Cwmbach Car Firm Prosecuted
A Cwmbach car firm that sold a dangerous vehicle to an Aberdare man and asked him to sign misleading and unscrupulous “terms and conditions” of sale to avoid come back on the condition of the vehicle has been prosecuted.
One Direction Cars Ltd, of Canal Road, and management members Tahir Karim and Zaher Karim were all prosecuted following a successful investigation on behalf of the customer by Rhondda Cynon Taf Council Trading Standards.
Trading Standards experts were contacted in May 2014 by a consumer complaining they had purchased an un-roadworthy Daewoo Matiz for £500 from One Direction Cars Ltd (formerly Mr Auto).
Officers arranged for an official inspection of the vehicle and it was confirmed the vehicle was dangerous and should not be used on a public highway as it constituted a safety hazard to both the user and other road users.
The off-side rear fuel tank metal strap was corroded and snapped in places, meaning it could have fallen off at any time and the breaking system, including handbrake, were corroded and worn. There was also coolant system pressuring indicating possible cylinder head or head gasket fault.
Officers were also shown misleading terms and conditions of sale which the consumer had been asked to sign in which it was stated the buyer “accepted the vehicle was sold as seen” and that “no warranty or guarantee is given or implied”. The terms and conditions also stated the buyer understood the car was “being sold on a spares or repairs basis”.
As a result, Trading Standards launched a criminal investigation and began attempts to contact and interview Tahir Karim as the person who identified himself as in charge of One Direction Cars Ltd and Zaher Karim as he was listed as the director of the company.
However, officers received no contact or response from One Direction Cars Ltd or either individual.
As a result, One Direction Cars Ltd was charged with:
- Agreeing to sell a dangerous product, contrary to the General Product Safety Regulations 2005.
- Engaging in a commercial practice which was misleading under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008, namely causing the customer to sign a document entitled “terms and conditions”.
Tahir Karim was charged with:
- The sale of the dangerous vehicle was due to his actions or default under the General Product Safety Regulations 2005
- The misleading commercial practice relating to the terms and conditions was an offence committed due to the act or default of Tahir Karim, contrary to the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008.
- That Tahir Karim did without reasonable cause fail to give to a duly authorised officer of Rhondda Cynon Taff County Borough Council, other assistance or information which the officer may reasonably require of him for the purpose of her functions under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008,
Zaher Karim, of Abbeyhills Road, Oldham, was charged with failing to give to a duly authorised officer of Rhondda Cynon Taf Council other assistance or information that the officer may reasonably require of him for the purpose of their functions under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008.
The case was heard at Pontypridd Magistrates’ Court on July 22 where One Direction Cars Ltd, Tahir Karim and Zaher Karim admitted these offences they were charged with. Tahir Karim was in court.
In defence, he told the court they didn’t respond to Trading Standards officers as they buried their heads in the sand and thought the problem would go away. Tahir Karim believed as he was not director of the company, he didn’t have to respond while Zaher Karim believed, as he was not at the garage at the time, didn’t need to respond.
They stated the consumer was aware that the vehicle did not have a valid MOT and the price of the vehicle indicated it was not in the best condition.
Magistrates fined One Direction Cars Limited £1500 for each offence, £300 costs, a surcharge of £100 and compensation of £500 totalling £5400. A collection order was issued for this.
Magistrates fined Tahir Karim £300 for each offence, £300 costs and £30 surcharge, totalling £1230.
Magistrates fined Zaher Karim £300, £300 costs and £30 surcharge totalling £630.
Paul Mee, Director of Public Health and Protection at Rhondda Cynon Taf Council, said: “Every resident and consumer in Rhondda Cynon Taf has the right to purchase safe and roadworthy vehicles with the confidence that their consumer rights, as set out in law, are protected at all times.
“The rights of consumers and the legality of the goods – in this case a car – they buy are set out in law for good reason, to ensure goods purchased are safe, legal and of the standard expected and that there is come-back if something goes wrong.
“These rights were not upheld in this case and we were pleased to be able to step in on behalf of the consumer to deal with the offences committed. I hope this serves as reassurance to other residents and consumers that we do have an expert, professional team who will take action where needed. I would also like to remind all residents that we have an extensive car sales trade in the county borough and Trading Standards can assist you if any vehicles are misdescribed or unsafe.”