broke down on our way home from buying it. Motormill went above and beyond to help us out. They gave us a courtesy car to use whilst they repaired ours at no cost to ourselves. Even though this meant spending over £1,000 replacing the engine, flywheel and clutch and fuel injectors. They also upgraded the warranty from 6 months to 12 months at no extra. Plus they replaced the cam belt and water pump at a cost of £150.
I would certainly recommend them and buying a car on HP. Buying on HP means you have someone on your side if a problem arises.