Motor Ombudsman’s Vehicle Code of Practice Five Years On

A full five years on from introducing the Vehicle Sales Code of Practice, covering the sale of both new and used cars, the Motor Ombudsman has confirmed it will expand its scope to keep up with the fast-changing nature of the retail motor industry.

Over its first five years, the Code is said to have a profound impact on the trade, with 100,000 consumer contacts being received by The Motor Ombudsman in relation to the Code often focussing on new and used vehicle quality at the point of purchase. 

In this year alone around 80% of complaints have been the result of a problem with a used vehicle.

The Code was introduced following the arrival of two significant pieces of legislation in 2015, namely the Consumer Rights Act and the Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) Regulations, which saw motorists becoming more aware of their rights. This led to a growing number of enquiries in relation to a vehicle purchase.

The Code has empowered the customer, there is no doubt about that.  But it also gives the retail industry a strict black and white code by which to operate and stay within the law and industry guidelines.  It’s a tool that works both ways. 

This is why thousands of dealerships have committed to abide by the guidelines stipulated by the Vehicle Sales Code, giving consumers all-important peace of mind that these businesses are meeting high standards of service and work beyond those required by law.  

Bill Fennell, Chief Ombudsman and Managing Director of The Motor Ombudsman, said: “The automotive retail sector in the UK has changed significantly since the Vehicle Sales Code was first introduced in 2016. In fact, the last five years has seen the industry navigate periods of both buoyant and depressed car sales, as well as uncertainty and unprecedented challenges brought about by Brexit and the COVID-19 pandemic.

“However, one common factor has remained, which is that there has been a consistently high level of demand from consumers for a specialist and free automotive dispute resolution service to conclude a dispute brought about by a new or used car purchase. This thereby reaffirms that our decision to introduce a Code of Practice in this area five years ago was the right one.”

He added: “Turning our attention to the next five years, we will be looking to expand the scope and reach of the Vehicle Sales Code in line with the evolution of the fast-changing automotive landscape. This is so as to ensure that it continues to meet both the needs of consumers, and businesses operating in the motor industry.”