Car dealer fined for selling ‘clocked’ vehicle

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A NEWTOWNABBEY car dealer was fined a total of £1,000 plus £43 costs at Belfast Magistrates Court on Tuesday (April 24).

In a case brought by the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment’s Trading Standards Service, Roy Martin John Smiley, who had traded as CT Autos, 571 Doagh Road, had been previously convicted of two charges under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008. He had not attended earlier hearings and a warrant had been issued for his arrest.

It was discovered that CT Autos had sold a consumer a 2006 Vauxhall Astra with an odometer reading of approximately 75,000 miles. Shortly afterwards the consumer discovered the car had travelled a much higher mileage - later confirmed by the Trading Standards Service to be at least 165,751 miles. The consumer raised the matter with the trader and returned the car. A few days later it was offered to undercover Trading Standards officers with the lower figure. No mention of the higher mileage was made.

Peter Rankin, Trading Standards Officer said: “This case demonstrates the lengths some unscrupulous motor traders will go to in order to mislead consumers.

“The trade in ‘clocked’ cars affects both consumers and honest motor dealers. Consumers may well find the condition of the vehicle with a false mileage to be much worse than they expect and this could lead to unexpected expense further down the line. Honest dealers are at a commercial disadvantage as a car with a correct mileage is generally more expensive than an identical model which has been ‘clocked’ to the same mileage. In this case the seller knew about the higher mileage but made no effort to tell prospective buyers of the true facts.”

Mr Rankin concluded: “The penalty in this case should serve as a warning to traders that they should ensure that cars they sell are correctly described in advertisements and during negotiations with potential buyers. Failure to do so can result in a fine, with the maximum fine for each offence being £5,000.”