In a span of a week, two private sellers from Ontario and Alberta were charged for curbing (selling vehicles unlicensed). The first, a Calgary man, acted as a broker and ultimately stole $63,000 from a consumer. Calgary court convicted him of theft over $5,000, and AMVIC – Alberta's vehicle sales regulator – laid five charges against him for theft and for operating without a licence. In Toronto, an auto repair shop was charged for unlicensed selling and for undisclosed accident damages.
Curbers are widespread throughout Canada. These cases only caution consumers to be wary of buying privately. Someone who seems like a legitimate private seller may actually be a curber. Curbers may misrepresent the history and condition of a vehicle, and even sell stolen vehicles. Prosecution of curbers is very difficult and restitution for buyers is uncommon.
Buying from a licensed dealer and getting a vehicle history report is the best way to ensure maximum protection. BC car buyers are encouraged to buy from licensed dealers. A registry of licensed dealers and salespeople in BC can be found here.
Read more on the cases here:
Finding the right dealer is a crucial step in the car buying process. Find a dealer with these industry best practices:
· The dealer's advertising is clear and matches pricing at the dealership
· Additional dealer fees are disclosed and not a last minute surprise
· Options and extras that were promised are included in the contract
· The purchase agreement is fully completed before you're asked to sign
· All documents are explained in detail and copies are provided
· You're not encouraged to take a vehicle home if the deal is not complete
· A recent mechanical inspection report is provided for all used vehicles
· A recent vehicle history report is provided for all used vehicles
· The salespeople proudly display their VSA Salesperson Licence
Find dealers in your area through the VSA dealer registry.
It may seem harmless when a dealer takes your driver's licence prior to a test drive. Some dealers do so as a safety precaution and others use it for identification. While it is a common practice in the industry, it does create privacy issues if not done correctly.
The Office of the Privacy Commissioner recently reminded dealers that making photocopies of a driver's licence is not appropriate unless certain information is removed. Driver's licences are not universal identity cards and include more information (photo, height, weight) than is needed for most business purposes. However, dealers may request to collect your information and, as long as they're consistent with the law, it is okay.
Dealers are required to:
- Ask for your consent to collect your information
- Tell you what the information will be used for
- Collect only what is needed
- Store and secure your information properly
- Destroy your information when it is no longer needed
· "Finance arrangement" or "finance placement" fees may appear on your documents. Ask about them.
· Brokerage fees must be in the Annual Percentage Rate (APR) calculation
· The APR calculations must be disclosed before you agree to the financing
The VSA recently reminded dealers that if they attach a finance placement fee it must be disclosed and they must be clear if the fee is needed to secure financing with a bank or finance company or if it is their fee.
For the third year in a row, the VSA collaborated with the Better Business Bureau of BC (BBB) on the Top Ten Scams of the year. This year, used vehicles sold online at prices too good to be true made the list as the Top Auto Scam. A press conference was held on March 5th with the official release of the Top Ten Scams.
This past year, Canadians lost roughly $70 million to scammers – and this is just from the 5% of reported scams. With the rise of the internet and social media, scammers continue to find innovative ways to get into your pockets. The key message is that anyone can be a victim. Verifying identities, taking your time and doing research and homework are important steps to take when things seem suspicious. And, consumers are urged to report any scams they come across, no matter how small.
When buying a vehicle online, "a vehicle history report, a little online sleuthing or a purchase from a licensed dealer can be just the protection you need." A great start is to check the list of known curbers (unlicensed dealers) and to search for licensed dealers and salespeople.
If anyone is believed to be a curber, they can be reported to the VSA by completing the following form: http://www.mvsabc.com/images/pdf_files/dealer-form/ReportaCurberJanuary2011.pdf
More information on BBB's Top Ten Scams can be found on their website: http://www.bbb.org/mbc/news-centre/news-releases/2015/03/bbb-releases-its-annual-list-of-top-10-scams/
Industry Canada says it is a term used for vehicles that have a "manufacturer's defect that may affect its safety, use or value." Definitions vary, but vehicles can get labeled as lemons after several failed repair attempts.
Some provinces have laws that require dealers to declare if a vehicle is a lemon or has been branded as a lemon in another jurisdiction. Vehicles imported from the US are more likely to carry this branding, as there are lemon laws in all 50 states. There is no federal lemon law in Canada.
What are my options if I have a lemon?
The Canadian Motor Vehicle Arbitration Plan (CAMVAP) is available to settle disputes between consumers and manufacturers, even if not still owned by the original buyer. It covers nearly all vehicles purchased in Canada, but they must have been manufactured within the last four years. Resolutions vary, ranging from compensation for repairs, re-repair orders to vehicle buy backs. A buyer may also choose to seek legal action to enforce the warranty, but not both.
How can I avoid purchasing a lemon in the future?
When buying a used vehicle, get a vehicle history report and a mechanical inspection before purchasing a vehicle. For new vehicles, research the reliability of models in Consumer Reports or other sources.
If you have a problem, the dealer who provided the financing or the lease may tell you they do not have responsibility for the sale. This may not be correct. If they were acting as an agent for the other dealer or as the dealer completing the transaction, as a licensed dealer they may still have the responsibilities outlined in the Motor Dealer Act and other related regulations. Here are some tips:
- The dealer to contact with any concerns is the dealer who transferred the vehicle from their name to yours (look on the I.C.B.C. transfer document)
- This dealer had the responsibility of making the statutory declarations and selling a safe vehicle (look for which dealers name appears as seller on the purchase agreement)
- These legal obligations cannot be dismissed with a written disclaimer stating they are not responsible for the vehicle
- Errors made by the first dealer are the responsibility of the final dealer in the transaction, if they took title and transferred the vehicle to you (the first dealer may have some responsibilities depending on the facts)
- If a consumer complaint arises from the transaction, the complaint will be directed by the VSA to the dealer listed on the sale and transfer documents
Note: This does not apply to financing companies and others who merely take an assigned interest in the vehicle
Two years ago, numerous Canadian car buyers lost thousands of dollars because they fell victim to believable online scams. These scams consisted of low-priced, high-end vehicles sold on various online advertising platforms. Consumers were enticed by the great prices and shipping. What they failed to realize, however, was that these vehicles did not exist.
While the majority of these scam websites shut down due to press, they have continued to reappear under new names, such as:
- Double Eagle Motors
- Husen Original Autos
- Sprint Luxury Auto
- Ambient Auto Centre
Most recently, the websites in question are Garden City Trucks, Trucks of Kansas and Ken's Kars Florida. These "dealers" are not licensed or registered as business in their locations. And, further investigations found that their website domains have servers based overseas.
While these phantom dealerships will likely shut down, history shows that a new bogus site will eventually take their place.
Consumers are urged to do proper and thorough research before purchasing a vehicle, especially online. Buying from a licensed dealer and getting a vehicle history report is the best way to ensure maximum protection. BC car buyers are encouraged to check the list of known curbers (unlicensed dealers) and search for licensed dealers and salespeople before buying a vehicle.
As many as twelve million vehicles worldwide have been recalled due to faulty Japanese-made airbags. The Takata airbags can malfunction, sending metal fragments and injuring seat occupants upon deployment. The issue is currently being handled by Transport Canada. Unless there is evidence to suggest a particular B.C. motor dealer has somehow misrepresented these recalls to a consumer, the VSA will not be conducting its own investigation. If a vehicle is believed to be affected, please contact your dealer for more information.
All vehicles expected to be affected can be viewed here.
If it is suspected that a safety-related defect is affecting your vehicle, it can be reported to Transport Canada's Defect Investigations and Recalls Division. They will investigate consumer concerns about possible vehicle safety issues needing a recall notice.
Buyer beware isn't a rule when buying from a licensed dealer. But, a judge in Prince George found that this concept applied to a private purchase. A Vernon man claimed for damages when a recently bought van turned out to be in need of extensive repairs. The vehicle, which was purchased for $20,160 from a Burns Lake couple, ended up needing over $12,000 of extra repairs.
The judge claimed that the buyer's financial loss was his own responsibility. And since it was a private sale, the "standards set out in the Sale of Goods Act and the Business Practices and Consumer Protection Act do not apply." The private sellers did not owe the buyer "a duty of care." Licensed dealers and salespeople, on the other hand, have to follow the principal of seller beware. Consumer protection legislation shifts many responsibilities and obligations to the seller.