Saturday, 20 August 2022

The Voce - Consumer's Voice

Where's my car?

Hello Richard. On June 15 I paid P68,000 to a South African car dealer through their agent in Botswana. I wanted a Nissan Dualis which they promised to deliver that same week. On the day when I was expecting to receive the car (20 June), they informed me that the truck that was carrying the cars to Botswana had a slight accident and unfortunately my car got damaged (they sent me photos of the damaged car). I then told then that I cannot take a car that has had an accident, so they promised that they will sort me out with another Dualis soon.

Days and weeks passed without any communication from them, unless if I am the one who questions on the progress. I am still waiting even now, and they are taking me from pillar to post. Every day is a new story. I have asked them for a refund since they cannot give me a new car, and still they are not helping.

None of them, the car dealer and the carrier company, wants to take responsibility. Please help.

I'm sure there are some honest people in the car import business but sometimes it's hard to find them.

I understand that when importing cars there are occasional accidents like the one that happened to your car. I also understand that in a situation like this, it's the job of the importer to find you're a new vehicle. So far, so good.

But something doesn't add up. If it only took 5 days last time, from the 15th to the 20th of June to ship your vehicle why is it taking so long this time? Why has it been two months? Perhaps they don't have the right vehicle available? If that's the case why can't they just tell you and let you decide what to do? Whatever the reason, I think it's time for a refund.

I suggest you contact them and give them a deadline. Tell them that if they don't refund you within a week you'll take legal action against them to recover your money. Tell them you'll also be contacting the Competition and Consumer Authority, Consumer Watchdog and The Voice. Between us we should have enough muscle.

Another second-hand car disaster

I bought a BMW X1 from a dealer in Mogoditshane on the 20th June. On the 31st July I experienced an engine problem and contacted the owner of the garage the next day only to be told that the warranty was only 7 days and that I had signed to agree with that since it's written on the receipt. I was never told about the 7 days before then.

Their salesman gave me the car with a dead left headlamp and promised to fit it but never did it and I had to pay someone P600 to fit it. I also had to buy myself the back wiper for P150 since they did not put it on. Also a pipe from the water tank started leaking and I had it replaced for another P600. On the 31st July while on a trip the car slowed itself down near Mahalapye and we stopped to observe what was the problem and there was some loud noise coming from the engine. We had a towing company transport the car on a truck to Mahalapye since it was the nearest place of safety. I paid P850 for the service.

Please help me get assistance.

Buying a second-hand car is an incredibly risky business. We've had hundreds of complaints over the years that were all very similar to yours and the challenge is always the same. Most second-hand car dealers offer almost no warranty on the cars they sell and customers often only discover this when they get a receipt, after having paid a huge amount of money. We could argue that explaining this after the consumer has paid isn't legal but that would be a job for attorneys.

The lesson is simple. Be VERY careful when buying a second-hand car. You should ALWAYS get a mechanic to inspect any car you're thinking of buying. Most of us have a friend or relative who knows more about cars that we do. Ask them to take a look. If you don't have someone, go to the garage that serviced your last car and ask if one of the mechanics wants to earn something extra. I promise you it will be worth a few hundred Pula or a crate of beer to get their expert advice. It might save you a fortune in the long run.

Also, get the dealer to put something in writing about the state of the car you're buying. Insist that they identify all the known problems before you hand over your money. If they refuse, ask yourself what they're hiding because they certainly can't be trusted with your money.

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