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Used cars top Scots complaints list

A recently established Scottish consumer helpline funded by the Department of Trade and Industry has revealed that used cars generate the largest number of complaints by the public north of the border.

Consumer Direct Scotland, which was launched in July has received more than 30,000 calls in its first three months, with complaints about second hand cars coming out on top. Issues include service standards, repairs and sales staff.

The AA Trust in Scotland says the results come as no surprise and renews its calls for the Government to implement a licensing system for the automotive retail industry.

“I wasn’t surprised that used cars came top of the list, as complaints about second-hand cars and garages are usually at the top of any consumer survey,” says Neil Greig, head of policy for AA Trust in Scotland.

“What the AA wants to see is some form of licensing scheme, preferably statutory, that all garages have to sign up to. At the moment though, even a voluntary scheme would be better than nothing.

“The problem though tends to be at the lower end of the market with the smaller garages, which won’t join any scheme unless they are made to. Our advice to consumers is to only buy from a recognised dealer and always get the car properly checked over.”

Meanwhile, the Scottish Motor Trade Association (SMTA) believes that if consumers buy from a reputable retailer then they are less likely to end up having to make a complaint.

“Consumer society is a two way street. As long as people are prepared to pay cash for a car from a character in a pub car park then these situations are always going to arise,” says Douglas Robertson, chief executive of the SMTA which has 925 members across Scotland.

“If consumers buy from a reputable garage and look for the SMTA badge then this shouldn’t happen. If something does go wrong with a used car then they will have some restitution.”

The £30m Consumer Direct Scotland scheme employs 22 people and is expected to field up to 100,000 enquiries and complaints each year. The helpline is currently handling up to 400 calls a day.

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