Cancer victim claims he was left with debt and no car by dealer
A MAN dying of cancer says he has been left with large debts and without his car thanks to a motor dealer who has apparently left Bristol.
John Thompson and his wife Tina say they took out a loan of £2,500 to buy a Chrysler Voyager people carrier from Paul Cugley, trading as Sanmax Performance Cars, of Bristol, last June.
After a few days the gearbox failed, so they took it in for repairs under its warranty. But 11 months on, and despite scores of phone calls, visits and a letter threatening legal action, the couple are still waiting for their car or their money back.
The Thompsons, of Vandyck Avenue, Keynsham, still have their receipt and the logbook proving they own the 2.2-litre seven-seater they thought would have been ideal for getting Mr Thompson and his mobility aids around.
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But Mr Cugley is proving elusive. He has no advertised business phone number and his mobile number has changed. When the Post went to speak to him at the trading estate off Memorial Road, Hanham, yesterday, the unit he used to occupy was closed and padlocked. Last night a reporter visited Mr Cugley's last known Bristol address in Longwell Green, which was deserted.
At another address a relative of Mr Cugley said he had moved with his wife and two-year-old child to his in-laws in Devon after losing his home in January.
Mr Thompson said: "I'm so angry and upset about it all. I've cried at night about it – and I'm a man of 75.
"I feel we've been cheated. It's caused a lot of stress in the family – stress you don't want when you've got cancer."
Despite being sold with an MOT, it was only a few days after buying the car that the problems started.
"Within a day or two the gear stick kept getting stuck, you couldn't get it in gear," said retired salesman Mr Thompson. "We were having problems starting it as well. When we took the car back we were told it could be fixed, no problem."
The grandfather-of-nine said he and his wife visited the garage almost every week but kept being given excuses as to why their car was not ready.
"My wife used to ring up all the time but kept being put off, given excuses and eventually they stopped answering the phone," he said.
"When I went down there once the car was raised off the ground and the wheels were off and the back seats out. Why did they do that if they were only changing a gearbox?"
The Post understands the business moved out of the Hanham premises "by mutual agreement" on January 12 after it is alleged a number of disgruntled customers made regular visits. On the internet, half a dozen people have made complaints after buying cars from Mr Cugley, who used to trade as Sanmax Performance but has also operated under his own name.
Before the business moved to Memorial Road in April last year, it was based at The Old Coach Works on Kingsfield Lane, Hanham.
Mr Thompson was diagnosed with prostate cancer about seven years ago and the disease then spread to his bones. He needs an electric buggy, wheelchair or walking sticks to get around, so needs a spacious car.
After paying Mr Cugley £2,495 for the Chrysler, the Thompsons then had to extend their bank loan by a further £2,000 to pay for a replacement car.
They complained to South Gloucestershire Council's trading standards department and, following advice from the Citizens Advice Bureau, sent a letter threatening legal action if Mr Cugley did not resolve the issue within 14 days. They received no response.
A spokesman for South Gloucestershire Council said: "We are aware of Mr and Mrs Thompson's complaint against Mr Cugley and the council's trading standards team is investigating the matter."
â Anyone who sees the blue diesel Chrysler, which has the registration number S587 EGX, should contact trading standards on 08454 040506.