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Jo C.
Jo C., Barrister
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 71053
Experience:  Over 5 years in practice
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I'm a car dealer and I sold a 50 year old car on Ebay via auction.

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I`m a car dealer and I sold a 50 year old car on Ebay via auction. Before the auction ended the buyer asked if there were any rust issues with certain areas of the car. I replied saying I had not examined the car in any great detail (and wouldn`t know what I was looking for anyway) and that if any of these areas were the defining/important factors in purchasing the car then please do not bid as I cannot guarantee they are rust free. He went ahead and bid/bought anyway.
On coming to collect the car from my place of business he further examined the car and found several faults. He tried to reduce the price but as he was getting it cheap I held on to the end auction price.
As he had pointed out several issues with the car I told him the car would be sold as a `Trade Sale` and as `Spares or Repair` only, and not fit for any particular purpose. He agreed to this and duly signed the invoice with all this printed `clearly` on it. In addition to the signed invoice he has since accepted (in writing) that he expected to spend several thousand pounds on the bodywork of the car.
My question to you is this;
Is the contract based on the original Ebay listing which I claimed it was a usable up and running car (which he hadn`t seen or signed for, but was free to do both), or, is it the one he signed for after both seeing and examining it on my premises...???
The reason I ask is because he is now saying he is entitled to a full refund as a `consumer` because he has found various rust problems underneath which were not mentioned in my original Ebay listing and which he claimed he missed whilst examining the car on my premises. Surely he is not open to revert back to the original Ebay listing/contract which was never completed or signed for...???
I await your helpful replies,
Thank you for your question. My name is ***** ***** I will try to help with this.
It is a bit more complicated than that. Whether the contract arises from Ebay or not, you are a dealer. Therefore you are bound by the Sale of Goods Act so he does have consumer rights and this is not an issue of misrepresentation.
That said, the SGA demands that anything sold be 'fit for purpose' but that does not mean perfect. It means 'reasonably good' with reference to the age of the product, the history and the purpose for which it is put. This is a 50 year old car which is going to have some fault. You are perfectly entitled to sell an item for parts, for instance, and that item would not be subject to the same test as an item for use would be.
In terms of the descriptions, that is a factor under the SGA. A vehicle should meet it's description. You can rely on the fact that you corrected any errors in the Ebay listing verbally at scene if indeed you can prove that you did so.
I wouldn't listen to TS. They should have told you all this.
Can I clarify anything for you?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Hi Jo, Thank you for your response...I`m still a little confused.. Are you saying regardless what I wrote on the invoice (spares or repair, not fit for any particular purpose, Trade Sale, etc) that I am still held to what was in the original listing...???Is he a consumer if he signed the invoice as a Trade Sale...???Correct me if I`m wrong but it sounds as if you`re saying no matter what I put on the receipt that unless I`ve listed `every` single fault he has grounds for readdress if it wasn`t mentioned in the original listing...??? Is that really the case...???Surely by signing/agreeing it`s been bought as `spares or repair`, and the written acknowledgement that he was prepared to spend thousands on the bodywork is proof in itself that he knew what he was buying...???Am I incorrect in thinking the signing of the new contract is as if the original advert/contract didn`t exist...???Could you clarify please...???James
In terms of the descriptions, that is a factor under the SGA. A vehicle should meet it's description. You can rely on the fact that you corrected any errors in the Ebay listing verbally at scene if indeed you can prove that you did so.
Whatever the invoice said, you are bound by the law and you are a merchant and he is a consumer.
No, I cannot agree the advert didn't exist. It plainly did exist.
All the subsequent negotiations go to is whether this vehicle is 'reasonably good'. You are perfectly entitled to sell an item for parts, for instance, and that item would not be subject to the same test as an item for use would be.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
OK, I think I`ve got it now..So what you are saying is, if I listed it as a `good usable car`, and he turns up and it turns out (and agreed) it is not, then under no conditions or circumstances can I sell this car to him as the then found faults were not listed in the original listing, unless, I point out every itemised fault found on the invoice, and even then he is entitled to re-address at a later point if he/I missed something along the way..Hmm.. I`m not totally convinced it`s as black and white as that but I`m sure you`re a LOT more qualified than I am so I`ll leave it at that..So just to finish up with, if I hadn`t had contacted you and just went with what Trading Standards had told me, I`m assuming I would have lost in court.. Would that not leave TS liable to litigation or is that just never going to happen...???James
Oh no.
But there are various issues at work.
What is 'reasonably good' depends on the product and it's history. If you sell a car described as in 'good condition' then a different standard is expected than a car sold for parts. That is the relevance of the description. He will probably say that your Ebay ad is wrong and you will make the point that there were other negotiations.
That said, even if your subsequent negotiations are accepted it stil has to be fit for purpose as he is still a consumer but the test is whether it is reasonably good for a vehicle meeting that description rather than the earlier one.
I suppose the only issue is that it is always easier to prove what was said in writing than verbally.
I don't think that it is going to be all that difficult to get a court to accept there were some negotiations as he did have the opportunity to inspect and it is just not credible for him to suggest that was done in complete silence.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
I do appreciate what you`re saying but I still cannot understand that if part of the new negotiations is that it is being sold as `spares or repair` and `not fit for any particular purpose`, and that is accepted and signed for, then how comes in court it would still have to be `fit for purpose` just because he is a consumer...???Surely if that be the case then the contents of the invoice is not worth the paper it`s written on...???
I think he is likely to say that the conversation didn't take place. Or to disagree with your recollection of it.
the invoice has no value anyway if all it says is trade sale as that is not lawful. He is a consumer and whatever you say on the invoice does not make him any less a consumer.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Sorry for delay, for some strange reason some of my emails have been ending up in my Junk folder..I hear what you are saying, and if indeed correct, then surely when a buy a faulty item from a shop and they mark on the receipt that it is being sold as faulty, then that also has no value whatsoever...???Here is the contents of what he signed:" I certify that I am the buyer of the above mentioned vehicle at the price stated. I acknowledge receiving delivery. I am over 18 years of age. No oral representation whatsoever was made in respect of the accuracy of the recorded mileage, the vehicle condition or its fitness for any particular purpose.I confirm that, before I signed this certificate my attention has been drawn to the age of the vehicle and the fact that defects may be present consistent with its age and condition. I understand that it is a term of the contract that I should examine the vehicle before signing this certificate to satisfy myself as to its quality and that I have carried out such an examination. It has been drawn to my attention that this is a Trade sale and that the vehicle is sold as spares or repair only and that the vehicle may have previously been subject to an insurance total loss claim. I agree to these terms and conditions."Are you still saying this carries no clout at all...??? If this be the case then you are confirming my doubts that it would be impossible to sell a car (or anything else for that matter) that slightly differed from the advertised vehicle, regardless of what the customer was informed or signed for at point of sale...
oh yes, but you didn't mark it faulty.
Trade sale does not help. You could rely on the spares or repairs. He should have inferred from that that this wasn't a recommended retail price vehicle
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