No car and no money

UNSCRUPULOUS dealers have no qualms about taking gullible consumers for a ride.

UNSCRUPULOUS dealers have no qualms about taking gullible consumers for a ride.

And some second-hand car dealers are among the biggest culprits.

Consumers who have bought cars from garages run by crooked dealers have lost out big time. Some have not received the vehicles that they chose, some warranties were not fulfilled while yet others were sold cars that were later impounded by the police because they had been reported stolen.

Jeremiah Mhlongo is one such victim.

Jan Lodewjks, from whom Mhlongo bought his car, did not legally transfer the vehicle because he did not have the original registration documents. They were with the original owner, Armando Vambo.

Mhlongo paid Lodewjks R32000 for the car and the deal was that he would get the registration papers when he paid the balance of R5000, but two months later he still does not have the documents. So he went to the traffic department and traced Vambo to an informal settlement in Daveyton, Ekhuruleni.

When Mhlongo, accompanied by Vambo, brought the papers to Lodewjks to finalise the registration, the dealer refused to accept the documents or to transfer the car to the new owner.

Mhlongo said Lodewjks' action has ended in him having no car and losing his money. He said the car dealer accused him of meddling in his business.

"Jan was mad at me," Mlongo said. "He accused me of interfering in his business. He told me I should have waited for him to trace Vambo and not to go looking for him myself."

Vambo said that because Lodewjks refused to pay him his sale price, he took the car from Mhlongo.

"I was chased away like a dog, and without getting my money," Vambo said.

Mhlongo is battling to get back his R32000.

At first, Lodewjks denied selling the car to Mhlongo. He also denied ejecting Mhlongo and Vambo from his dealership or even seeing them in March .

He later told Consumer Line that Mhlongo voluntarily returned the car to Vambo and that he was not to blame for the failed deal. But he could not explain why he was entitled to the full purchase price if the deal fell through.

"I will meet him in court if he thinks he has a valid complaint against me," said Lodewjks.

The Department of Trade and Industry's Consumer Affairs division, which investigates cases of consumers who have been victimised by fraudulent, abusive and predatory business practices, will investigate Mhlongo's case.

The DTI is committed to assisting consumers and is actively engaged in promoting a fair and open marketplace that forcefully protects the rights of consumers.