A mileage correction operator in Swindon has been jailed for nine months for car clocking.
Colin Michael Ogle, who ran a mileage correction service in the town, has become the first such purveyor to be convicted under consumer law.
The conviction follows the results of an OFT investigation into the used car market in 2010, which estimated the potential loss to consumers of buying cars with false mileages could be up to £580 million per year.
As part of its investigation the OFT said that legitimate reasons for mileage adjustment were extremely rare, and, at the time of its study, there were over 50 websites advertising mileage correction services.
Vehicle checking firm HPI has called on parliament to help shut down such firms operating in the UK. The company has launched an e-petition and has asked the public to support its fight against mileage correction firms.
Consumer Services Manager for HPI Nicola Johnson said: “It is fantastic to see decisive action against the owners of these firms, who until now have acted without seeing any consequences, all the while costing used car buyers thousands. But we still need more action and this where we need you, the public, to get behind us and make your voice heard. We cannot stamp out these companies on our own, and remove what would appear to be a legitimate form of fraud trading within the UK.”
Roger Powell, Divisional Head at CDL Vehicle Information Services, which owns vehicle checking MyCarCheck.com says the problem of clocking is rife: “A member of our Glasgow call centre team recently dealt with an enquiry concerning an extreme case of clocking. The customer suspected that the mileage had been altered and he was actually not too surprised when we told him that, according to the last recorded figure, it had been wound back by around 100,000 miles. It turned out that for several years the car had been a taxi.
“Worse still, the customer had already purchased the vehicle. Such calls are always difficult because we prefer to prevent people from making an expensive used car mistake rather than confirming their worst fears. People question why we say ‘check before you buy’ because they think it is obvious, but the scenario I have just outlined is unfortunately very common.”
Senior Director at the OFT Ali Nikpay added: “Thousands of consumers are paying over the odds for cars that have had their mileage illegally tampered with. This landmark prosecution sends a clear message out to those adjusting car mileages that they face prison if they break the law. We will be working closely with our enforcement partners to raise standards across the sector and ensure that appropriate action is taken where mileage correction businesses break the law.”
Where do you stand? Do you or someone you know offer a mileage correction service? Let us know in the comments box below.