What are my rights when buying a company car?

Ordering a new car for your company can be stressful. You have to go through a never ending amount of paperwork, wait for finance approval, and jump through so many hoops before you even receive the vehicle. So we understand how infuriating it can be if your vehicle arrives and it’s not 100% perfect.

Knowing your rights when this happens is important.

It can also be confusing and, if we’re being honest, quite boring. Which is why we’ve written an article to help you understand your rights when buying a car.

However, your rights when buying a car for personal reasons and for business reasons are completely different. So different, in fact, that it’s essentially a whole article in itself.

This article is focused on the rights and responsibilities of buying a car for a business. 

Firstly, it’s important to know whether you count as a business under the law. The two definitions for businesses within the motor industry are:

  • If you are buying something and saying you’re a business, or if you have a business bank account, then you are a business. This is according to the Sales of Goods Act.
  • You are a business if you are a Limited Company (Ltd), Limited Liability Partnership (LLP), Public Listed Company (PLC) or a Partnership with more than 3 partners. This is according to the Financial Conduct Authority.

If either of those apply to you then congratulations! You’re a business and this article is the one you want to be reading.

In this article, we’ll be helping you to understand what laws surround the motor industry, what regulations any vehicle supplier should be sticking to, and what it all means for you. So, let’s get started.

Ordering a Car Over the Phone vs. Through a Dealer

In terms of your rights, there is absolutely no difference between ordering a car over the phone and ordering it from a dealer.

The only difference is that instead of signing a contract in person with the sales person in front of you, you’ll be signing it either online or by printing out the contract and sending it by post.

As soon as you sign that contract, the law assumes you understand all of the terms and agree to them. This means you are committed to the contract and are liable for any reasonable cancellation charges and costs if you decide to change your mind.
However, if the vehicle is not what you believed it should be, you do have protection from the Sale and Supply of Goods Act.

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What is the Sales and Supply of Goods Act?

We are so glad you asked.

This is everything you need to know about the Sales and Supply of Goods Act in relation to the motor industry:

1)    They must have, or the broker supplier must have, title to the goods. This means that the vehicle must not be stolen and that they legally own the vehicle. (Section 12 of the Act)

2)   They must give an accurate description. For example, if it says the vehicle was Sky Blue on the order form and it ends up being Cerulean Blue, then you can quote Section 13 of the Act.

3)   They must provide a vehicle of satisfactory quality

  1. What is satisfactory quality? Well, it’s the standard that a ‘reasonable person’ would regard as satisfactory, taking into account the description given, price paid and any other considerations such as the mileage or type of vehicle.
  2. The appearance and the goods are free from minor defects. The act says that this is as a ‘reasonable person’ would expect the condition to be in. So, if you are buying a used car, it would be expected to have fair wear and tear. The level of this would be based on its age and mileage. If you’re unsure as to what counts as fair wear and tear, then you can download the BVRLA Fair Wear and Tear Guide .
  3. The vehicle should have durability. This means that it should work as expected. If it does not, then you can reject the goods and give the supplier the opportunity to repair the fault. If this is unsuccessful, you can request a full refund or a replacement vehicle.
  4. It should be noted that buyers cannot expect a legal remedy in respect to fair wear and tear, misuse or accidental damage, or that they decide they no longer want the item.

4) The Act also includes Fit for Purpose. If you have said that the vehicle needs to be able to do something specific and it doesn’t fit that purpose, then you can quote the Act Section 12 (3). This would be the case regardless if it was a purpose for which the vehicle is being purchased for.

If any of the above apply to you, you should quote Section 14 (2) of the Act.

However, not all breaches are considered significant enough to allow for a rejection of the goods under Section 15A of the Sales and Supply of Goods Act (1979). If the breach is considered ‘slight in the view of a reasonable person’, it’s not a good enough reason to reject the goods. However, you could claim damage costs if the dealer or broker does not rectify the situation.

You need to make sure you check the vehicle before signing the delivery note. If you don’t, you could miss something and you’ve already given evidence that you accept the car in the state that it was delivered. Therefore, you can’t reject the vehicle if there is a fault.

What Can I Do if a Have a Problem with the Vehicle?

Firstly, this is what you shouldn’t do; You shouldn’t phone the company and start screaming at them, no matter how tempting it will be. We understand how hugely frustrating it would be if you went through that whole process, spent your hard earned money, and the car turns up damaged or incorrect. We totally get it.

However, they will be less inclined to help you if you’re shouting at them. What you should do, is to get your point across calmly.  

Make sure that you record every interaction you have and that you have the following things noted down with it:

  • The time and date of the call.
  • Who you spoke to.
  • What topics have been covered.
  • Then, back it up with an email to the supplier so you have it in writing.

This can all count as evidence should you need it later.

What if my Vehicle Isn’t the Right Specification or Model?

If your vehicle isn’t the right specification or model, then you should phone the supplier straight away.

Then explain to them why it’s not correct, and back it up with your order form via email if necessary. Generally, this is down to an error on their side so it should be sorted relatively quickly.

Unless otherwise confirmed in writing, do not drive the car. You should store in a safe place like your driveway or garage.

What if There is a Fault With my New Car?

If there’s a fault with your car, then you should call your supplier to discuss your options.

If they aren’t nearby, a local franchised dealer should be able to deal with your fault. The dealer should be able to claim any faults back from the manufacturer as long as it’s a fault and not damage inflicted from travel.

Unfortunately, service departments are generally booked up days or weeks in advance so you may not get an instant fix. However, your supplier will be able to advise you on how long it will take.

What Happens if There is a Fault with my Used Car?

If you’ve ordered a used car but haven’t taken out an extended warranty, then don’t worry. By law, you have a 3-month sliding scale warranty.

You should contact the company you purchased the car or van from and advise them of any faults as soon as you’re aware of them.

What Should I Do If My Car is Incorrect or Faulty

Ultimately, the person you are talking to wants to help you. They wouldn’t have arranged delivery of the vehicle if they knew it was wrong or faulty, and they’re doing their best to offer a great service.

Although it may be tempting, slamming the company on social media is unlikely to do any favours. We’ve all wanted to do it, but in my experience, being calm with the service team tends to be the most effective way of speeding things along.

So, if you have an issue with the car you have ordered, these are the steps you should take to ensure that you get the car you paid for:

  1. Phone the sales person and tell them about the mistake or fault. Give them a reasonable deadline to come back to you with a solution. A few hours should be enough.
  2. If you have no luck;
    1. Speak to the Sales Manager in the dealership. If they’re not around, ask to speak to the Dealer Principle.
    2. If you’re dealing with a broker, ask to speak to the Sales Manager or Owner of the business.
  3. No Good?
    1. Call the manufacturer. This may come as a shock to you, but most manufacturers deal with customers as if they’re hot coals. They’ll assure you that everything will be sorted, then through you back to the dealer. Though this may be irritating from your point of view, at least you have alerted the manufacturer that the dealer isn’t supplying the correct level of service. This should then encourage the dealership to be a little bit more helpful.
  4. Wow, still no luck?
    1. Getting to stage four is quite rare. Most of the time, the first three steps would be enough to get the problem sorted. But now it’s time to turn to our good friend, the internet.
    2. Go onto social media and make sure to tag the relevant companies and manufacturers to grab their attention. Don’t forget to keep it professional; this will get more attention from the higher-ups.
  5. Okay, now it’s personal
    1. Over all of my time in the motor industry, I can count the number of times a car delivery issue has resorted to getting solicitors involved on one hand.
    2. Don’t forget, solicitors are costly, and it can take a while before anything gets done, so use this option as the very last resort.

There are lots of things you can do if you aren’t happy with your vehicle, and it’s always important to know your rights as a consumer. Hopefully, this has helped you understand your rights as a business customer and given you advice on what you should do if you aren’t happy with your purchase.

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