‘Disguised car trader’ fined following CCPC investigation

July 4, 2022

Carlow-based car trader Jordan Black has been fined €1,100 and directed to pay costs of €2,000 to the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) following his recent conviction for misleading a consumer who purchased a car from him. Mr Black was convicted on charges of acting as a disguised trader and of misleading the consumer in relation to the mileage of the car. At Friday’s hearing in Carlow District Court, Judge Cephas Power also directed Mr Black to pay €2,500 in compensation to the consumer.

In December 2021, the court heard that the CCPC opened an investigation following a complaint from a consumer who had bought a car from Mr Black. The consumer had purchased the car in question, an Opel Insignia, from a ‘private seller’ advertising on the DoneDeal website. The consumer paid €4,200 for the car, which was seven years old at the time. While driving home after buying the vehicle, the consumer adjusted the odometer to display kilometres rather than miles, and discovered the actual mileage of the vehicle was 286,000 kms and not 178,000 kms, as he had been informed by Mr Black. Omitting or concealing material information is a misleading commercial practice under consumer protection law.

Consumer law requires traders to provide correct and full information to consumers so they can make fully informed purchases. A trader cannot falsely claim or create the impression that they are acting in a personal rather than a business capacity when selling a car. If a car dealer does not disclose that they are selling the car in the course of their business, they may be guilty of engaging in a disguised trader sale, which is against the law.

During the investigation, the CCPC also became aware that, over a two-year period, Mr Black had published 125 car advertisements on the DoneDeal.ie web platform as a “private” seller, despite being an active trader in the car selling business.

Commenting, Úna Butler, Member of the Commission said,

“As recognised by Judge Power in his sentencing, misleading a consumer about the history of a car is a serious offence. Mr Black’s conviction is a reminder to all car traders that there are consequences if you mislead consumers about your trading status or if you provide false information about the history of a car.

Over the past number of years, Brexit and COVID–19 have both contributed to significant increases in the cost of buying second-hand cars, creating circumstances where consumers may be even more vulnerable to the kind of misleading practices evident in this case. The CCPC will continue to use its powers to challenge and take enforcement action against traders found to be exploiting consumers, and urges consumers who may have been misled by a trader to report them to the CCPC.”

If you are considering buying a car, read our section on car checks for useful tips. You should also look at our car buyer’s checklist which lists important questions consumers should ask before they purchase.

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