Dodgy car-dealers, a worry

11/02/2019 10:15

The Consumer Council of Fiji is extremely concerned that consumers continue to be cheated and misled by unscrupulous car dealers around the country.

 The number of new and used car dealers has undoubtedly increased, and so has the number of consumer complaints pertaining to poor purchase deals registered with the Council.

 The latest cases have been recorded against Chiba Motors (Pte) Ltd who have become notorious for receiving deposits from customers but not delivering vehicles.

 Consumers are constantly being ripped off and misinformed about the vehicles they intend to purchase. Consumers have also complained of being victim of false promises by the trader. A total of $16,200 in complaints have been received against the trader between August and December, 2018.

 In one case, a complainant paid Chiba Motors (Pte) Ltd a sum of $9000 for a minibus on 9 October, 2018 with the balance to be paid upon delivery of the vehicle. It has been almost four months and the complainant has still not received the vehicle despite repeated assurances from the trader.

 Another complainant paid $2200 for a Toyota Prius in October last year but has yet to receive any confirmation on delivery of this vehicle. A separate customer paid $3000 in December last year and is still waiting for the same trader to register his vehicle.

 It has been months now and no feedback has been given. Another disappointed customer paid $1,000 deposit to the same dealer for a car, however he is still waiting till date.

 One of the notable complaints was lodged during the Hibiscus Festival in August last year. The complainant was told the vehicle would be ready for collection in two weeks’ time. However the vehicle was never delivered and the trader began ignoring all calls.

 The Council had conducted a mediation with Chiba Motors (Pte) Ltd where it was agreed that complainants would be refunded accordingly. Unfortunately, all complainants have still not been reimbursed to date.

  Such unethical behaviour contradicts the Fijian Competition and Consumer Commission Act 2010 under Section 88 (1) (a) (b)

A person shall not, in trade or commerce, accept payment or other consideration for goods or services where, at the time of the acceptance (a) the person intends (i) not to supply the goods or services; or (ii) to supply goods or services materially different from the goods and services in respect of which the payment or their consideration is accepted (b) there are reasonable grounds, of which the person is aware, or ought reasonably  to be aware, for believing  that the person will not be able to supply the goods and services  within the period the period specified by the person or, if no period  is specified, within a reasonable time.

 The Act further states that a person who contravenes this section is guilty of an offence and is punishable by law.

 Despite this law, consumers continue to be cheated and misled by car dealers such as Chiba Motors.  Consumers are strongly advised to do necessary checks about the car dealer before signing the sales agreement or making down payments. Consumers may contact the Council for necessary advice before purchasing a vehicle.

 Consumers are encouraged to contact the Consumer Council of Fiji on toll-free National Consumer Helpline number 155 should they need advice or wish to lodge a complaint.