Almost 13,000 car buyers have contacted the newly created Motoring Ombudsman in its first year of operation.
Among the issues raised with the dispute resolution body were complaints over the condition of vehicles, inaccurate adverts and poor information on finance.
The dispute resolution service was set up to enforce the Motor Industry Code of Practice for Vehicle Sales and in response to growing public enquiries into car purchase-related rights in the wake of the Consumer Rights Act and Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) legislation introduced in 2015.
Around 1,100 members of the public now contact the body every month, up from 700 in its first month, but only 540 of the enquiries received this year have resulted in the Ombudsman opening cases and just 54 have required a final ruling by the Ombudsman.
In the first half of this year, the most frequent breaches of the Code were in relation to the quality of the vehicle not of the correct standard; the lack of sufficient information for a customer to make a decision on the most suitable finance product; and advertising content being inaccurate.
Bill Fennell, Chief Ombudsman and managing director of the Motor Ombudsman, said: “Contacts from consumers regarding the Vehicle Sales Code have continued to increase significantly since it was introduced in 2016, and they now form a significant part of the workload of our adjudicators.
“It’s important to point out however, that this upward trend in the volume of individuals getting in touch with us does not signal a rise in the number of customer complaints or that there has been a decline in industry standards. Instead, it’s the result of heightened awareness amongst motorists of the Code of Practice and the benefits of engaging in open dialogue and alternative dispute resolution via The Motor Ombudsman, without the need to pursue costly legal action to solve an issue with a garage.”
The Motor Ombudsman covers the sale of both and new used cars, and oversees the implementation of four codes of practice covering new cars, vehicle sales, servicing and repairs and warranty products.