Mileage correction businesses: compliance review

Office of Fair Trading (OFT) closed consumer enforcement case.

Case reference: MP-G&C/008

Complainant: OFT own-initiative investigation

Purpose of the review

The aim of the review was, working in partnership with local authority Trading Standards Services ('TSS'), to raise levels of compliance with consumer protection legislation within the mileage correction sector.

The review built on previous work conducted by the OFT in respect of mileage correction services. This includes:

  • The publication of the OFT's market study into second hand cars in March 2010, which estimated the potential loss to consumers from illegal car clocking to be up to £580m per year. The market study set out the OFT's belief that legitimate instances of mileage adjustment appear to be rare, and were unlikely to be sufficient to keep in business the number of traders openly offering 'mileage correction services' throughout the UK.
  • An OFT investigation into the activities of Colin Michael Ogle, the owner of a Swindon based mileage correction business, who pleaded guilty to five charges under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 ('CPRs') and eight charges under the Fraud Act 2006 ('Fraud Act') and was sentenced, on 21 November 2012 at Swindon Crown Court, to nine months' imprisonment for car clocking. This was the first time the provider of 'mileage correction services' had been convicted under consumer law.

Findings and outcomes

An online sweep by the OFT in the summer of 2012 identified 71 websites offering mileage correction services in the UK.

OFT provided support for the relevant TSS, who contacted the traders responsible for the websites and advised them about their responsibilities under the CPRs - adjusting a vehicle's odometer reading to show an inaccurate mileage is potentially a criminal offence under the CPRs and the Fraud Act 2006 - together with the steps (pdf 128kb) they should take to help ensure compliance. Where appropriate, traders were also advised about the need to comply with the Electronic Commerce (EC Directive) Regulations 2002 where their website failed to provide their name and contact information.

A follow up review of the identified websites was conducted by the OFT during March 2013, which found that, following advice from TSS or the OFT, traders had either closed down or made amendments to over two-thirds of the websites.

Published 1 March 2013