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Glyn Hopkin dealership

In a move that could have far-reaching consequences on the used car industry, the Advertising Standards Authority has upheld a complaint against two lineage ads for car dealer Glyn Hopkin. The adverts related to two three-year old Alfa Romeo vehicles, and the complaint was that the vehicles were not advertised as being ‘ex-fleet’.

The vehicles in question had been registered directly to Fiat- Chrysler Automobiles (FCA). In response, the dealer said that the vehicles were not for sale directly from the website and that would-be purchasers would be able to see all the documents related to any particular car.

Glyn Hopkin stated that they bought the advertised vehicles directly from FCA and that an ex-fleet did not suggest that it had multiple drivers. Furthermore, the actual previous usage, irrespective of the registered keeper, could not be categorically defined on a used car and they stated that such information had not been given to them by FCA.

SMMT was asked for its input. It said that it believed that the Office of Fair Trading’s (OFT) ‘Guidance for second hand car dealers’ only applied to ex-fleet vehicles that might have had multiple users, and that by describing a vehicle as ex-fleet did not necessarily mean that it had been used by more than one driver.

SMMT also pointed out that the new car market had changed radically in the UK, through the growth in popularity of PCP and lease schemes, where most of the vehicles were owned by fleet management/vehicle leasing companies.

The ASA accepted these points, but still ruled that the advert broke guidelines and that it, and all others like it, must state that if a vehicle had been part of a fleet if had been used for business purposes, even if they had been in the hands of a single user from new, as had been the case with both of the cars in question.

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Vehicle history website motorcheck.co.uk offered a car history checking service that stated the user could ‘save 40 percent on car checks’ compared with Experian or HPI.

HPI complained that the claim couldn’t be substantiated, however the Authority ruled that it could be. A statement in the ruling read: “The ASA considered traders would interpret the ad to mean that, if they ran 20 vehicle checks per month with MotorCheck, they would make a minimum 40% saving compared with running similar checks with HPI”.

“We noted that part of the basis of Cap HPI’s complaint was the contractual requirement that HPI’s customers were not permitted to share details of the cost of HPI’s products with competitors. They therefore questioned how reliable the evidence MotorCheck relied on to support the claim was likely to be. We noted, however, that MotorCheck had been sent the pricing information direct from HPI following an anonymous enquiry. We had no reason to think that this would not be a valid reflection of the cost of HPI’s products. When drawing up the comparison, MotorCheck had taken into account the one-off joining fee charged by Cap HPI (as traders who were not currently with Cap HPI would need to pay it). They had incorporated that into the price comparison in the first month and then had listed a separate comparison for the subsequent months in which the joining fee did not need to be paid (as traders would only pay the joining fee once)”.

No further action is required.

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