Judge slams Renault duo
06 February 2008
Author: Rupert Saunders
A High Court judge has criticised two employees of Renault's fleet department for turning a blind eye to abuses of a discount car scheme being run for members of the British Air Line Pilots' Association.
Under the scheme, run by a third party broker, FleetPro Technical Services, orders for 217 vehicles were placed over a 10-month period, but only three of these orders came from eligible members of the scheme. The other 214 vehicles were bought at a discount to which the buyer should not have been entitled.
It transpired the sole director of FleetPro, Russell Thoms, had been running a website, Broker2Broker, that passed on the discounts to other brokers who resold the cars to members of the public.
The case highlights the role of brokers in reselling discounted cars without manufacturers or their dealers knowing the end-user.
Renault sued FleetPro and Thoms, claiming losses of almost £700,000, but lost the case because the judge decided it had made a profit from the cars, despite the fraud. He also criticised two Renault fleet sales employees, Miss Sample and Mr Wilson, who did not question the unusually large number of orders from BALPA. In contrast, a similar scheme with Microsoft produced only five sales in three years.
In a High Court judgement, Judge Richard Seymour QC, declared: "The only proper conclusion.is that Miss Sample and Mr Wilson did indeed either understand perfectly well how the sales by FleetPro were being achieved or each closed his or her eyes to what, if they had thought about it for a moment, was blindingly obvious."
BusinessCar asked Renault whether it had since tightened controls on affinity schemes but the company was unable to provide a direct answer. In a written statement, it told us: "In relation to affinity schemes, Renault UK does not deal with agents. We only deal directly or through a recognised channel." But it said it did "allow dealers to sell to intermediaries with a confirmed order from the end customer".