Motor dealer loses court case but Deputy High Bailiff says company’s reputation is intact

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A prestige motor dealer has lost a breach of contract case in the high court over a second hand Mercedes that was sold in unsatisfactory condition.

But despite finding against Brent Mealin Ltd, the High Bailiff John Needham found that its managing director and sole shareholder had certainly not acted in an uncaring manner and there was nothing in his judgment that would tarnish his Snugborugh-based company’s reputation.

The court heard that Peter Brackpool purchased the black Mercedes SL350 on May 16 last year 2014 for £17,950.

He bought the car more to drive for pleasure rather than a necessity and was particularly looking forward to top-down motoring during the summer. He confirmed that the vehicle would not be used every day and he had access to two other cars, both Jaguars.

But he encountered various faults with the car immediately after delivery.

The vehicle’s clock would keep re-setting itself, the satellite navigation screen appeared to be unstable, the command control DVD was obsolete, the windscreen motor was noisy, a disc was stuck in the DVD slot, the door trim was coming away and finally and safety warning lamps on the dashboard were lit indicating a fault.

The warning lamp problem first occurred when Mr Brackpool started the car at a petrol station after he filled it with fuel for the first time, a couple of days after delivery.

He took the car back to Brent Mealin which fixed most of the faults without any quibble even though they were not covered by the after-sale warranty.

But the warning lamp problem was not rectified despite numerous trips back to the defendant’s premises.

By the end of October last year, Mr Brackpool was sufficiently fed up that he wrote to Brent Mealin indicating his frustration. He said the RAC had advised him unofficially the fault could be potentially dangerous as the air bags and roll-over bar may not deploy in an accident.

Mr Mealin rang him to say on the last two occasions when the warning lamp problem was investigated the car had gone to a Mercedes’ recognised garage which had tried to remedy the problem.

But the fault reoccurred and in February this year Mr Brackpool wrote to say he was rejecting the car and seeking a full refund. This was rejected by the dealer. Further work was carried out to the car in early February and the warning light problem did not reappear - although more than likely it was not fixed. But then the car’s gear lever stuck in the ‘park’ position and would not move. Awarding judgment in favour of the claimant, Mr Needham found the car was not of satisfactory quality when it was sold and it had been properly rejected.

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