PRESS RELEASE 13 October 2000
New Consumer Guidelines -
Buying A New Car & Using Your Credit Card
The European Consumer Centre (ECC) has issued a set of new user-friendly
guidelines for consumers on Buying a New Car and Using Your Credit Card.
These new leaflets are part of the ECC’s free information and advice service to
help consumers to shop with confidence.
The brochure on Buying a New Car explains your consumer rights under the
Sale of Goods & Supply of Services Act, 1980. It also provides guidelines on
arranging car finance and includes advice on your rights when buying a car in
another EU Member State.
So far this year an average of 6,000 new cars are sold each week. Given the
large volumes, minor faults and teething problems that can be promptly remedied
are inevitable but serious faults and poor after-sales service are not acceptable.
The ECC estimates that about one-third of the 770 car related queries received
so far this year were problems that were not remedied after one repair.
According to ECC Manager, Tina Leonard ‘feedback from people contacting our
office suggests that many consumers are not receiving a satisfactory level of
after-sales service and technical support. We urge all car dealers to honour
consumers’ statutory rights.’
The European Commission’s Competition Directorate is currently examining
whether to extend the EU’s ‘block exemption’ (beyond 2002) which allows car
makers to dominate and control the distribution and retailing of their brands.
Tina Leonard states ‘we must seriously question whether it is advantageous for
consumers to maintain this exclusive dealership network when distribution costs
can account for up to 30 per cent of the pre-tax price of a new car’. She adds
that consumers can also exercise their rights to buy a car in another Member
State where prices may be lower. However consumers should bear in mind that
VAT at 21 per cent is payable and Irish consumers are also liable for Vehicle
Registration Tax (ranging from between 22 to 30 per cent of the pre-tax price of
the price of the car in Ireland).
Many consumers are also having problems with car finance agreements sold by
garages (hire purchase and leasing agreements) that are authorised as credit
intermediaries. According to Tina Leonard consumers are buying financial
products often without being fully aware about the type of credit agreement they
are entering into or their long-term obligations under the contract. The ECC’s
Legal Adviser, Colin Daly points out that in a hire purchase agreement ownership
of the car only passes to you when the last payment is made. In a consumer
hire or leasing agreement you will never own the car. He adds that consumers
also have a responsibility to read the terms and conditions of the contract
carefully before signing and seek independent expert advice if necessary.
The second brochure Credit Cards – Your Rights provides advice on choosing
a credit card and how to get the best deal available. It also sets out your rights
and obligations when cancelling credit card transactions and your liability in the
event of credit card fraud or if a company goes into receivership. It features
handy tips when shopping online and using your credit card abroad. Tina
Leonard points out that credit card ownership is on the increase so it is important
that Irish consumers are aware of how they work.
The European Consumer Centre is part of a network of consumer offices around
Europe and is based at the Consumer Advice Shop in Dublin’s O’Connell Street.
The ECC advises local consumers on their consumer rights but also helps EU
consumers exercise their rights when shopping across borders. The ECC
received over 12,500 consumer queries in 1999 and is on target to exceed this
figure in 2000. The ECC provides a free Litigation Advice Service for
consumers involved in Small Claims Court actions. The Centre also offers an
educational outreach services to schools and community groups. The
European Consumer Centre is jointly funded by the European Commission
(Directorate General Consumer Policy & Health Promotion) and the Office of
the Director of Consumer Affairs.
For further information contact:
Caroline Waters, Marketing & PR
Tel: 01 8090607/086 6793610