A CAR trader that closed down suddenly leaving angry customers demanding refunds has been tracked down to another site having opened under a new name.
After an investigation by the Daily Echo, angry customers yesterday confronted staff at Fort Wallington Car Sales about their faulty vehicles and bounced refund cheques.
With Daily Echo journalists on hand, they wrested a promise from owner Stan Rudgley (above right) that monies would be repaid.
The dramatic scenes came as trading standards officers investigate dozens of complaints about the firm.
Woolston Car Supermarket in Southampton shut suddenly last week without contacting customers or providing a forwarding address.
The company had been inundated with complaints by customers attempting to claim back hundreds of pounds in compensation. One motorist even recorded the confrontation with the firm’s management where threats can be heard being made to him.
Eventually complainants were given refund cheques, but these bounced.
And when customers returned to the showroom they discovered the company had vanished along with some of their cars left for repairs.
When the Daily Echo visited the site in Hazel Road in Woolston it was deserted with complaint letters strewn around outside.
The company had in fact moved 12 miles away to set up shop in Fareham under the new name of Fort Wallington Car Sales.
Yesterday, when confronted by angry customers, owner Mr Rudgley blamed problems on colleagues who, he said, no longer worked with him.
The Daily Echo can reveal that Richard David John Burbage who was connected with Woolston Car Supermarket owes more than eleven million Australian dollars to hundreds of people after his online dealership collapsed Down Under.
The 40-year-old (above) jetted back to his native UK after the demise of his firm, We Buy Any Car, which copied the name of the successful British online car seller but has no connection to that firm.
Mr Burbage has since been banned from being a director in Australia for ten years and hundreds of people are eager to speak to him about the money they are owed.
This newspaper has linked Mr Burbage to Woolston Car Supermarket and other companies located on the same site.
Footage obtained by the Daily Echo clearly shows Mr Burbage behind a desk next to the man officially registered as director Stan Rudgley. Both are shown shouting and threatening a customer wanting a refund.
Yesterday Mr Rudgley admitted there had been problems with his previous dealership but said he hoped to start again at his site in Fareham.
He said: “I am trying to run my business straight and not how it was run in Woolston by managers and sales staff.
“I’m now committed here to running things one hundred per cent straight down the line.”
He also claimed to have “severed ties” last week with Mr Burbage when Woolston Car Supermarket closed after falling out with him but declined to elaborate.
In a bizarre scene, one furious customer, 24-year-old Mike Wiley (above), demanded the return of his part-exchanged Volvo, only to be told by Mr Rudgley it was worth only £298 at auction.
But Mr Wiley then pointed out that his Volvo was in fact there for sale in the showroom for £1,695. Mr Rudgley promised to return the vehicle to him the next day after it had been valeted.
Another customer was promised a full refund after telling how the car he had bought for his heavily-pregnant wife had been found to have a fault which could cause the bonnet to fly up when being driven at just 30mph.
A courtesy car given to the expectant mum was also in such a bad state she was pulled over by the police.
Mr Rudgley vowed to pay back money owed by the end of next week, claiming he did not have enough money in his bank at present.
A spokesman for Southampton City Council Trading Standards office confirmed they were investigating more than 20 complaints against Woolston Car Supermarkets.
The Daily Echo attempted to speak to Mr Burbage but were unable to contact him. No one was at home at an address given by Mr Burbage during a recent court hearing for a driving offence and a neighbour told the paper she did not believe Mr Burbage lived there at present.
His former colleague Mr Rudgley was unable to assist with contact details.
Who is Richard Burbage? Click here.
Furious customers complain of faulty cars and bouncing cheques. Click here.