CarCraft car supermarket told to clean up its act following Office of Fair Trading investigation

The Office of Fair Trading has taken enforcement action against the car supermarket Carcraft, which has 11 car supermarkets across England and Wales, over concerns about its business practices when selling cars, finance and after-sale guarantees.

The company, which co-operated fully with the investigation into the way it does business, has made undertakings (see PDF below) to the OFT to clean up its act. If it fails to do so, it could face possible court action.

Following its investigation, the OFT believed that Carcraft:

  • was not always properly carrying out the comprehensive pre-sale vehicle inspections it advertised, with customers complaining about vehicles suffering significant problems shortly after purchase
  • did not always meet its legal obligations to repair or replace cars when cars sold were not of satisfactory quality
  • did not make clear to some customers the terms of motor finance, such as the level of repayments or that they were signing more than one finance agreement
  • gave some customers a misleading impression about the scope of the after-sale vehicle guarantee, or that the guarantee was free when in fact it was being charged for
  • allowed some customers to drive vehicles off its premises without valid road tax.

Cavendish Elithorn, Senior Director of the OFT's Goods and Consumer Group, said:

"Car buyers often choose to purchase from a large dealer in expectation of peace of mind. Carcraft promised customers that it aimed to help them 'find the perfect car with confidence', but we don't think its practices ensured that it always lived up to expectations or met its legal obligations. We welcome Carcraft's undertakings which should ensure customers are treated fairly.

"The industry should take note of our action against Carcraft as it shows that dealers will face enforcement action where their practices cause serious problems for consumers."

A spokesman for CarCraft said:

"Carcraft firmly believes in putting customers at the forefront of everything we do. We take customer service and satisfaction extremely seriously and we are genuinely sorry that in the past some customers didn’t receive the levels of service we currently offer.  We handle every issue individually and in recent years we have made changes to many of our products and services to ensure we better meet customers’ expectations, a fact the OFT now acknowledges.

"We have worked with the OFT to produce a set of comprehensive voluntary guidelines that will set a new standard for the industry.  This comes on top of our recently launched and industry leading ‘Drive Happy’ package, designed to offer customers valuable assurances when buying a used car, with a free one year guarantee, servicing, MOT and RAC Roadside Assist."

Last year's OFT market study into second hand car sales found that the market was often not working well for consumers. The results of that study led the OFT to warn used car dealers they must comply with the law or face enforcement action.

The OFT will shortly be launching a consumer campaign to increase awareness of consumer rights when buying a used car and where consumers can go for advice should they encounter problems after they buy.


CarCraft Undertaking


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