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Title: Do I have any comeback for niggling faults?

Date: 25 July 2012

Question

I have recently bought a bike from X motorcycles and as I know very little about bikes I trusted them to make sure it’s in good condition. I bought zx10r 2004. After picking this up I couldn’t drive it for 2 weeks so it sat on my drive until the 17 June. As soon as possible I was out on it only to find the bike has been dropped at a low speed and cracked a cover under the fairing, and scraping a fairing bolt down to nothing leaving it unable to be taken off, the cracked cover was leaking oil. When I took it back to the dealer they tried to blame me for dropping it which I haven’t done. Once we finished arguing they agreed to fix it.

When I got it back it had a scratch on the left side and they are now saying I have done this. The alarm has never worked correctly. After setting the alarm and leaving it for around 40 seconds it won’t turn off and I have to set it off to turn it off. The dealer is saying they won’t cover it because it’s over 5 years old and they start to play up.

I got it back the middle of last week and had my first big ride out on it yesterday to find it has a leaking front fork. They have told me to bring it in so they can look at it. I asked them about servicing and they said they serviced it for me when I bought it. It has done 11k but I can’t see this being true with all the problems plus they wouldn’t have been able to get the right side fairing off. I don’t know how to proceed and where I stand with this bike. Is there any advice you can give me and advise me the best way to handle this?

Answer

There is a good chance that you can get the dealer to repair your bike free of charge though they may take a bit of persuading on that front so I’ll set it out in some detail.

The position is as follows:

Your legal protection when you buy a bike from a dealer (or anything else for that matter) comes from the Sale of Goods Act 1979 and it’s the reason that every warranty you will see in the UK has written next to it “this does not affect your statutory rights”. The idea being that the dealer can give you more rights but cannot take away the statutory rights that come with any purchase.

The condition of the bike falls within section 14 of the Sale of Goods Act which says that “goods are of satisfactory quality if they meet the standard that a reasonable person would regard as satisfactory, taking account of any description of the goods, the price and all the other relevant circumstances.”

In your case, if the bike was sold as being in good condition then the average person would clearly think that it is not of satisfactory quality as required by the Act. Once the bike is deemed not of satisfactory quality then the dealer has to repair it (also required by the Act), replace it, or give you your money back.

As a further helpful point on this, recent EU regulations state that if an item develops a fault within 6 months of purchase then there is an assumption that the item was faulty at the time of purchase unless the seller can prove otherwise.

You should note however that if you were made aware that the bike had some issues when you bought it, and that the purchase price was reduced to reflect these issues then the position is somewhat different. Where a bike is “sold as seen” in acknowledgment of problems it has then the dealer will not be under any obligation to repair it.

Ultimately this will come down to what it was that you thought you were buying. If it was supposed to be a fully working bike which, while second hand, was in good working order then the dealer should fix it for you free of charge. If you bought a bike that needed fixing up then you will be responsible for the cost yourself even if it turns out that it was in worse condition that you may have originally thought.

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