Friday 21 March 2008

The Voice - Dear Consumer's Voice

Dear Consumer’s Voice

My girlfriend and I recently bought a second hand car from a dealer in Mogoditshane for P23,000. We paid a deposit and the next day we went with a bank guaranteed cheque for the balance. However as we drove it back home from the dealer it broke down. We phoned the dealer and he said we should get the car towed back to him. We phoned the bank and cancelled the cheque before it could be cashed so we only lost the deposit and we had to pay for towing the car.

Do you think we can get the deposit and towing charge back from the dealer?

This is really unacceptable. Everyone understands that when you buy something second-hand it’s not going to be perfect. In particular a car worth P23,000 is going to be old and will have developed a bit of wear and tear, everyone expects that. However a second car that can’t even make it home from the dealer is a bit too much to swallow.

Many dealers will state when they sell you a second-hand car that you are buying it “voetstoots” which means “as is”. The idea is that you are buying something just as you see it and that no guarantees are being made about how merchantable the thing is. However I don’t believe that this exempts a dealer from all responsibilities. If you could prove that he knew that the car had known defects you might have an opportunity to sue him for compensation but that would probably cost you money and would take ages. When the new Small Claims Court the government is introducing is working it could be useful but that’s not here yet.

In the meantime congratulations for thinking quickly and cancelling the cheque. At least you got most of the money back.

Probably the best you can do is to ask them whether they want a team from The Voice coming over to interview them with a photographer. Do they want to make front-page news?

Or would they rather just pay you back your deposit?

Oh and don’t forget to tell everyone you know not to buy from that dealer.

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