Following an investigation by the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) in the UK, a Swindon based trader, Colin Michael Ogle, has been jailed for nine months for car clocking.
This is the first time the provider of 'mileage correction services', rather than the seller of clocked vehicles, has been convicted under UK consumer law.
The case follows a market study by the OFT into the used-car sector in 2010 which estimated the potential loss to consumers from the purchase of vehicles with false mileage is up to £580 million a year.
A similar survey by Motorcheck.ie conducted in 2011 highlighted the extent to which car clocking is crippling the used car industry in Ireland. This survey found that 1 in 5 vehicles Motorcheck'ed in 2011 had returned an odometer discrepancy.
Mr Ogle was sentenced yesterday at Swindon Crown Court after he had previously pleaded guilty to five charges under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 ('CPRs') and eight charges under the Fraud Act 2006. Mr Ogle also agreed to a further 19 offences being taken into consideration.
Like plenty of similar companies in Ireland, Mr Ogle owned a business that advertised and provided a mileage correction service claiming to fix a range of problems with car, bike and van dashboards such as making changes to speedometers and odometers. He accepted that he adjusted vehicle odometers and had failed to take proper steps to check the reasons for requested mileage corrections or keep proper records in 70 to 100 instances.
The OFT believed that as a result of Mr Ogle's actions, future purchasers were deceived and over paid for clocked vehicles.
His Honour Judge Ambrose said, 'The second-hand car market affects us all. Mileage significantly affects the market. Consumers rely on mileage when making purchasing decisions. It is the second biggest purchase consumers make after property and for others it is the single biggest purchase.
'The clocking of cars corrupts the market and brings unjustified suspicion on honest traders.'
A further 71 websites under scrutiny
Like Motorcheck, the OFT believes that legitimate mileage adjustment is extremely rare. They have identified 71 other websites advertising mileage correction services online and are working with local Trading Standards Services in the UK to contact these businesses to ensure they are aware of their responsibilities and to inform them that they run the risk of prosecution if they do not comply with consumer protection law.
Motorcheck.ie has been at the forefront of a campaign to eradicate the practice of car clocking in Ireland. The car history experts established Ireland's first national mileage register in 2009 and has since collected over 8 million odometer readings. Each of which are consulted on a daily basis by used car buyers intent on verifying the mileage of a prospective purchase.
For further information on car clocking please click here