Motorists in line for compensation if mis-sold an ex-rental

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Where do the fleets of vehicle rental companies go to die, once they've outlived their usefulness as hire cars? Usually, they head to the classifieds, where unscrupulous dealers may try to flog them as 'single-owner vehicles'.

But new guidance from the Advertising Standards Authority has been issued to car manufacturers and dealers, specifically ordering them to alert potential buyers of vehicles driven by more than one driver.

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Under consumer protection legislation, buyers may be able to sue for up to 100 per cent of the value of their car if mis-sold. A case could be bought if a vehicle was advertised as 'one-owner', but turned out to be an ex-rental or company car.

The move comes after a case was brought against Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, and one of the brand's approved dealerships. The dealer was criticised for using an online advert to sell two Alfa Romeo vehicles without disclosing that they had been part of the manufacturer's own fleet.

Damon Parker, head of litigation at law firm Harcus Sinclair, said that omitting ownership details could constitute a violation of Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations. He said around 200 people had come forward over a week with reports of mis-sold cars.

Though customers could be entitled to the full purchase price of the vehicle back, Parker said in most cases compensation would be nearer the 25 per cent mark to reflect potential maintenance issues and a loss of future value.

Mike Hawes, chief executive of the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, said: "We advise every consumer to carry out all the relevant background checks before committing to buying a used car."

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