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Trade Centre Group radio advert banned over ‘misleading’ £20 car finance offer

Trade Centre UK logo

A Trade Centre Group radio advert which claimed that the retailer was offering “hundreds of cars” for sale with finance repayments of £20-per-week has been banned by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA).

The used car supermarket group’s Trade Centre Wales division was told that its failure to outline that not all car buyers would be eligible for the offer, along with evidence that just 18 cars had been advertised at the £3,999 price which made the offer possible, meant the wording of the ad was “misleading”.

The ASA also noted a lack of compliance with Consumer Credit Sourcebook (CONC) rules and guidance, which stated: “A firm must ensure that a communication of a financial promotion is clear, fair and not misleading”, adding “A firm must not in a financial promotion […] state or imply that credit is available regardless of the customer’s financial circumstances or status.”

It is not the first time the ASA has banned a ad for the Neath-based business. In 2020 it upheld a compliant after ruling it delivered ‘ambiguous’ finance T&Cs.

Trade Centre Wales February 2022 radio advert claimed hundreds of Fiestas, Corsas, Fiat 500s were all available for “just twenty pounds a week” with a £99 deposit at a 12.9% fixed APR interest rate.

After a complaint to the ASA, the car supermarket group was not able to specify how many of the 1,400 vehicles at its Neath and Cardiff North retail locations had been available at £20 per week or the alternative cash price of £3,999.

Trade Centre provided information about 18 cars that were first advertised at £3,999 in the first two weeks of February 2022, but none took on finance at the £20 per week rate.

In response to the ASA the business explained that it was an FCA-authorised credit broker and introduced their customers to lenders. Trade Centre were responsible for ensuring that the customer was aged 18 or over and did not identify as a vulnerable customer.

Every customer had the opportunity of credit at the lowest rate, but must meet the terms and conditions set out by the lender in order to qualify, it said, adding that “the majority of customers” did not pay more than 12.9% APR.

Upholding the complaint against the advert and banning its further use, the ASA said: “We acknowledged that the voice-over first stated that the finance offer was ‘from just’ £20 per week, but noted it then stated that it was ‘just’ £20 per week twice after that.

“We considered the ad placed significant emphasis on the availability of cars at the weekly price of £20. It referenced some conditions to that finance offer, but did not include a statement which made clear that other terms and conditions applied.

“In particular, it did not include any statement, such as ‘Terms and conditions apply’, that communicated to listeners that the £20 per week finance offer would only be available to those who met the eligibility requirements.

“As such, we considered listeners would understand from the ad that they would be able to purchase a car from Trade Centre Wales with a finance agreement allowing them to make repayments at £20 per week, regardless of their financial circumstances or status.”

In May, the Neath-based Trade Centre Group expanded into a seventh used car supermarket site after delivering record profitability in its 2021 annual financial results.

The Neath-based independent car retailer delivered what it described as an “industry-leading” 8.5% return on sales (RoS) as it returned a per-tax profit of £22 million from a turnover of £258.2m in its trading period to November 30, 2021.

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