Six Month Prison Sentence for Second Hand Car Dealer who sold ‘excellent all round’ car to Exhall consumer

A second hand car dealer who advertised a car as ‘excellent all round’ and ‘drives like new’ when in reality it was severely corroded and later failed an MOT has been handed a six month prison sentence.

Warwickshire County Council Trading Standards brought the successful prosecution following a complaint from the Exhall resident who purchased the vehicle.

The car, a Chevrolet Matiz Xtra was first seen by the consumer in a newspaper advertisement in which it was described as ‘excellent all round’ and ‘drives like new’. But when the vehicle was delivered to the consumer’s Exhall home, the car dealer (Mr Tanvir Shah) altered the description on the ‘Used Car Sales Invoice’ to ‘sold as seen, spares or runner only’, without the consumer’s knowledge. This is an illegal statement.

The consumer was also given a photocopied MOT certificate for the vehicle which Mr Shah had doctored by removing the advisory notices. He later sought to suggest that he had told the consumer about the work advised on the MOT certificate and produced a handwritten document which listed the advisory notices, on which he had forged the consumer’s signature. Trading Standards Officers later had the vehicle tested by the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency. The DVSA report stated that the vehicle was severely corroded and issued an MOT failure.

The consumer only had the vehicle a day before she began to notice problems with it and complained to Warwickshire Trading Standards after Mr Shah refused to deal with her complaint.

After Trading Standards became involved Mr Shah refunded most of the purchase price but then advertised the same vehicle for sale in the newspaper with the same description “Excellent all round”, claiming it had 8 months MOT when in reality it had just failed an MOT.

At Nuneaton Magistrates Court on 12th December 2017, Tanvir Shah (age 70) of Leicester Street, Burton on Trent, Staffs, pleaded guilty to one offence under the Fraud Act and one offence under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations, after previously pleading guilty to four other offences under the same regulations (six offences in total).

In sentencing, the Magistrates stated that Mr Shah had demonstrated a level of planning in selling a dangerous vehicle and that this was a threat to all road users, so serious, that only a custodial sentence was justified.

Mr Shah was handed a six month custodial sentence and ordered to pay a victim surcharge.

Warwickshire County Councillor Howard Roberts, Portfolio Holder for Community Safety said:

“Vehicles that are dangerous and unroadworthy put the lives of all road users at risk. I’m delighted that Warwickshire Trading Standards have taken this action to protect car buyers.”

In mitigation, Ms Nelson-Cofie (defending) stated that Mr Shah had been in the motor trade for 40 years and he had expressed remorse for his actions.

Advice to consumers purchasing second hand vehicles

Before you buy a used car, why not use these free online tools to check it out? You only need the vehicle’s registration number.

A Government website provides free information about vehicles including the MOT status and history of the vehicle and the tax status. Visit: https://www.gov.uk/browse/driving/vehicle-tax-mot-insurance

There are also commercial websites that will tell you, without charge, if the vehicle has been stolen or imported. For a few pounds you can get further information including whether there is any outstanding finance on the car or if the vehicle has ever been written off or scrapped.

Warwickshire residents wishing to make a complaint about a vehicle they have purchased can do so by contacting Warwickshire Trading Standards via the Citizens Consumer Advice Helpline on 03454 04 05 06.

More information about Warwickshire Trading Standards is available on the Warwickshire Website: http://www.warwickshire.gov.uk/tradingstandards