An Auckland car dealer has been ordered to refund $4300 for charging a couple more for their new vehicle than the price they’d agreed with the sales rep.

In late 2015, Consumer member Mary Edmonds and her partner John saw an ad for an Actyon Sports ute. The price was shown as $22,990 plus GST and on-road costs. The ad also offered customers a “free premium interior upgrade” if they bought the ute during the promotional period.

Mary says when they went to the dealer, Takanini Ssangyong, to test drive the ute, the sales rep told them the advertised price included the accessories shown on the vehicle in the ad and on the model they drove. These extras included a nudge bar and a deck cover.

It wasn’t until the couple took a closer look at the paperwork after they’d bought the vehicle that they found they’d been charged more than they’d agreed to pay.

Mary says they pointed this out to the dealer but were told the accessories weren’t included in the advertised price and there was a separate charge for them. She says they made “numerous attempts” to resolve the matter with the dealer before lodging a claim in the Disputes Tribunal.

The tribunal referee accepted the couple had a verbal agreement with the sales rep to buy the ute for the advertised price. The referee found the dealer had breached the terms of this agreement by selling the ute for a higher price and ordered it to refund the extra cost.

Takanini Ssangyong requested a rehearing but it later withdrew this request and paid the $4300 refund in December. The company disputes there was a verbal agreement to include the accessories at no cost.

Legal points

A contract is made when you make someone an offer, they accept it and you promise to give something, usually money, in return for what you're getting. The legal term for this promise is "consideration". A verbal contract to buy a vehicle at an agreed price is binding, just like a written one.

When one party doesn’t fulfil their side of the bargain, you can take your case to the Disputes Tribunal.

If you’re buying goods for personal use, you also have rights under the Consumer Guarantees Act. The Act requires goods to match their description and correspond with any sample or demonstration model. Traders also risk breaching the Fair Trading Act if they mislead you about the price or quality of goods.