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Product: Motor Vehicles
Advertiser: MSL Motor Group
Medium: Internet (Company Website)
ASAI Code 7th Edition: 2.4(c), 4.1, 4.4, 4.9, 4.10, 4.37, 5.15(i)
The “advantages of buying from Ireland” section on www.msl.ie included “Warranty” as an advantage and stated:
“Every used car under five years old comes with a minimum of 12 months warranty from MSL Motor Group*”
The asterisk linked to a note at the bottom of the page which stated:
“*Terms and conditions apply”
The “Mercedes-Benz Certified Pre-Owned Vehicle Programme” page on www.mercedes-benz.ie included a “Warranty” section which stated:
The warranty period commences on the date the Mercedes-Benz Certified Pre-owned vehicle is purchased from the Mercedes-Benz Certified Pre-Owned vehicle dealership.
The warranty cover is for a period of 12mths or 50,000km, whichever occurs first. The mileage condition does not apply if the vehicle manufacturer’s warranty is still valid.
For further details on the Certified Pre-owned Vehicle Programme, please click on the link below.
>Pre-owned Vehicle Programme”
The complainant purchased a car from the advertisers which later required certain items to be replaced while still within the guarantee term. However, the complainant was advised by the advertisers that the items in question were considered ‘wear and tear items’ and would not be covered by the guarantee. The complainant considered that the website did not make this exclusion clear and was therefore misleading.
The advertisers said that the vehicle in question was purchased under the Mercedes Benz manufacturer used car programme known as ‘Certified Pre-Owned’ and the warranty would therefore be applicable to that programme.
They confirmed that under the ‘Warranty’ section on their website, the line reads “Every used car under five years old comes with a minimum of 12 months warranty from MSL Motor Group*”and iterated that this asterisk links to the bottom of the page which states
“*Terms and conditions apply”. They said that as the vehicle in question was purchased under the Mercedes Benz Certified Pre-Owned Cars programme, the applicable terms and conditions were contained within a Customer Information Booklet that was available for download from the Mercedes Benz website.
They said that this booklet contained the following information under the ‘Exclusions’ subheading of the ‘Warranty’ section on page 4:
“Any items that require replacement as part of normal vehicle maintenance, including (but not limited to) spark plugs and/or leads, glow plugs, fuel injectors, drive belts, filters, clutch linings, brake pads/linings, brake discs, batteries and bulbs.”
They said the Customer Information Booklet was also available to download in other website sections and was given to all customers upon delivery of their car.
They said that the complaint was in relation to parts that would be considered wear and tear items which, under normal usage, would be maintenance items and not warranty items. They explained that a warranty describes the condition under, and period during, which the producer or vendor will repair, replace or otherwise compensate for the defective item without cost to the buyer and user. They said that such things as wear and tear maintenance items would not be covered under a brand-new car manufacturer’s warranty as they are worn during use of the vehicle.
The Complaints Committee considered the detail of the complaint and the advertisers’ response. The Committee noted, in Advertisement 1, that while the claim “Every used car under five years comes with a minimum of 12 months warranty from MSL Motor Group*” was linked by way of an asterisk to a footnote at the end of the webpage that stated “Terms and Conditions Apply”, there was no link through to the said terms and conditions.
The Committee noted that information in Advertisement 2 said that the warranty was for 12 months or 50,000km, whichever occurred first.
The Complaints Committee considered that where terms and conditions applied, they should be easily accessible and in the case of online advertising, consumers should be able to click directly through to them. The Committee acknowledged that at the time of adjudication, Advertisement 2 had been amended to include a link through which a customer could download the “Certified Pre-owned Vehicle Programme Customer Information Booklet”, however, they noted the advertisement did not specifically inform customers that this booklet contained important information and exclusions regarding the terms of the warranty. As this was the case, the Committee felt customers should have been specifically directed to same in the advertisement. The Committee further noted that while the booklet was intended to be given to purchasing consumers on delivery, this factor was not material to the advertising content at the pre-purchase stage.
The Committee considered that in the absence of easily accessible terms and conditions, consumers may form the view that the only terms related to the warranty were that it was for 12 months or 50,000km whichever occurred first.
In the circumstances the Committee considered that the advertising was likely to be misleading and in breach of Sections 4.1, 4.4 and 5.15(i) of the Code.
The advertisement must not reappear in its current form.