The Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC), assisted by colleagues from the Garda National Economic Crime Bureau, the Garda Stolen Vehicle Investigation Unit as well as local uniformed Gardaí, has completed a series of unannounced inspections of garages and second-hand car dealerships in Dublin and Kildare over the last three days (6 – 8 October). Teams of Authorised Officers inspected vehicles for evidence that traders may be in breach of consumer protection law. All of the traders identified for inspection have been subject to multiple complaints to the CCPC in 2020 for the sale of clocked and crashed cars.
Vehicle crime is a serious offence under the Consumer Protection Act 2007. Where a trader provides misleading information when selling a car e.g. a false odometer reading, if the vehicle is not roadworthy, or if the vehicle has been written-off by an insurer, it can have serious and even fatal consequences for consumers. A trader who provides false, misleading or deceptive information is subject to Section 47 of the Consumer Protection Act and if found guilty of these offences is liable for a fine of up to €3,000 and up to six months in prison.
A number of potential offences were identified by the CCPC officers including misleading commercial practices in accordance with section 47 of the Consumer Protection Act.
Speaking about the inspections, Patrick Kenny, Member of the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission said, “Misleading a consumer about the history of a car is a very serious offence. Not only can it be costly but critically, it can also be dangerous.
Consumers need to be able to rely on accurate information from car dealers in relation to a vehicle’s roadworthiness and its history, particularly its mileage and any damage history. These inspections should act as a reminder to all car dealers that if you mislead consumers then you are liable to face criminal prosecution.
The CCPC will continue to conduct unannounced inspections around Ireland and will use our powers to take enforcement action against traders who may be breaking the law.”
The CCPC helpline has received 2,119 contacts from the public in relation to vehicles so far this year and 198 of these relate to potentially clocked and crashed cars. The four most common car complaints received by the CCPC are clocked cars, crashed cars, outstanding finance and disguised sellers.
The CCPC has launched a consumer awareness campaign on car history to inform consumers considering buying a used car on what to look out for before they buy. Consumers can visit www.ccpc.ie/consumers/cars/ for information and advice on purchasing a second hand car. There is also a car checklist listing relevant questions consumers should ask before they purchase a car.