No car and R13 000 poorer

A GAUTENG woman has allegedly swindled car buyers under the pretext of selling cars under a takeover agreements.

A GAUTENG woman has allegedly swindled car buyers under the pretext of selling cars under a takeover agreements.

Peter Mongatane of Khumalo Street in Katlehong, Gauteng, is crying foul. He paid R17000 for a car he never received.

He wanted a Polo but was given a Golf to drive for a month.

Mongatane claims Juanita Scholtz, who operates from her house at 15A Wildesering Street, in Esselenpark, told him she was an agent for numerous banks that help facilitate instalment takeover agreement on behalf of clients who can no longer afford to pay.

"She had a Golf for sale but I told her I wanted a VW Polo, Mongatane said.

He was told to pay a R17000 deposit for the Polo but paid R13000 with the understanding that he would pay the balance when he collected the Polo, he said.

"But before I left she offered me the Golf as a courtesy car. I was happy, thinking she valued my business," Mongatane said.

He has no receipt or a contract to show that he paid the deposit or was buying a car.

The copy of the contract, an agreement of sale, Scholtz showed Consumer Line was in fact a lease agreement. It is written in Afrikaans and is signed by Scholtz and Russell Craig Wingrove.

The agreement says Wingrove is the lessor and Scholtz the lessee. Scholtz has not denied the dubious sale but claims Mongatane signed his rights away.

When she gave him the courtesy car Scholtz issued Mongatane with a handwritten note stating that they would change the Golf for a Polo when the balance was paid.

There is no contract to show how much the Polo costs or even how much the balance is.

Mongatane is semi-literate. He said Scholts told him he would have to pay installments of R2200 for 30 months before the Polo was transferred into his name.

A month later he was told his Polo was ready for delivery. But when he went to collect it the transfer process was not finalised and he had to come back two days later. When he did he was not allowed into their premises and a child answered the phone, Mongatane said.

"She said her parents were not in," he said

Mongatane tried to lay a criminal charge against Scholtz but the police told him it was a civil matter.

Scholtz told Consumer Line that Mongatane signed a contract with a forfeiture clause, meaning if he failed to pay a rental fee of R2200 he would lo se the deposit he had made. She said the contract entitled her to withhold the deposit.

She denied this was a scam and referred Consumer Line to her advocate, though she refused to give us the lawyer's details and hung up.

The commercial crime unit has advised Mongatane to approach them for help.

Know your rights:

lIt is important that you think through your purchase decision and understand what your obligations and rights are. Do your homework and be an educated consumer.

lDetermine the type of vehicle you want, need and can afford. How will the vehicle be used?

lWhat optional equipment do you need? Shop around. In addition to the price of the vehicle, consider the cost of insurance, maintenance expenses, financing and so on.

lGet all the facts you need to make a good decision.

lConsider how you are going to pay for the vehicle. Cash, loan, amount of down payment.

lShop for the financing, just as you shop for the car. Compare all the terms of financing, not just the monthly payments. Pay attention to the interest rate, number of months, down payment, amount of finance charge and total price.

lFor now there is no automatic right to cancel a vehicle purchase within three days.

lSecond-hand vehicles are sold "as is" but the AA or a qualified mechanic can thoroughly inspect the vehicle before you buy;

lDealers must post a buyer's guide on all used vehicles. This window sticker will tell you if the vehicle is being sold "as is" or with a warranty and the terms of that warranty.

It will also indicate if a service contract is available for the vehicle and whether or not there is an extra charge for that contract.

lThere are various publications that quote relative values for used vehicles. These so-called "book" prices can be used as guidelines for pricing. But many factors, including mileage, condition, equipment, and age affect the price of a specific vehicle;

lGet everything in writing. All promises must be in writing to avoid misunderstanding the contract that you sign.

If repairs or accessories are promised, specify a date of completion and make sure you have it written in the contract.

lRead and understand all the terms of the contract before signing.

Do not sign anything that has not been filled out completely. Get a copy of everything you sign when you sign it;

lRead each section of the "Disclosures As Part of a Motor Vehicle Sales Contract" form before signing.

lThe bottom-line price after trading is the important figure.

lNegotiate your deal with and without your trade-in. Consider selling your old car yourself;

lNew vehicles are covered by the manufacturer's warranty. Make sure you receive a copy.

You are responsible for the maintenance to keep the coverage in effect.

lExtended service contracts are usually available for purchase.

lIf you make a deposit on a vehicle and want it to be refundable, make sure that this is written into the sales contract or purchase option that you sign.

lLease or buy? Leasing is comparable to renting. You are paying for the use of the vehicle, but you do not build any equity (ownership). Again, do your homework well to determine which is best for you.

lMake sure you are a wise consumer and don't become a victim of a scam.