Incredibly, I was recently contacted by a disgruntled customer who bought a car from a well known dealership which has branches across the UK and advertises on prime-time TV promising to cut out the middle-man, and alludes to making life easy for people to buy and trade in cars with cartoon characters driving toy cars around a map.

This fictional activity is mirrored by factual cases that would be difficult to make up as well.

So, the message I received was as follows;

Hello Mr. Dixon,

I have joined (dealership name) rip off group just now – still pending.  I see that you advise to everyone.

Can you help me please.

End of March I went to Glasgow to part exchange my car and purchased another from them.  My old car was on finance.  I paid for everything there.  Salesman did not transfer money to Santander I had finance with and I am getting arrears letters from Santander and even sent on me collectors for my goods.

I am ringing every day to car dealer shop.  Manager is never available and just getting promises that will sort out and ring me back but never happens.  I went there from Northern Ireland so I am not willing to undertake that journey again to complain and sort this in person.

Should I go to a solicitor and sue them or what should I do?  Nothing happening from there side and I am in trouble.

Thanks, Anna 

It’s hard to believe that this garage has managed to agree a part exchange price and sell a car that the customer appears to be happy with, yet has screwed everything up by simply not seeking a settlement figure from Santander to pay for the car that was traded in and is not prepared to help a customer who was happy with everything to that point.

Further enquiries on my part revealed that the new car is partly financed by Barclays, meaning that both cars are on finance with two separate Banks.  The dealership was also saying that the customer needs to contact Santander to request a settlement figure so they can settle the finance.

The new car is on finance with Barclays for £1,600, she part exchanged a car with £9,000 outstanding on finance with a p/x value of £5,400 and the new car was £6,000.

The crux of this is that both vehicles do not belong to Anna and belong to the Banks, so it’s a case of making her problem theirs.

The contract is rendered invalid as things stand and Anna can demand that everything is unwound and to be restored to the position she was in before she entered in to the contract, regardless of whether the car that was traded in has been sent to auction or sold.

If the dealership is not willing or prepared to simply do the right thing and request a settlement figure from Santander and complete the contract, Anna needs to take action and file Court papers online for breach of contract.  The car that was part-exchanged belongs to Santander, but she has handed it to the dealership who have invalidated the contract that she has entered in to.

Barclays are also liable here as they are jointly liable under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act 1974.

Anna needs to do the following;

  • Cancel the contract in writing, return, reject and SORN (“Statutory Off Road Notice”) the new vehicle as the contract is invalid.
  • Contact Barclays to enact a reverse chargeback under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act 1974 as the contract is invalid.
  • Speak to Santander to say that she part-exchanged the vehicle in good faith and to put a stop on any further proceedings as Court action is underway.
  • Contact Experian and Equifax in due course and get any data filed regarding the arrears rectified with Santander as her credit rating will be impacted.

As it happens, Anna was able to get this resolved by requesting a settlement figure from Santander so the dealership could settle the finance although this should have never got to this stage.  Nevertheless, she still needs to ensure that the credit reference agencies have not recorded any black marks for being in arrears and to get these remedied so her credit rating is not tarnished.

I remain astonished that they could actually turn a great experience for a customer in to a nightmare simply by not promptly requesting a settlement figure from Santander to complete the contract.

Her experience has been soured simply due to sloppy and unprofessional customer service and bad experiences travel much faster than good experiences, with this now being posted all over social media to warn others to give this brand a wide berth.

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