Susan Denney-Skelton wanted a reliable car she could use to take her terminally-ill father to his health appointments.
He would die alone in hospital - while the car was at the mechanic getting its transmission fixed three months after it was purchased.
In a decision made late last month, the Motor Vehicle Disputes Tribunal ruled that the $18,995 vehicle, a black Dodge Journey, be formally rejected.
The car dealership that sold it to her - Pearce Brothers Tandarra Enterprises Ltd in Papatoetoe, South Auckland - was also ordered to pay back just over $3000 Denney-Skelton had already paid towards the vehicle in interest and principal payments.
The Wellington woman said she bought the vehicle in late January to help get her elderly father and mother, who both had serious health issues, around to their appointments.
"I explained to the dealer that I was buying this car to drive my then terminally ill dad around and my mum, who is also very ill, to appointments.
"I was told it was reliable, had easily passed its [Warrant of Fitness], had just had its transmission serviced - an all-round fab car."
Denney-Skelton said shortly after the family got the vehicle, two faults were found - one with the brakes and the other with a rear seat. The dealership paid for both to be fixed.
At least four other faults, including a major transmission issue, would be identified by August.
"Between February and August, the radio stopped working three times, indicators randomly stop, horn switch broke, randomly stalls, won't start and after only 8000km, the transmission imploded and cost $8000, seven weeks and a specialist to fix," she said.
Denney-Skelton said the dealer offered her $300 towards the bill.
In the end, her insurance company Autosure paid out $4700 towards it, while she paid the remaining balance of $2116.94.
Her 79-year-old father, Alan Denney, died in hospital in April - while the vehicle was in the shop getting its transmission fixed.
As a result of the Motor Vehicle Disputes Tribunal decision, the dealership will also have to take on collateral credit agreements previously assigned to Denney-Skelton by a finance company to buy the vehicle in the first place.
"I am satisfied that Ms Denney-Skelton has not lost the right to reject the vehicle,'' the decision reads.
"Section 18 of the [Consumer Guarantees Act] sets out the options that a consumer has against a supplier where the goods do not comply with one of the CGA guarantees.
"Relevantly, once the transmission fault was identified on 14 August 2019, Ms Denney-Skelton had two options available for her: To require Tandarra Enterprises to repair the fault...or to reject the vehicle...because the fault amounted to a failure of a substantial character.''
Pearce Brothers general manager Adam Lucich acknowledged the decision and wished their former client well, saying there were no ill feelings towards her.
He said they initially offered $300 towards the overall bill, but then offered to pay the outstanding $2116.94 when they learned about it.
But by then, there was a bad communication breakdown between the two parties and Denney-Skelton had opted to pay that remaining balance herself, he said.
The company accepted the court ruling of a full refund and had learned some lessons in the process.
"Life goes on,'' he said.
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