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PAYBACK TIME! Car dealer forced to cough up by court after selling dodgy motor to unsuspecting buyer.

Byline: NEWS REPORT BY EMMA MCKINNEY

BEN Charles thought he had bought a reliable car when he handed over PS3,000 to dealer Gary Thorn for a seven-year-old Ford Focus.

But the 25 year-old design engineer has barely been able to drive the motor - because it kept breaking down.

Ben complained to Thorn about the problems he had with the car, which he first spotted in Autotrader.

And when the used car salesman from Coventry failed to refund him he took him to the small claims court.

Now Ben, from Rugby, in Warwickshire, is celebrating after the court ruled in his favour and ordered Gary, who runs GT Sales in Faber Road, Coventry, to pay him his money back in full.

"Alarm bells should have rung straight away," said Ben.

"When I first saw it, it wouldn't start. "Thorn said it needed new glow plugs, that it was simple to sort out and he would do it before I paid for it."

But three weeks after Ben brought the motor home, it broke down.

The deal included a three-month parts and labour warranty.

"This time he had to change the turbo.

It took him 10 days to fix it, but I fi-nally got it back," said Ben.

"By this point I was getting worried." His concerns were wellfounded.

Ten days later the car, which had 93,000 miles on the clock, broke down again.

This time it took Thorn 15 days to repair the car. Three days after that, it broke down again.

Thorn blamed the latest problems on a flat battery.

"I wasn't happy at this point, as so much had gone wrong," said Ben.

He decided to change tack with the car and took it to an independent garage.

Ben said that the mechanics there told him that the timing belt had been put on incorrectly and the water pump was broken.

Desperate to get the car fixed, Ben paid PS100 for the work.

He said that Thorn stumped up PS65 towards the costs.

Then, just two days later, the vehicle stopped working once more.

Ben had had enough at this stage. He returned the vehicle to Thorn in March, demanding a refund for the car, which was still within its three-month warranty.

He then went on holiday, only to return to a call from the independent garage he had previously visited.

"They said my car was ready to be picked up," said Ben. "I didn't understand what they could mean as I had left it with Thorn."

Ben claims that Thorn had taken the car to the garage and asked it to run a diagnostic check - at a cost of PS65.

"The independent garage said Thorn had said I would pay for the test, but I refused as it had never been discussed with me and I didn't want the car, I just wanted my money back," said Ben.

The car is now being stored by the garage, which will not release it until Thorn pays a PS10-a-day storage fee.

Case Ben took his case against Thorn to Northampton Civil Court after contacting Coventry Trading Standards for advice.

Thorn failed to show up at the hearing.

Ben said that he had to fork out PS100 to pay for bailiffs to recover his cash.

Thorn gave Ben his money back - plus more than PS500 for his expenses - last week.

"I feel so angry about everything that has happened," said Ben. "I just want to warn people to be really careful when they buy second hand cars." Thorn, who also runs website scrapmycarcoventry.

co.uk, admitted to the Sunday Mercury, that there had been issues with the car.

He said: "There were a few problems with the car but they were dealt with, then Ben decided to take it to an independent garage, which was up to him. "As far as I'm concerned this is a matter that has been dealt with in court and I've paid him the money back.

"I could have been mean and paid him it back at a rate of PS1 a week, but I've been fair and given him the whole lot."

The Office of Fair Trading received more than 56,000 complaints about used cars last year.

Birmingham City Council's Trading Standards team dealt with almost 700 grievances concerning car sales between April 2009 and January 2011.

CAPTION(S):

FOCUSED: Ben Charles who had major problems with his Ford Focus, left and below, and took on the car dealer who sold it to him.
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Publication:Sunday Mercury (Birmingham, England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Aug 11, 2013
Words:752
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