Cheshire: Car dealership owner fined for misleading practices

THE owner of a car dealership has been ordered to pay tens of thousands of pounds for misleading practices.

Matthew Webster, from Fearnhead, admitted five breaches of trading standards in relation to his ownership of Faster Car Finance Ltd at Warrington Magistrates Court on Wednesday April 13.

Magistrates heard the 36-year-old first set up the used car business – which also traded as Faster Car Sales Ltd and FC Car Sales Ltd – in February 2020.

But the company ‘provided misleading information to customers’, a ‘thorough’ investigation by Warrington Borough Council’s trading standards team revealed.

Officers received a number of complaints from consumers who purchased cars from Webster, of Templeton Drive, between October 2020 and September 2021.

They said they were led to believe that outstanding finance agreements on partially traded vehicles would be settled in full by him when they purchased their new car.

However, the pending arrangements were not settled until their vehicles were actually sold, leaving affected customers to pay installments on two plans at once.

WBC said that “in any case, they had unsuccessfully attempted to resolve this issue with the company.”

The court heard Webster was “remorseful and admitted the company was at fault”, as he intended to close the business and start a new, similar business.

During sentencing, the panel of magistrates ‘viewed his behavior with a very dim view’ – adding that the defendant had ’caused a great deal of worry and stress’, while affecting the victims’ credit ratings and causing financial loss.

He was told to pay compensation totaling £16,735.08 and fines of £1,000 for each breach, as well as £4,640 in court costs and a victim fine surcharge of £190 – totaling £26,565.08.

Similar charges against the company itself and former company director Tracey Barratt, 54, of Berkshire Drive in Woolston, have been dropped.

Cllr Hitesh Patel – executive board member of the environment, housing and public safety council – said: ‘We are pleased to have another positive outcome and the consumers involved have been able to resolve this issue.

“If you feel you have been misled or wish to report unfair business practices, you can contact Citizen’s Advice for advice and support.”