Norfolk Trading Standards crackdown on used car sales

Published:
01:39 PM April 3, 2022



Watchdogs are to launch a crackdown to check the safety of used cars sold by dealers in Norfolk, after a wave of complaints.

Norfolk County Council’s trading standards officers are to launch an initiative called Operation Jumpstart.

It comes amid growing complaints about used car sales, with concern some cars currently being sold have sat on the forecourt for two years as sales plummeted during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Officials are concerned that the vehicles have not been satisfactorily maintained during this period.

County Hall’s Trading Standards Department has secured national funding for the project, which will see advice given to traders and inspections to ensure vehicles being sold are safe.

A similar operation last year identified unsafe vehicles at three businesses in Norfolk – one of which was sued over an undriving vehicle.

Katryn Harris, trading standards manager at Norfolk County Council, said used car sales generate the most consumer complaints of any business sector in Norfolk.

She said the department now receives about 40 filed reports a month. While not all of them end up being official complaints, she said they were much more frequent than in the past two years.

She said: “We review each complaint and select those that are of concern to us or show patterns.

“First, we would try to speak to traders to inform them of their responsibilities.

“But if we receive three or more complaints in three months about a specific trader, that will trigger an officer review.”

She said traders generally reacted appropriately, but action could be accelerated if they did not.

Operation Jumpstart will allow Norfolk Trading Standards to fund inspectors who will visit traders and check the safety of vehicles sold.

Ms Harris said: “With the pandemic, many vehicles will have been sitting in forecourts for up to two years.

“They may well have an MOT certificate, but that’s no guarantee of safety.

“We are going to look at the safety and the technical control of the vehicles. The inspectors look at everything and we write to the traders to let them know that we are coming and to give them advice.”

The annual trading standards plan for 2022/23 will be discussed by the Tory-controlled cabinet at a meeting on Monday April 4.

Car Buying Checklist


Norfolk Trading Standards agents had these tips for buying used cars.
– Credit: PA

Norfolk Trading Standards agents offered this advice to people buying used cars.

Compare costs: Know your budget and make the most of it.
Use a price guide website to understand the value of cars in your price range.

Story: Check that the V5 document matches the car exactly.
Check his MOT and recorded mileage history online at gov.uk/check-mot-history. Are there any gaps in the service history? I found why.

Expectations: Age, price, mileage and descriptions all affect what you can expect from a used car. To ask questions. Will it be serviced? Will it have a MOT?

Confirm the transaction in writing: The price, trade-in value, technical inspection/maintenance and repair work must be stated in writing on the sales document.

Keep all your documents on the sale: Concerns can be reported via the Citizens Advice website or the free consumer helpline on 0808 223 1133.