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Title: Sold the wrong bike!

Date: 02 December 2015

Question

Can I get a refund on this private sale?

I am a buyer who wasn’t ‘beware’ when I bought a £1200 ‘Suzuki GSXR750Y’ from a private seller 170 miles away. Reassured by a basic HPI number plate check, and wanting to trust the seller, I managed to ride it home, only to discover that the only component that is ‘750Y’ is the frame, which has been butchered to get a GSXR600 engine in.
As I uncovered this horror show I messaged the seller who basically said: “Buyer beware, so unlucky”. But the advert stated 749cc, not 599cc, which it clearly is. Does this give me grounds in the Small Claims Court? The seller is sticking to ‘buyer beware’ and that's how he bought it two years ago.

Answer

The basic rule here is indeed caveat emptor – let the buyer beware. In a private sale, it is generally the buyer’s job to exercise due diligence and ensure that he is getting what he is paying for. If the seller hasn’t made any false statements then you have no recourse against him. That said, a seller is not allowed to say any old thing even if it’s not true just to induce you into the sale.

In your case you have the advert which wrongly identifies the type of bike which was being offered for sale. That would appear to be a fundamental misrepresentation of what was for sale. As a result of that misrepresentation, which you relied upon, you bought the bike, only to discover it was not as advertised and you should therefore be able to bring a claim under the Misrepresentation Act 1967. The remedy for misrepresentation will depend on whether or not the seller made the misrepresentation on purpose or not. Either way you should be entitled to undo the contract, which here would mean a refund, and if the misrepresentation was fraudulent then you may also be entitled to damages.

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