Category: Factual & Arts TV
An investigation by the BBC into Britain's leading car finance company, Yes Car Credit, has uncovered an operation where customers are lied to, inspections on cars are not properly carried out, and some potentially dangerous cars are sold with serious faults.
The programme meets a Yes Car customer who has been in a serious accident due to a fault with his car.
Yes Car Credit is the biggest individual seller of used cars in the UK, and has branches across the UK.
Whistleblower, which will be broadcast on BBC ONE at 9.00pm on Wednesday 16 March - the day that Provident Financial, which owns Yes Car Credit, announces their annual results - shows:
A Yes Car Credit Chief Technician admitting that he leaves: "Professionalism at the door", knowing that he does not have the authorisation, money or tools to thoroughly carry out the 125 point inspection on the second hand cars. While another mechanic who refers to 125 checklist, saying: "Yeah I just tick anything mate, f*** it, I don't care."
A Yes Car Credit Whistleblower tells the programme: "What we do is wrong. We had a car recently where the steering column became detached from the car."
He adds: "... the column became detached from the steering rack. It's not right. If somebody doesn't stop them doing [this] at some point they're going to send out a car that's so dangerous that a family or somebody in a vehicle is going to get hurt."
Salespeople at Yes Car Credit openly condemn the company's cars.
Undercover reporter Richard Newman asks a salesperson: "Why did he try to write the car off?" The salesperson replies: "Because he realised the car was shit!"
While another salesperson tells the undercover reporter: "We wouldn't advise you to get a Yes Car credit car..."
A Yes Car Credit manager telling his staff not to offer a seven day exchange offer to customers or they will be sacked. The manager says - if any of the sales staff mentioned the advertised offer, "I will terminate you."
Yes Car Credit sales advisors lying to customers in the sales process with undercover reporter Richard Newman being trained with other Yes Car Credit sales advisors to pretend to consult underwriters in phone conversations with potential customers. He is told: "That's where your acting abilities come out Richard."
The programme also meets a Yes Car customer Chris Morley who has been in a serious accident due to a faulty exhaust. A broken exhaust pipe which catapulted the car nearly cost the 22-year-old his life.
He explains how he was only just able to control his car and "... get it away from two oncoming cars." The car careered down a bank and into trees.
But Morley's earlier concerns about the car were not dealt with by Yes Car Credit.
Morley said: "I called them a few days before the accident itself. And said, look there are gases escaping from the exhaust and it is starting to go. Is there any chance that we can get this repaired?"
According to Morley Yes Car told him: "Yeah, keep driving the car, keep driving it, right up till the exhaust finally goes."
Yes Car Credit sells almost 38,000 second hand cars a year and the company is now worth £140m, a figure achieved in just five years.
Whistleblower talks to several customers whose experience with different Yes Car Credit branches across the country has left them dissatisfied.
The BBC received more than 1,000 complaints from customers.
Provident Financial owns both Yes Car Credit and Provident Personal Credit.
The programme looks closely at Provident Personal Credit, raising concerns about rollover loans - and the pressure some customers face to refinance their loan and take out additional loans.
Provident Personal Credit said that their agents should never place pressure on a customer to refinance a loan or take out another loan.
And added that they will investigate thoroughly any evidence of this practice, and take any action as appropriate.
Provident Financial (which owns both Provident Personal Credit and Yes Car Credit) responded to the allegations in programme.
In a written statement it expressed concern that Yes Car employees were trained to deceive customers over credit checks and promised a full enquiry into how this practice was incorporated into their sales process.
The statement also said that encouraging staff to meet targets is normal in a sales environment but pressurising customers is unacceptable.
The company was committed to providing quality cars and any evidence of poor workmanship would be fully investigated.
They apologised for any failures in customer service but said significant changes had been introduced including the re-training of almost all sales staff.
They also said that it provides home credit of enormous social benefit to those on modest incomes with few credit choices.
It reported widespread customer satisfaction.
The company added that agents should never pressurise customers to refinance a loan and promised to thoroughly investigate any evidence of this and take appropriate action.
The company also added that they served thousands of satisfied customers every year.
Notes to Editors
If any one of the above is used please credit Whistleblower, on BBC ONE at 9.00pm on Wednesday 16 March.
Whistleblower also investigates the huge APRs (annual percentage rate) - which range from 177% to 497% - charged by Provident Personal Credit to customers on their loans.
The documentary provides a timely reminder of why Britons have found themselves in debt to the tune of £1 trillion.
Yes Car Credit has branches in: Belfast, Birmingham, Bristol, Chelmsford, Coventry, Dundee, Edinburgh, Gateshead, Glasgow, Horsham (Head office), Leeds, Liverpool, London North Enfield, London North West Alperton, London South Croydon, London South East Eltham, London South West Chertsey, Luton, Manchester, Newport, Norwich, Nottingham, Oxford, Plymouth, Portsmouth, Preston, Sheffield, Stoke, Willenhall (near Wolverhampton).