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Online car-buying firm agrees to more transparent pricing

OFT found webuyanycar.com staff got bonuses for undervaluing cars

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An online car-buying company has agreed to change the way it operates after consumer regulator the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) said that was not transparent with customers about its pricing.

A year-long OFT study revealed that nearly 96 per cent of people who sold their cars to webuyanycar.com received less for their vehicle than the original online valuation.

The OFT found that We Buy Any Car Ltd's pricing practices may breach aspects of two regulations, the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 and the Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts Regulations 1999.

The firm give the impression that their online valuation of a vehicle is the price a customer can expect to receive, whereas the car's final valuation is subject to amendment following a visual inspection, the OFT said.

The OFT found that staff conducting the inspections were able to secure larger performance-related bonuses for re-appraising the value of cars to lower prices, which the OFT said had the potential to encourage unfair conduct.

The investigation found that We Buy Any Car's online valuation was not valid only for the seven day period as stated, and that the final price customers could expect from the sale of their car was subject to road tax refund being deducted, which the OFT said the firm had failed to make clear during the initial online valuation stage.

We Buy Any Car had also "failed to assess customer complaints in a fair, reasonable, consistent and professional manner," said the OFT report.

We Buy Any Car Ltd signed undertakings to address OFT's concerns. It has promised to make it clear to the customer that the final price for a vehicle will be decided following an onsite inspection.

We Buy Any Car will also inform customers at least 24 hours in advance of an appointment that their vehicle's valuation has been reduced for market reasons, and will address its bonus procedures to ensure employees do not stand to gain by artificially undervaluing cars, according to the undertakings.

Copyright © 2011, OUT-LAW.com

OUT-LAW.COM is part of international law firm Pinsent Masons.

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