What to Do??

Apr 3, 2010
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Well the van serviced today. When I pulled the van out the first thing I noticed was that the rear panel is cracked at the top corners both side. This is the rear panel that was replaced last June after being found cracked at the last service. The van is an Elddis Xplore 530 (2014) btw. Called the dealer straight away and sent photos and they said they would get straight on to Elddis for advice.
Thing is if the panel is going to crack every 9 months after only 5 - 6 hundred miles of touring do I want to keep it. I suggested to the dealer that they might like to have it back as I believe it is not fit for purpose. Since new it has had 3 chargers, new front and side window seals, new front window, replacement inside locker doors and new internal wall between lounge and bathroom.
Waiting for the dealer to come back to me. CCC advice line says I should get an independent assessment as to fitness for purpose but where would I get that?
 
Mar 14, 2005
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Whilst I sympathise with your experiences, sadly I suspect cracks in a end panel are not likely to provide enough of a fault to render a caravan unfit for purpose in the context of the Consumer Rights Act. It may be deemed as not of merchantable quality, or as having a inherent design, material or workmanship fault.

As you haven't identified how old the caravan is I can't offer an opinion as to the likelyhood of a successful CRA claim, and I'm not certain how the previous repairs I assume made under manufacturers warranty would affect the process.

Don't forget that if you progress a CRA claim it is against the seller, not the manufacturer.

You would need to engage a well respected caravan service company's who is not an agent for the manufacturer to provide an independent expert opinion.
 
Nov 16, 2015
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Sounds likè my 2013 Còachman rear panel , repaired undered warrantey. , It sound like a lot of caravans have had the same problems. . Cheap labour. Bad workmanship. .
 
Mar 14, 2005
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EH52ARH said:
Sounds likè my 2013 Còachman rear panel , repaired undered warrantey. , It sound like a lot of caravans have had the same problems. . Cheap labour. Bad workmanship. .

It could be bad design, or poor materials, but it could also be damage from improper use, neglect (if there is a service or maintenance requirement) or even deliberate damage.
 
Nov 11, 2009
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My 2005 Series 5 Bailey required a new front panel in year 2, and a new rear panel in year 3. My current van requires a new rear panel which is being undertaken via the warranty. All were due to cracks. How they occurred certainly wasn't down to deliberate or accidental damage, or through any action on my part. All allowed damp ingress and certainly were not cosmetic defects.
A purely non scientific view is that our poor roads which have been endemic since John Prescott vowed to get us out of our cars don't help caravan longevity.
 
May 7, 2012
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This has been a problem with several makes of caravan but judging by forum reports is worst with Eldiss.
I agree with the Prof on the legal position.
If you let us know where you are I hope someone can find you an expert.
 
Apr 3, 2010
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I am in deepest darkest Dorset - Gillingham :)
Went to talk to the dealer on Saturday to try and reach an amicable solution. I have to say that the dealer has been great over the 4 years we have had the van but then we have seen a lot of him with a visit every year and sometimes more often. He is going to come back to me this week. Elddis will pass judgement today. It would seem that panel repair ( end caps) rather than replacement is the common solution. I just think that a panel which cracks after 9 months and 600 miles use is not fit for purpose. I also think that a panel which cracks after such a short time is indicative of it being stressed when fitted.
 
Nov 11, 2009
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Grahamh said:
I am in deepest darkest Dorset - Gillingham :)
Went to talk to the dealer on Saturday to try and reach an amicable solution. I have to say that the dealer has been great over the 4 years we have had the van but then we have seen a lot of him with a visit every year and sometimes more often. He is going to come back to me this week. Elddis will pass judgement today. It would seem that panel repair ( end caps) rather than replacement is the common solution. I just think that a panel which cracks after 9 months and 600 miles use is not fit for purpose. I also think that a panel which cracks after such a short time is indicative of it being stressed when fitted.

Its the rear offside end cap on my Sprite that has developed hairline cracks. I assumed it would be repaired using plastic welding/staples and filler. But no. Swift recommended a full replacement. As you say developing cracks if the caravan has not been ill used/damaged is indicative of a design or manufacturing shortcoming. I must say though that although it was disappointing for the main dealer to have found some cracks, the support from the Dealer and Swift has been excellent.
 
Apr 3, 2010
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Spoke to the dealer this morning. He was going to talk to his partner and Elddis about the situation. His answer was that Elddis are willing to put corner cap repairs on under warranty. We had discussed his taking the van back and my swapping it for another van - he had a Coachman that is the same layout, but his offer involves a large payment on my part to 'part exchange' that I find unacceptable in that he values the coachman at top book and my van at trade in - in effect he would be making money on both vans at my expense.
My view is that corner repairs make it obvious that the van has a fault and devalues it - it would be unmerchantable I believe is the term Prof used.
Question is what is the next step. Shall seek legal advice I think.. The list of repair work to the van in the 4 years since new is long but the short timespan since the rear panel was changed -9 months is my main complaint. :(
 
May 7, 2012
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My view is that the panel is not fit for purpose and should be replaced under the Sale of Goods Act or Consumer Protection Act. and you are entitled to a replacement, even if the repair could work. If you are a member of either of the clubs you could get advice from their Legal Helpline who I suspect will have more on this topic as it has appeared on forums before.
Eldiss might be within their rights under the guarantee but the dealers have the contract with you and it is them you need to pursue if you want a replacement quoting the appropriate act.
If you bought the caravan on HP or used a credit card for any part of the purchase the finance company are equally liable and you might wish to contact them.
If you cannot get it done to your satisfaction though I am afraid the only solution then is to establish the cost of replacement and issue a small claims summons for this adding in more for inconvenience and any additional expenses you have incurred and claiming interest at 8%, plus costs which are very limited. This would be extremely costly and difficult for the dealer and Eldiss to defend and I doubt they would try.
 
Mar 14, 2005
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Grahamh said:
Spoke to the dealer this morning. He was going to talk to his partner and Elddis about the situation. His answer was that Elddis are willing to put corner cap repairs on under warranty. We had discussed his taking the van back and my swapping it for another van - he had a Coachman that is the same layout, but his offer involves a large payment on my part to 'part exchange' that I find unacceptable in that he values the coachman at top book and my van at trade in - in effect he would be making money on both vans at my expense.
My view is that corner repairs make it obvious that the van has a fault and devalues it - it would be unmerchantable I believe is the term Prof used.
Question is what is the next step. Shall seek legal advice I think.. The list of repair work to the van in the 4 years since new is long but the short timespan since the rear panel was changed -9 months is my main complaint. :(

Hello Graham,

I understand your disappointment with the caravan, and if it had been mine I'm sure I would also be pursuing the best outcome, but sadly the situation is not quite as clear cut as you hope.

You still have not told us how old the caravan is, only that you have owned it for about 4 years. That could men you purchased it second hand 4 years ago. But assuming you purchased it new, by my reckoning it must have been new prior to Oct 2015, which is significant as the Sale Of Goods Act was in force, rather than the 2015 CRA, and this affects how the matter may be handled.

It must be remembered that both the SoGA and the CRA only apply to contract you have with the seller. The manufacturers warranty is a totally separate contract between you and the manufacturer.

The later CRA takes many of its characteristics from the older SoGA. , but in at least one relevant respect it differs. Where as the later CRA sets out the case that the seller can only make one attempt to repair before the customer has the right to request a full refund, the earlier set out no specific limit on the number of repairs.

It's also unclear if the repair undertaken through the manufacturer's warranty scheme would count as a sellers repair, though it certainly supports the case for the original product being defective.

In the strictest sense, even with the history of failures, the caravan as a whole has remained fit for purpose, In so far that none of the faults has rendered it 100% unusable, it has towed and provide accommodation, including sleeping, heating, cooking and hygiene.

In particular your reference to "merchantable quality" which in the light of the additional history you have provided may need some more detailed clarification.

It is my view that if a new caravan is sold and within weeks of normal ownership the end panel cracks, that would suggest the end panel is not of merchantable quality. It clearly had a fault either of design, material or workmanship.

The manufacturer recognised this under its warranty scheme and replaced it, But it seems it has again failed in a similar way, so the replacement end cap or workmanship of teh repair was also not of a merchantable quality.

The problem seems to be well known, and the manufacture has undertaken a repair program on other affected units where the repair consists of additional caps presumably to strengthen the affected parts. The available evidence so far suggest that this repair method is working, and thus would most likely work in your case also. Presuming the success of this repair method is sustained then it would be judged as an effective remedy or merchantable quality.

Its a question of timing, As a new caravan it demonstrated a failure of the panel due to an inherent fault. But despite this failure the caravan is still functioning after 4 years. SoGA only remains active in England and Wales for 6 years after the point of purchase, and as this period expires the scale of remedies diminish towards zero, however the time scale clock pauses whilst a a reported fault is investigated and resolved, so here again the validity of your claim may have different outcomes.

As time goes by the onus falls more heavily on the customer to be able to prove the faults are indicative of faulty design, materials or workmanship.

SoGA and the CRA were never designed to be a customer charter to take advantage of a seller, it was to make retail sales as fair to all parties. So its important to be scrupulously honest in these matters.

As you may see from my comment the matter is far from clear, so I strongly advise you consider very carefully what action you are prepared to take, and I suspect it may be wise to seek professional advice.
 
May 7, 2012
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I appreciate what the Prof says here and while I think a new panel is justified as the repair will be clear for a subsequent purchaser to see and might reduce the value therefore, as far as I can see no one has tested the point in court. As I said if he is a member of one of the clubs it would be worthwhile speaking to the Legal Helpline who must surely have dealt with previous cases of this type and probably know more than us as to the success or otherwise of people sticking out for a new panel.
It might be worthwhile asking a non Eldiss dealer what they think of caravans with the repair rather than a replacement panel to see if they would deduct something for this. If they do then a claim for a new panel or additional compensation might be stronger.
I suppose at the end of the day it may be preferable to some people to take a repair as like the Prof I have no knowledge of the repair failing than risk yet another cracked end panel. What beats me is that despite this being a serious problem costing a lot to repair Eldiss did not take appear to take action to overcome this at the time, although I would hope new models have better panels. Presumably somewhere along the line they have done something.
 
Apr 3, 2010
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Thanks for the reply Prof and Ray.
Sorry but thought I had stated in the OP that we bought the van in 2014 from new.
After taking advice over the last couple of days and checking and rechecking details I wrote to the dealer today. I had been waiting for them to ring back as promised but when they failed to do so I rang them this morning to get a rather short message to say that they rejected our offer on an alternative van and that Elddis would only repair the cracked panel, not replace it. The advice that I have is that the panel replacement last June is either unfit for purpose or was fitted with insufficient care/lack of skill and therefore not acceptable. We have therefore refused to accept that course of action. I take on board your remarks about the SoGA. I have been careful to be accurate and never less than honest.
 
Mar 14, 2005
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Grahamh said:
Thanks for the reply Prof and Ray.
Sorry but thought I had stated in the OP that we bought the van in 2014 from new.
After taking advice over the last couple of days and checking and rechecking details I wrote to the dealer today. I had been waiting for them to ring back as promised but when they failed to do so I rang them this morning to get a rather short message to say that they rejected our offer on an alternative van and that Elddis would only repair the cracked panel, not replace it. The advice that I have is that the panel replacement last June is either unfit for purpose or was fitted with insufficient care/lack of skill and therefore not acceptable. We have therefore refused to accept that course of action. I take on board your remarks about the SoGA. I have been careful to be accurate and never less than honest.

Hello again Graham,

I see things have moved on, But I'm not clear what you said to the dealer in your letter. I'm not asking for a copy as that would break forum rules.

Are you approaching this with the view to have it managed under the Manufactures Warranty or are you now trying to resolve it under SoGA?

The reason is important, If you are trying to use the manufacturers warranty route, then you are bound by the manufacturers decision on what they're prepared to do. and the dealer will tow the line.

But if you are approaching it from your rights Under SoGA, then your claim is against the seller not the manufacture, and this changes who is responsible for making decisions.

Under SoGA your contract exists between you and the seller (usually the dealer and may be a finance house) The decision to replace or repair has to be made and justified by the seller. The manufacture does not have any right to take the decision on behalf of the seller, nor can they dictate a response as they have no legal interest in the contract of sale you have with the seller.

It may seem strange but in a SoGA or a CRA action, the Seller is the contractor, and the manufacture may be consulted on the basis of them being a subcontractor to the seller.

I'm not sure if this changes anything for you.
 
Jul 18, 2017
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I'm following this thread with great interest,as I too have exactly the same model/year as Grahamh.Mine too is cracked in top rear corner (I believe that elddis remedy this by "rounding off"the corners of the wood batern under the panel) and have a 4" crack in front panel starting at awning rail.
As previously mentioned,I have no warranty.There are always mentions on here of rights and the like,but your latest reply(prof) is exactly why more people don't do it,unless you are a solicitor or are know your rights like the back of your hand it's just not worth it in time and money to resolve the problem.
Me,my van is going into my local car body shop tomorrow for plastic welding/filling and painting.1mile from me,£150 collect next day.
How much time and effort would it take me to take van back to dealer 40 miles away after 2 and a bit years and argue the toss over it?just not worth it personally.
 
Mar 14, 2005
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Brasso530 said:
....
How much time and effort would it take me to take van back to dealer 40 miles away after 2 and a bit years and argue the toss over it?just not worth it personally.

One of the criteria of both the SoGA & CRA, is the customer should be inconvenienced as little as possible, and the seller is liable for all return and delivery costs. And it's because customers don't use their legal rights that sellers have become accustomed to getting away with such shoddy practices. Agreed it's not going to be easy for some, but far too few customers know their legal rights, and far too many sellers decide to take advantage of the general publics ignorance.
 
Jul 18, 2017
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Don't get me wrong,you are totally correct in what you're saying,but in reality things are a little different.
Let's say I ring up said dealer,Hi you sold me a van a couple of years ago,couple of faults have occurred,please can you arrange collection at my convenience,fix it for free and return it,under SoGA &CRA you have to.
I would expect them to say go sing for it,to which I would have to get a solicitor and sort it myself.
 
May 7, 2012
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Brasso530 said:
Don't get me wrong,you are totally correct in what you're saying,but in reality things are a little different.
Let's say I ring up said dealer,Hi you sold me a van a couple of years ago,couple of faults have occurred,please can you arrange collection at my convenience,fix it for free and return it,under SoGA &CRA you have to.
I would expect them to say go sing for it,to which I would have to get a solicitor and sort it myself.

You are correct and this is a point I did make. What do you do if the manufacturer and dealer will not replace. You then have no option but to take it to the small claims court after establishing the cost of replacement.
The small claims procedure is very easy for you, you can download the forms off the net and they are straightforward. The cost to you is modest and you pursue the dealer as your contract is with them but you could add a claim under the guarantee against the manufacturer if you have followed the requirements.
If as is usual the dealer is a limited company or partnership they need a solicitor. Even one fairly low down in the office is likely to cost at least £200 an hour and the solicitor will then suggest a third party notice to bring in the manufacturer who will also need a solicitor and could be liable for your costs and the dealers if they lose.
You will see at that point the cost to the manufacturer of trying to defend the claim is far more than just settling. At worst they will have to try and compromise just to avoid the expense unless they are really determined to make a stand but the risk is if that goes wrong it will open the floodgates.
Frankly if they see you are determined to pursue it I suspect they will have to give in at some point. Taking it to court means you can add in other costs and claim interest at 8% making it even more likely they will settle.
 
Nov 11, 2009
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Raywood is right using the Small Claims Court is a very simple process. Trials have been ongoing to make it totally online for claims up to £10000 and they have been so successful that the plan is to roll them out nationwide. I’ve ever only had to go to the SCC once and won my case. But I have used the UK consumer legislation on a number of occasions solely by sending the Seller a formal letter setting out my rights and expectations and asking for a formal response within a given timescale. I then indicate that in the absence of a response or satisfactory proposals I will take action via the SCC process.
But you do need to be clear on what your grievance is and whether it comes under UK consumer law.
 

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