Tag Archive | "OFT"

Used Car Mileage Lottery

Once, a lot of fuss was made about shady, medallion toting used car dealers with dubious moustaches who would leave a Gideon Bible on the back seat and swear the car had been owned by a nun. Those days are long gone. Today, the crooks are way more professional than the spivs of old and the average car buyer really needs to stay on the ball.

According to HPI, the long established worldwide car data company, one in three cars have what is described as a ‘hidden history’. Potential buyers of used cars, they say, should ensure they establish their legal rights before buying a used car. Obviously the company wants more people to use their services but it is surprising the number of people who do not employ a data checker before they buy. It’s not as if it costs a lot of money. Buy a car that has been stolen, for instance, and you’ll have to give it back to the original owner. You won’t get your money back.

Regardless of whether you buy through a dealer or a private seller you’ve got to do your homework. There are some tempting bargains and some very plausible vendors, especially in the private sector. As we always say on Motor Blogger, if something looks too good to be true then it probably is. The only rule that governs private sellers is that ‘the car must not be mis-described’. So, as they say in all the best Latin textbooks – caveat emptor – let the buyer beware.

You could try suing of course; that’s if you can find the bloke you bought it from. Some say that he might be in Marbella, but you can never be sure. Recourse to the law could also be expensive, leaving you out of pocket. Better then to play safe.

It doesn’t take a minute to enter a registration online, pay the fee, and get the information you need. You can even do it over the phone, as you view the vehicle. These checks will tell you if the car has been reported stolen, if there is outstanding finance or if it has been in an accident or written off. HPI also owns the National Mileage Register which holds records on over 150 million motors, so it is easy to check if the odometer seems right.

The car should come with a full set of paperwork. The V5 registration document, ideally a full service history and an MOT, if appropriate. If buying from a dealer and you really feel like pushing the boat out you can check on the history of the business as well. A good dealer should have conducted their own checks. It helps a buyer’s peace of mind if the dealer is a member of the Retail Motor Industry Federation or have signed up to the Motor Codes Scheme. Research these for more detail. The Office of Fair Trading or the Citizen’s Advice Bureau have plenty of free consumer advice available. There’s really no need to buy a lemon.

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Are We Paying Too Much For Fuel?

Is, you might equally ask, David Cameron a Conservative?

With the news that the Office of Fair Trading is having a look at pump prices and all the attendant ho-ha that goes with them it is not unreasonable to ask, ‘What took you so long?’

This august body will investigate by how much the price we pay is reflected in the price of crude oil and will also be checking up on suspected devious industry practices which allegedly are designed to favour oil companies and supermarkets against the small independent retailer. So far so good.

But, does anyone still really believe that the actions of the greedy financial markets in their oil trading trickery can have so much effect on the price we pay for a litre? The fact remains – as has recently been demonstrated – that even if the price of oil drops significantly the price at the pump changes hardly at all. This clearly shows that the oil companies know full well that if they keep the retail price high, they will make more money. It really is that cynical.

Nobody at the top of this industry or indeed at the top of government cares less about what the customer pays or thinks. Sure, they occasionally spout their weasel words about fair pricing and the like whilst at the same time giggling to themselves over another bottle of Bolly.

The Office of Fair Trading plans to consult with the industry, the various motoring bodies and consumer organisations to get at the facts, which should be blindingly obvious. Let’s hope the message gets through to the government – for starters – that might help prevent the additional 3p tax being added in January 2013. At this point the sensible advice would be to not hold your breath in hope.

In the same way that retail utility customers do not believe that our gas and electric bills are affected by short term fluctuations in the wholesale cost of power sources then the same applies to motor fuels. We are, quite simply, being taken for a ride.

Across the UK more and more people struggle to make ends meet. Big cars are losing ground and small economical new cars are picking up sales as motorists try to keep on the road. Those not in a position to get another car are keeping their old vehicles on the road for longer. Older used cars are in demand. Young drivers can’t afford to run a car at all.

The government thinks that the way to stimulate the economy is to build more houses as if their predecessors haven’t tried it before without achieving long-lasting success. Surely the way to stimulate growth would be to free up small businesses, enabling them to compete and lower taxation – including the astronomic cost of petrol – to allow the public to spend. Instead they pander to greed.

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