A Malmesbury car trader fined for misleading customers by failing to include a mandatory fee in the price of vehicles advertised for sale, has defended himself and claimed that the court case against him was based on a single complaint.

Wiltshire Trading Standards has reported that on Thursday at Salisbury Magistrates Court, Hyams Autos Ltd of High Street, Malmesbury, and company director Paul Hyams were found guilty of fraud and of misleading consumers by failing to include a £99 non-optional fee in the price of vehicles advertised for sale online.

The trading standards office stated: “A customer who visited the Malmesbury showroom on 7th April 2019, was not made aware of this extra £99 cost until they had test driven a vehicle and decided to buy it.”

In total, the company and Mr Hyams were fined a total of £5,980 which included £4,000 costs awarded to Wiltshire Council.

In response, Mr Hyams said in a statement: “Paul Hyams and Hyams Autos have been found guilty of misleading advertising and fraud, specifically in relation to charging £99 administration fees during 2019.

"Whilst Hyams Autos accepts the court’s ruling, the regulations regarding administration fees are very unclear.

“We have not deliberately misled anyone and everyone who paid the administration fee was aware of the fees before the cars were sold and agreed to make the payment.

“The prosecution was based on a single complaint where the individual concerned decided not to go ahead with the purchase and so did not pay the fee.

“Since the matter was brought to our attention we have taken extra measure to ensure that all of our customers are fully aware of the £99 administration fee and why it is charged.

“We have been trading in Malmesbury for over 45 years and we are fortunate to have lots of loyal and happy customers. The verdict reached by the court does not reflect our business ethos or our standing in the community.”