Lisa Cave was this week (December 4) convicted of selling a faulty car to a consumer.
The 45-year-old was also found guilty of restricting the consumer’s rights by pretending to be a private individual when she was involved in the sale of a number of cars.
The case was brought following a complaint from a consumer who had purchased a BMW from Cave in Middlesbrough.
The car broke down the same day and had to be recovered by the AA. It was subsequently found that the vehicle’s seatbelt pre-tensioners were no longer working and the air bags had been removed.
An investigation by Middlesbrough Trading Standards revealed that a number of vehicles had been sold from telephone numbers used by Cave and the cars were photographed outside her home.
The Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 makes it an offence to falsely claim or create the impression that the trader is not acting for purposes relating to their trade, business, craft or profession, or falsely representing oneself as a consumer.
In doing so Cave restricted the rights of the consumer as she would have had rights to a refund under the Consumer Rights Act 2015.
In an impact statement the complainant said: “After purchasing what I thought was a reliable car for me and my family I was left devastated when it broke down.
“I got in contact with Middlesbrough trading standards and finally felt like my voice was being heard. I am so grateful for the help and support that they have provided me.”
District Judge Kate Meek, presiding over the case at Teesside Magistrates’ Court, found the defendant guilty on both charges.
Cave, of Forber Road, was fined £200 and a compensation order was given to the consumer of £1,910.
Judith Hedgley, Middlesbrough Council’s Head of Public Protection, said: “The legislation is there to protect consumers.
“We cannot allow people to set up a business from home selling cars and giving the impression that they are not a trader.
“Operating in this way restricts the rights of a consumer as a trader must offer refunds for faulty goods.
“With the internet people can advertise their own cars for sale but it is important that we stamp out the illegal activity of traders pretending to be private individuals.
“The public should check that the details on the V5 document correspond with the address where the vehicle is situated and they should check the seller’s history for selling other vehicles.”
Councillor Julia Rostron, Middlesbrough Council’s Executive Member for Adult Social Care and Public Health, said: “We aim to protect our consumers from unfair trading practices.
“We also provide support to businesses and encourage anyone in Middlesbrough who wants advice in starting up a business or any other trading query to seek advice from the council.”