Dublin car trader pleads guilty to misleading a consumer

A Dublin based car dealer, Fergus O’Donnell of Inclusive Car Sales, Park West Industrial Park, Dublin 12, has received the benefit of the Probation Act after he entered a plea of guilty for misleading a consumer in relation to the history of a car.

This outcome was the result of an extensive investigation by the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC).

Under consumer protection law, it is an offence for traders to give false, misleading or deceptive information about the history of a car.

Unless otherwise stated, a motor trader should complete due diligence, including car history checks, before making a car available for sale to a consumer.

Consumers should be told if the car was previously involved in a car crash, was recorded as an insurance ‘write off’, or displays the wrong mileage.

Commenting, Úna Butler, Member of the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission said, “Misleading a consumer is a very serious offence and traders who fail to provide complete and accurate information are liable to a criminal prosecution by the CCPC. The CCPC is and will continue to be very active in this sector.

“We encourage any consumer who believes that they have been misled by a motor trader, or indeed any trader, to contact us.”

While consumer protection legislation places legal requirements on traders, consumers should also take a proactive approach when buying a car and use the CCPC’s online information and checklist to ensure they are getting what they pay for.

Consumers who believe they have been misled by a trader can make a report to the CCPC helpline on 01-402 5555 or use the online contact form on CCPC.ie.

The case concerned the sale of a 2010 Fiat 500, by Fergus O’Donnell of Inclusive Car Sales, to a consumer on 1 July 2017 for €5,350.

The car was advertised for sale on DoneDeal.ie on 18 May 2017.

Following the purchase of the car, the car broke down while the consumer was driving.

The consumer brought it to a mechanic who identified issues with the vehicle, namely problems with the power steering.

The car was found to have an ownership history which had not been accurately advertised or disclosed and, in addition, the mileage of the vehicle was found to be understated by approximately 5%.

Fergus O’Donnell had purchased the Fiat 500 from the UK in May 2017 and imported it to Ireland in or around June 2017.

The CCPC alleged that Fergus O’Donnell had committed or engaged in a misleading commercial practice as set out in section 43 of the Consumer Protection Act 2007 (CPA 2007) by advertising and selling a car with an incorrect ownership history and mileage which was understated by approximately 5%.

These practices are offences under section 47 of the CPA 2007.

Mr O’Donnell pleaded guilty at Dublin’s District Court and Judge Halpin applied the Probation Act.

The court took into account that the trader had compensated the consumer fully and paid costs to the CCPC.

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