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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
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I purchased a Harley Davidson Trike from a private seller

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I purchased a Harley Davidson Trike from a private seller for £15,450.00. After less than 100 miles I began having problems with the fabrication elements of the vehicle. Mudguards and steel works began cracking. I repaired these initial faults as it was relatively inexpensive and more of an inconvenience. During my sixth week of ownership the main frame developed cracks in key areas which has now rendered the trike un-roadworthy. When I confronted the seller with the problem he pointed me back to the frame maker. However, in the original Ebay advert the frame and other associated fabrications were advertised as being built by a company known as Custom Bike Fabrications. It is now evident that this was not the case and the frame was built as a favour by the previous owner of the company but not as a professional commission by his company as advertised. I also have an email from the company owner stating it was a favour and not through his company. I now have a repair estimate of £2,000.00. I have made an official complaint as advised by Citizens advice. I would just like some advice whether it would be a waste of time and money pursuing this via the small claims system as an item not as described and unfit for purpose. I have offered the seller the opportunity to provide a repair or reimburse me to commission the required repair.

Hello, my name is***** am a qualified lawyer and it is my pleasure to assist you with your question today.

How long after purchase did the initial faults occur?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
3-4 weeks for the minor issues then 6th week for the major issue
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
A few days after the frame cracks appeared I spoke to citizens advice and sent a formal letter of complaint.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Transcript of letter dated 12th JulyDear Mr. Green:
This letter is to complain about the aforementioned transaction based on the Harley Davidson Trike as being not as described. The description within your Ebay listing clearly states that the Trike Frame and associated body fabrications were undertaken by a professional company trading as Custom Bike Fabrication of Ashford, Kent. However, it has now evident that the frame build and other fabrications were not undertaken by the named professional company as stated in your listing. Should this have been known at the time of purchase I would not have purchased the Trike or considered paying out such a high price without the confidence that the build had been carried out by a professional company. In addition, and due to the invalidated build not as described the current value and re-sale value of the Trike has been reduced significantly. Furthermore, I am also raising a similar complaint relating to the fabrications of not being to a satisfactory standard. The purpose of the purchase was solely for pleasure and would only be used in fair weather conditions around my local area. Since the purchase I have done very little mileage mainly due to a progression of structural fabrication problems and weld failures which have now become evident on the main frame and will fail the now due MOT inspection. Needless to say, I am very disappointed and l have notified the Trading Standards Services via Citizens Advice.
As mentioned in previous corresponding emails. I would prefer to keep the Trike but with the following conditions if agreeable.
1. I will accept a replacement frame and associated fabrications fitted by a commissioned competent professional company or a validated repair of similar quality at your expense inclusive of collection/delivery labour and VAT
2. I will consider an offer of reimbursement of an appropriate value to allow me to commission the fabrication replacement of the invalidated components.
3. I will consider independent valuations based on the current value of the Trike and price paid in consideration of known build information.
4. Alternatively, a full refund and return.Please kindly respond to this letter within 7 to 14 days.
Neil Williamson

OK, thank you for your response. I will review the relevant information and laws and will get back to you in a short while. There is no need to wait here as you will receive an email when I have responded. Also, please do not responded to this message as it will just push your questions to the back of the queue and you may experience unnecessary delays. Thank you.

Many thanks for your patience. When a person buys a second-hand vehicle from a private seller, their rights will be somewhat limited and will not be as extensive as if they had bought it from a dealer.

In general, there is no legal requirement for the vehicle to be of satisfactory quality or fit for purpose. Therefore, the buyer will only have rights in the following situations:

· If the vehicle did not match the description given, whether in the advert or any subsequent discussions. This would amount to breach of contract or misrepresentation

· If the seller broke a specific contractual term – e.g. if they fail to do something they specifically agreed to, for example, fix certain faults. This is also going to be a breach of contract

· If the seller was actually a dealer posing as a private seller - this is an unfair commercial practice and can even be a criminal offence

· If the vehicle is unroadworthy – this occurs if its brakes, tyres, steering or construction make it unfit for the road. This will also be a criminal offence.

In the first instance, any issues with the vehicle should be resolved directly with the seller. You can also use threats of legal action as a negotiating tool, although I would only recommend formal legal action if you have valid grounds where you can show your situation falls within one of the circumstances listed above.

In this case you are most likely going to be relying on the inaccurate description that you bought something which was not as described, hence making it a breach of contract. Whilst you do have the right to take this further, remember that you are dealing with a private individual who could just bury their head in the sand and not play the court game. You would then get a judgment in your favour and whilst you will have that in place, you would still need to find the most appropriate method to enforce that to try and get any money back. So it could become a long drawn-out process, depending on how the other party deals with it.

This is your basic legal position. I have more detailed advice for you in terms of the steps you need to follow if you decide to take this further, which I wish to discuss so please take a second to leave a positive rating for the service so far (by selecting 3, 4 or 5 stars) and I can continue with that and answer any further questions you may have. Don’t worry, there is no extra cost and leaving a rating will not close the question and we can continue this discussion. Thank you

Ben Jones and other Law Specialists are ready to help you

Thank you. In the circumstances you would really be looking for compensation, ether for the value of the bike or for repairs.

Whenever a dispute arises over compensation owed by one party to another, the party at fault can be pursued through the civil courts. As legal action should always be seen as a last resort, there are certain actions that should be taken initially to try and resolve this matter informally and without having to involve the courts. It is recommended that the process follows these steps:

1. Reminder letter – if no reminders have been sent yet, one should be sent first to allow the party at fault to voluntarily settle this matter.

2. Letter before action – if informal reminders have been sent but these have been ignored, the party at fault must be sent a formal letter asking them to resolve this amicably within a specified period of time. A reasonable period to demand a response by would be 10 days. They should be advised that if they fail to do contact you in order to resolve this matter, formal legal proceedings will be commenced to pursue the compensation due. This letter serves as a ‘final warning’ and gives the other side the opportunity to resolve this matter without the need for legal action.

3. If they fail to pay or at least make contact to try and resolve this, formal legal proceedings can be initiated. A claim can be commenced online by going to Once the claim form is completed it will be sent to the other side and they will have a limited time to defend it. If they are aware legal proceedings have commenced it could also prompt them to reconsider their position and perhaps force them to contact you to try and resolve this.

Whatever correspondence is sent, it is always advisable to keep copies and use recorded delivery so that there is proof of delivery and a paper trail. The court may need to refer to these if it gets that far.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Thank you Ben. The seller has just offered a compromise of paying half of the repair bill. In order for this to be resolved quickly I am swaying to agree as I just what the vehicle usable.

ok it is up to you as to whether you accept that or not - if it resolves the issue and just allows you to move on, even if you have to pay something towards it, then it is still better than nothing

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Thanks Ben. He has not quite formalised it yet but it looks likely. In my opinion he should pay for the entire repair but this would potentially drag on for months and I just want to end this and regain the use of the Trike. Thanks

Yes I agree that he should but in reality it could drag on for a while if he is refusing to accept the full bill for repairs so you have to decide whether to cut some of your losses now or risk it all to pursue him further