Malmesbury car dealer found guilty of fraud

A car trader has been fined after misleading customers about vehicle prices.

Paul Hyams, the director of Hyams Autos Ltd in Malmesbury, has been found guilty of two counts of fraud by false representation.

The case centered on a non-optional charge of £99 in the price of vehicles advertised for sale on Autotrader’s website which was not disclosed to customers.

The charges relate to 16 vehicles sold between April 18, 2018 and April 4, 2019 and 19 others sold between January 28, 2018 and July 30, 2019.

Hyams, of Hayes Road, Nailsworth, was also found guilty of a charge of engaging in a business practice which is a deceptive action containing false information.

On April 7, 2019, a 2011 Volkswagen Touran went on sale on the Hyams Autos Ltd website. A customer who visited the Malmesbury showroom was not told of the additional £99 cost until he had tested a vehicle and decided to buy it.

The invoice stated: “It caused the average consumer to make a transactional decision they otherwise would not have made.”

Hyams had denied all offenses in 2020 but was found guilty by Salisbury Magistrates’ Court on Thursday.

In total, he was fined £800 and surcharged to fund victim services of £80 and costs of £2,000.

Paul Hyams and Hyams Auto’s have been found guilty of misleading advertising and fraud, in particular in relation to charging a £99 fee in 2019.

A statement posted on the Hyams Autos Facebook page said: “While Hyams Autos accepts the court’s decision, the regulations regarding administrative fees are unclear.

“We deliberately did not deceive anyone and everyone who paid the administration fee knew of the fee before the cars were sold and were happy to make the payment.

“Since the matter came to our attention, we have taken extra steps to ensure that all customers are fully aware of the £99 administration fee and why it is being charged.

“We have been trading in Malmesbury for over 45 years and are fortunate to have many loyal and satisfied customers.

“The verdict rendered by the courts does not reflect our business philosophy or our position in the local community.”

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