Customers' bumpy rides

ROUGH RIDE: Unhappy buyer Monica Pitso
ROUGH RIDE: Unhappy buyer Monica Pitso

Second-hand car dealers have a way of getting rid of defective cars to the detriment of consumers.

Car buyers have approached Consumer Line for help with poor after-sales service, defective cars, dealers' failure to provide documents and retailers who give discounts for future repairs to circumvent the provisions of the Consumer Protection Act.

There have also been complaints of dealers who have told buyers of second-hand cars not to complain if anything goes wrong with their vehicles because they knew they were not buying a brand-new car.

For example, Sello Pedro Moselakgomo of Alexandra township in Gauteng paid the full purchase amount of R33,000 for a Toyota Corolla he bought from S&J Motor Garage in Langlaagte, Johannesburg.

But he has no papers to prove ownership.

Moselakgomo's other concern is that police may impound the vehicle because he does not have ownership papers.

He has not been able to renew his car's licence and is scared to drive it because he does not want to collect traffic fines.

Moselakgomo says he was denied his right to cancel the contract.

Monica Pitso, from Soweto, said she bought a Chery vehicle which had defective brakes.

She purchased the second-hand car from Chery Choice Amalgamated Automobile Retail Group in February for R105,000.

She did test drive the vehicle over a short distance before making the purchase, she said.

"It was when I drove the car home that I realised it had a squeaky sound coming from the front part," Pitso said.

On complaining, she said the dealer only checked and fixed the nuts on the front wheel and assured her that the problem was fixed.

When driving the car home, she noticed the brakes were soft every time she came to a stop.

"The vehicle would come to an immediate halt and switch off. This car just puts me in panic mode every time I have to go somewhere," she said.

She tried to cancel the contract, but the dealer would not release her from it.

"I am not happy with the service I got and do not want to do business [with] these people anymore.

"Please help me get the money back so that I can find another car," Pitso pleaded.

The dealer principal, Jim Stracham, has offered a warranty on the brakes for a period of one year or 15,000km. He also offered to repair the car if the need arose.

Pitso's vehicle warranty only became effective after Consumer Line's intervention.

Bongane Mathonsi from Daveyton also has levelled a complaint against his car dealer, Market Car Sales, for selling him a defective Mercedes-Benz earlier this year.

The dealer in turn has accused Mathonsi of causing the defects - contrary to an AA report which states otherwise.

Mathonsi said what worsened his situation was that the dealer took the vehicle and promised him that it would be fixed. But he said the car was dumped in the care of a mechanic who demanded storage fees instead of fixing the fault.

Market Car Sales' Fernando Capao said they found the car had a revving and backfiring problem . But the overall problem seemed to be electrical and they could not work on it.

He said a later diagnosis showed the problem was caused by water damage to the computer box, because of a valet and Foxguard alarm system Mathonsi had fitted to the car.

Mathonsi, too, was not allowed to cancel the contract.