Used trucks: know the risks

18 January 2013

Two recent rogue trading horror stories have highlighted the dangers of buying secondhand fork lift trucks online… and the absolute need to make sure any fork lift you buy has a current Report of Thorough Examination.

The truck pictured here, which was bought from an online trader at a ‘bargain’ price, proved to be unfit for purpose. Aside from some very obvious physical defects, it also struggled to start from cold and clearly had not received a service for some time.

Seeking to return the truck and recover his deposit, which amounted to half of the asking price, the new owner was told by the dealer that only an eighth of it would be refundable. The rest would be used to pay for transport and labour costs relating to a mast swap he had requested.

The customer’s local Trading Standards department advised him to contact CFTS (Consolidated Fork Truck Services) for advice.  A CFTS inspection revealed a catalogue of serious faults.

The truck would certainly have failed the legally obligatory Thorough Examination and – as you will probably have guessed – was sold without a Report of Thorough Examination.

In another case, reported by the Fork Lift Truck Association, a truck condemned and sent off for scrap by an FLTA member was subsequently resurrected by an online trader and sold as ‘refurbished’ and in ‘as new condition’.  Needless to say, it soon stopped working.

Again, the truck was sold without a valid Report of Thorough Examination or a warranty.

“Ask yourself whether you would buy a secondhand car without a current MOT,” says CFTS Chairman Richard Hayes.  “There is no guarantee that any car will continue to run perfectly, but an MOT gives at least some assurance of its condition.  The same can be said, but even more so, for a fork lift truck and its Report of Thorough Examination.

“Buying online requires special caution.  Do you know anything about the company and its reputation?  Does it belong to a trade association with a strict code of practice?  Will the truck be supplied with a warranty and a valid Report of Thorough Examination?

“In fact, insisting on a current Report of Thorough Examination is not just a sensible precaution – it’s a legal obligation.  Whenever you take possession of a fork lift truck, or receive one under any kind of lease, hire or loan arrangement, you are responsible for ensuring that it has this vital document.  My advice would be to demand a Report of Thorough Examination for the date the transaction is completed.”