Second Hand Vehicles

28/03/2008 15:01

The Second Hand Car Dealers (SHCD) should realise that the fortunes made at the expense of the consumers are over. We had seen proliferation of second hand car dealers doing business from their residential areas in the midst of no where. It happened because of the laxity in the system as well as no regard to consumer frustration. Now the rules have change, which is hurting the SHCD.

The Council received a large number of complaints and we speak from data. In 2006, we received 97 complaints whereas in 2007 we received 69 complaints in the first six months. However, in 2008 we received three complaints. We do not know how many consumers decided not to pursue the matter through the court system due to high legal fees. Some dealers were so conniving that they took bond money exceeding $2000 in 2006 so that the case could not be referred to the Small Claims Tribunal.

The nature of these complaints include the breakdown of vehicles soon after it’s purchase, warranty provision of vehicle parts that is not properly communicated to the buyer, improper and cheap mechanical work, the unavailability of certain spare parts, and different size engine fitted in the vehicle from the one written on the wheel tax. Some dealers use dirty tactics to generate profits. Consumers have also complained of vehicle parts being changed during the deal without the buyer’s knowledge or even forced to buy a vehicle which is not of their choice because the dealer refused to return the bond to gullible, not so well educated consumers.   

The Council has been concerned for a long time with some second hand car dealers ripping off consumers by selling vehicles of inferior quality that are disguised with a few cosmetic changes such as spray painting and altering the mileage reading so that it shows a lower figure than has actually been covered. Unfortunately, the consumers are attracted by the appearance of the vehicle rather than the durability. The Council reiterates that the durability of some of these vehicles is questionable, as consumers end up spending more on the cost of repairs that what they had to pay for initially. Some of these vehicles are so old that it requires continuous repairs and non- availability of parts do not help. Some dealers took more than 6 months to get the parts of the vehicle where consumers had to pay the loan to the bank.  The consumers have gone out of their pockets and it is a nightmare for them. The Council will not speak without evidence. Some of these vehicles entering the country are only fit for scrap purposes but unfortunately, these were sold to the consumers.

The Council had taken some steps to curb the problem. First, the Council wrote to LTA requesting them to withdraw the licence of some unscrupulous second hand car dealers and put a plug on their business due to unethical practices. We have also forwarded cases to FICAC for investigation. On the other hand, LTA introduced JEVIC inspection as a preventative measure to the import and sale of faulty used vehicles in the country. To promote accountability and transparency within second hand car dealers, the Department of Fair Trading and Consumer Affairs is proposing to introduce mandatory information standard for second hand motor vehicles to protect consumers and to ensure the market operates fairly.  The question is why these measures are being taken if all is well with the second hand cars. There are few unscrupulous dealers and SHCD should be taking these dealers to task to improve their image.

Who is SHCD to ask for my resignation? It seems they want someone who can serve SHCD interest but unfortunately, the Council is there for consumers. We are the “ears and eyes” of the consumers. We will continue to serve our consumers diligently without any fear.