Friday 27 March 2009

The Voice - Dear Consumer's Voice

Dear Consumer’s Voice

I went to Gaborone Autoworld looking for a brand new Isuzu KB300 automatic. They quoted me P250,868 and gave me an invoice which stated that the delivery time was 2 weeks.

I applied for a bank loan and the bank approved P120,868. GA said they would place an order immediately if I paid the difference as a deposit, which I made by bank certified cheque for P130,000.

Three weeks later there was still no car and no word from GA. I went to inquire and was told the car would only come in the 1st week of March.

I was then told that the price had gone up by 7%. I found the accountant and complained I was losing a lot of money in interest while my money sat in their account. He emailed me an acknowledgement and the new price claiming he had taken into account the 2 months interest.

A few days later they called me to say they had made a refund check for P130,000, which I was to collect because they were no longer providing the car.

Where do I stand as a consumer? Please help.

This is very unfortunate. They let you down and you deserve better. However what matters most is any contract you might have signed. Check to see whether it says anything about price fluctuations or whether it guarantees you a vehicle at the price you agreed. Don’t be too optimistic, it almost certainly doesn’t offer you any protection.

However, you can understand why they would have cancelled your purchase if they could no longer afford to sell you the vehicle. If the price they were paying to buy the car went up so that it was very close to, or even exceeded the P250,868 they had agreed with you they wouldn’t have made any money from the sale.

I don’t have much hope that you’ll get your lost interest back. Yes, I understand that you could have earned a small amount of interest if you had kept your money in the bank but I suspect you would have great difficulty in getting them to pay you anything.

I think you might have more luck in getting any bank fees back from them. If you incurred any costs in getting the bank loan or the bank guaranteed cheque you might be entitled to claim back from them. It’s worth writing them a stern letter discussing their breach of contract and their failure to keep you updated.

Meanwhile I suggest that you examine any agreements you had with them and see what it says. Please feel free to fax a copy to us and we’ll take a look as well.

Advice on buying new cars

We’ve said this all before but here are some of the key tips when looking for a new car. Check our web site for the full tips.

Don’t believe the advertisements

Remember that adverts aren’t there to provide facts, they are there to persuade you to buy a product. So don’t believe all you see. Of course the law prevents them from actually lying but they WILL manipulate your feelings and expectations. While writing this article I leafed through a glossy magazine and found two full-page advertisements for smart cars. Each showed a top of the range model but the price displayed was in fact for a much lower specification model. Of course the small print explained this but by that stage you are committed to the higher price one and you’re going to be disappointed when you get to the showroom and see what the lower price will buy you.

Take your time

Don’t rush. Before you first set foot in a car showroom recognise that this is going to take a few weeks. Be firm and do not allow yourself to buy impulsively.

Get competitive quotes

We live in a small community. We don’t have several BMW, Volvo, Toyota and Peugeot distributors so you can’t get them to bid competitively for the same model. However you CAN get BMW to quote you for a 3 series against a Peugeot 4 series. You can get Toyota to compete to sell you a Landcruiser Prado against a Volvo XC90. Make them fight for your business. Tell them what the others are offering and see what they can offer you.

Get sensible financing

Very few of us can afford to buy a new car for cash. Most of us need a car loan. DO NOT automatically get a loan from the company who is selling you the car. Shop around. Get the various lenders to bid competitively. Get a quote from your bank and then show it to a second bank. Take the second bid and show it to the first bank AND a third bank. Keep going until one of them gives you a very good deal.

Walk away

There is nothing that terrifies a salesman in a car showroom more than a customer who is walking away. Tell them what you want and if they offer anything different then walk out. If they let you get through the door then they weren’t for you anyway. Chances are they’ll stop you leaving with a better offer.

Be patient

Don’t rush. They’ll tempt you with offers that “are only valid today”. Call their bluff. Walk away and see if the deal is extended until tomorrow or the end of the week.

No comments: