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Customers right to reject a vehicle even after repair

It is still a commonly held myth that customers lose their right to reject a vehicle and reclaim the purchase price even though they’ve opted to have it repaired when a fault comes to light. In fact under current Sale of Goods law the option to reject a vehicle after an attempted repair is indeed a legal option. If, however, the repair has been successful and the customer has agreed to repair then there are no grounds to reject because the goods are not defective.

But what if the customer isn’t aware of what the problem has been and doesn’t know whether the repair is truly a successful lasting answer. Taken to absurdity, if the nuts on a wheel become cross-threaded and ruin the thread on the studs what if the repair involved welding the wheel on! The car could be returned and operate perfectly satisfactorily but the customer would hardly be happy with the outcome if they knew what had happened.

A recent case (JH Ritchie Ltd v Lloyd Ltd House of Lords 8.3.07) laid down the principle that if a seller refuses to tell the buyer what the defect had been then the customer is entitled to reject the goods. In the particular instance of this case it related to a piece of agricultural machinery, which on first use began to vibrate badly. In fact certain bearings were missing and although the sellers assured the customer the repair was satisfactory they wouldn’t say what the problem was.

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