"I'd looked at nearly
new cars and I didn't feel that they met my standards. I
felt that they were going to be more short term in their
reliability and perhaps the cover that you were getting with
a newer car."
Local Ford dealers, PW Millar Ltd in Barry, were advertising
a new Ford KA Collection in the newspaper which was exactly
what Sam wanted. She went down to take a look at it and decided
it was the car for her. Sam & Stephen both say they had
no reason to suspect it wasn't new as advertised.
So in March 2004, Stephen handed over £6,985 for the
KA and as far as he was concerned it came with a three year
manufacturer's warranty, standard on new Ford cars in the
UK . He says:
"I think the fact that you buy a car with the warranty
gives you peace of mind. If something did happen unfortunate,
it would be dealt with speedily."
Sam clocked up 25,000 miles in the first two years, but
then problems. Two months ago, the clutch went. Sam wasn't
worried because she thought the car was only about two years
old and felt safe in the knowledge that she had her warranty.
So she gave Ford head office a call just to check that she
would be covered.
However, her registration number wouldn't reveal anything
on the customer service's computer, so she was asked to repeat
the number on her car chassis again and again, and what she
was eventually told shocked her.
"He said, 'Your car was actually built and registered
in Spain in 2001'."
This means the car was already three years old when her
dad bought it as new, and someone else had already registered
it in Spain back in 2001.
A manufacturer's warranty kicks in when a car is first registered.
So, Ford's warranty actually started back in 2001 in Spain
and had run out by the time Sam had the car.
We spoke to Lyndon Millar who sold them the car, he claimed
the car hadn't been registered in Spain and said the Urrutias
would have been aware it was imported. But dad Stephen, mum
Maria and Sam were adamant that it had never been mentioned
by him in the showroom. Also, Ford head office has told us
that Mr Millar would have had access to the systems which
show previous registration.
Dealers are allowed to import from Europe . However, if
a car has already been registered abroad you don't always
get the same warranty deal.
Even though Lyndon Millar gave Sam a Ford warranty booklet
he also claims to have told the Urrutias that they were getting
a 'dealer's warranty' - instead of the manufacturer's one.
But, Stephen says:
"I understand the difference between a manufacturer's
warranty, an insurer's warranty and indeed a dealership warranty.
I was quite particular that I wanted a manufacturer's warranty.
If he'd told me it was a dealership warranty, personally
I would have said that's not a new car."
We spoke to motoring journalist Mark James and asked him
if he thought it was reasonable to sell a 2001 car as new
"Absolutely not, everybody should have been made aware
of exactly what this car was and the dealer should have had
a signed bit of paper to that effect that would have been
clear to everybody. This is a UK car, UK registered, or this
is an import from Europe that was first registered in Spain
- that would be clear to everybody and there would have been
no comeback on either side.
"It looks on paper as though the car is brand new;
it's only done 10 miles. But it's sat in a field, I guess
somewhere in Spain , for the best part of three years. It's
also got a lot of fluids in the car that are corrosive, brake
fluid for example. The oil has possibly degraded; it's not
designed to be sat in the car, it's designed to be pumped
around the car."
X-Ray spoke to other customers of PW Millar. James and Christine
Doyle bought two new cars from there back in March. The warranty
documents came through on one car but not the other. And
when James rang Ford head office to check where they were,
he was in for a shock.
"They asked me the chassis number of the Ford Focus.
I gave them the chassis number and that's when I found out
it was a Maltese import."
It turns out one of their cars had been registered in Malta
, five months earlier. The Doyles, who've now sold the car,
say they were never told it was an import, previously registered,
and that five months had already gone on the Ford warranty
when they bought it because of its foreign registration.
Stephen Urrutia feels the car was mis-sold to him and says
he didn't get what he paid for - a new car for Sam.
"I promised her a special present for her 18th birthday.
That special present included me and my wife getting her
a new car and we haven't delivered."
X-Ray spoke to Lyndon Millar of PW Millar, the man who sold
the KA to the Urrutias. We wanted to know why he hadn't informed
them about its history. At first he denied he said they would
have known the cars were imports but after we told him the
Urrutias and the Doyles claimed they'd never been told he
came back with a statement.
He now apologises to them for any misunderstanding. He says
there'd been no intention to misrepresent the vehicles. He
says they do source vehicles from various suppliers and try
to give their customers comprehensive information. He admits
customer service on this occasion seems to have fallen short
and he's investigating to make sure this doesn't happen again.
He also offered Mr Doyle a three year warranty, albeit on
the car he's no longer got. And he's offering Sam an "entirely
new car", which this time means really, really new.
We went along to give Sam the good news.
"Brilliant, now finally he's come out with a good offer,
all thanks to X-Ray that he's done it so quickly, hopefully
I'll finally get what I paid for at the very beginning."
We have spoken to Ford about our investigation; they thanked
us for bringing it to their attention and have said they're
taking the allegations very seriously. They say they will now
be carrying out a thorough investigation with PW Millar to
establish why the Urrutias and the Doyles were not informed
abut the origins of their vehicles and warranty.