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OFT admits to mistake

The Office of Fair Trading has admitted it made a mistake and has now back-tracked on its recent ruling that gave dealers the go-ahead to claim bonuses for cars sold within three months of pre-registering.

Officials at the organization have been left red-faced after making a U-turn on their recent decision on the Supply of New Cars Order 2000. It appeared to give dealers the go-ahead to sell pre-registered cars immediately, rather than have to hold them for three months, if they wish to claim a bonus from their carmaker.

However, the OFT’s press office told AM that staff quickly reviewed the ruling following further legal advice.

“Due to the complexity of the order, the officers at the OFT who made the original decision decided to look at it again. They decided to change their decision to say that cars that are on sale within three months cannot be subject to a volume bonus,” says its spokeswoman.

She is unaware whether any car manufacturers contacted the officers following its earlier ruling, but says the U-turn stems solely from the wording of the order. “It’s strictly a legal matter and nothing to do with other outside influence,” she adds. “We think our original decision was wrong, and we’re trying to rectify it.”

The U-turn drew scathing criticism from the RMIF. “If there’s been no outside influence then why should the OFT feel it couldn’t stick with the original decision, surely somebody has queried it.

"Frankly, the whole thing is a mess,” says Sue Robinson, director of the RMIF’s National Franchised Dealers Association. She says the confusion should prompt a full review of the order.

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