A court has ordered £8,000 compensation to be paid to a Dorset resident who was sold a clocked and misdescribed horsebox van conversion.
Classic Conversions Ltd, based in Nottinghamshire have been given a conditional discharge and ordered to pay compensation and costs for selling a horsebox with a false mileage reading and loading limit.
In autumn last year Susie Huntbach purchased a horsebox Classic Conversions Ltd on ebay to transport two large horses. It was advertised as a 3.5 tonne converted Vauxhall Movano van with a 1,280kg capacity which had travelled 130,000 miles.
They met to take delivery and make payment. It was during this transaction that one of the company’s directors gave her a receipt for £7,995 with the words “SOLD AS SEEN” handwritten on it.
Miss Huntbach found several problems with the van. She contacted Dorset County Council trading standards service after attempts to reach an arrangement with the company had failed.
Officers investigated and found that the vehicle had actually travelled over 190,000 miles and so it been ‘clocked’ by 60,000 miles. Also the payload capacity was only 760kg, over half a tonne less than that advertised. This made the van unusable for Miss Huntbach as her two horses weighed considerably more than this.
On 4 December 2013 at Bournemouth Magistates’ Court, Classic Conversions Ltd of 8 Lawn Court, Carlton-In-Lindrick, Worksop, Nottinghamshire pleaded guilty to four offences of misleading a consumer during the sale of a van converted into a horsebox. The offences related to:
• claiming that the vehicle had travelled 130,000 miles when it had travelled more than 190,000,
• advertising that the vehicle had a payload of 1280kg when in fact the available payload was 760kg,
• claiming that the vehicle was suitable to transport two 16.2 hand horses when it was not and
• attempting to restrict the consumer’s rights by using the statement “SOLD AS SEEN” on an invoice.
The court heard that the company had not checked the mileage or the weight of the vehicle through a lack of experience in this field rather than any deliberate act on their part.
The company was given a two year conditional discharge, and ordered to pay compensation to the victim of £8,260 and costs to the County Council of £2,079.
Neil Martin, principal trading standards officer for Dorset County Council, said, “We are pleased that the courts acknowledged that this was a serious matter. Such vans are popular because they can generally be driven on an ordinary driving licence and there is no requirement to have a tachograph.
“Even if there had been no other problems with the vehicle apart from the misdescribed capacity, if Miss Huntbach had been driving the van with two horses on board, the vehicle would have been significantly overloaded which may have been a safety issue.
“I would urge consumers buying such vehicles to take extreme care. Ask the seller for the unladen weight of the converted van before committing to the purchase and as with all vehicle purchases take care to investigate the history of the vehicle through the various companies that offer these services.”