BE CAREFUL when you buy motor vehicles at some dealerships in Gezina in Pretoria. Some second-hand car dealers in this area have been accused of unlawfully withholding deposits after unilaterally cancelling deals.

BE CAREFUL when you buy motor vehicles at some dealerships in Gezina in Pretoria. Some second-hand car dealers in this area have been accused of unlawfully withholding deposits after unilaterally cancelling deals.

The complainants allege that they were told to pay holding deposits for the vehicles, but their cars were sold to other buyers and they were later told that they had forfeited their refunds.

No refunds were made and they were told they should buy other vehicles or forfeit their deposits.

Some people claimed that they were tricked into bringing the cars back to the dealerships under the pretext that they needed servicing, but the intention was to repossess the cars.

A case in point is that of Philemon Tshabalala of Meadowlands Zone 5, Soweto.

Tshabalala received a severance package in September 2009. He did the right thing and paid off his bond. Then he decided to buy a car.

Tshabalala said he went to Corporate Motors in Gezina to buy his dream car - a Mercedes-Benz that was being sold for R129000.

He paid cash for the car and drove it home in October 2009 with the understanding that the dealership would transfer the car into his name and give him the registration papers later.

To this day Tshabalala has not received the ownership documents from Corporate Motors, he said.

In November 2009 he experienced a mechanical problem with the car and Corporate Motors advised him to contact the previous owner so that they could go to Mercedes-Benz in Pretoria where the car was previously serviced.

Mercedes-Benz could not help them on the day they went there and suggested that Tshabalala leave s the car with them. They arranged transport for him back to Soweto.

Tshabalala said that the car was not repaired as promised, but returned to its previous owner, who later told Tshabalala that he only took what belonged to him.

"Simply put, it was a trick to get me to take the car to Mercedes Pretoria so that the previous owner could take his car back," Tshabalala said.

Tshabalala is now without a car and cannot recover his R129000 from Corporate Motors because they have closed down and left without leaving a forwarding address.

But Dan Makubela has been lucky.

Consumer Line was able to recover the R10000 deposit he paid to One Way Auto, which operates from Gezina on Zambezi Road.

Makubela said he wanted to buy a vehicle for his wife to take their children to and from school.

He said he and his wife went to One Way Auto and found a Toyota Corolla 1,6, which they liked and wanted to pay cash for.

The car cost R69000, but the dealer offered to sell it to them for less if they paid a deposit of R2000 immediately, Makubela said.

They did not have the money on them and agreed to pay it a day later.

Makubela paid a holding deposit of R10000 into the dealer's bank account and promised to pay the balance within 10 days.

When confirming payment he said he was told to hand deliver his deposit slip. When he got to the garage he was persuaded to take another car, which was being repaired.

The Toyota Corolla 1,8i they were offering cost R70000, he said.

"I rejected it and told them to keep the 1,6i that I initially chose. They did not," Makubela said.

On March 25 this year he called them to make an appointment to finalise payment. They told him the car had been sold and the 1,8i Corolla had been reserved for him.

"This was contrary to our agreement, so I cancelled the contract, not knowing I would be prevented from doing so," Makubela said.

He was told he would forfeit the deposit if he did not take the car they were offering him . He said they forced him to buy a car he did not want and could not afford.

"It was only then that their salesman, Kevin, told me the word refund did not exist in their business," Makubela said.

There was no written contract and he was not given the terms and conditions of the sale by this dealership, he said.

Makubela was refunded his deposit an hour after Consumer line stepped in.

"I would like to thank you for the prompt response regarding my problem with One Way Auto.

"I checked my account and they had deposited R10000 today (last Wednesday). This was shortly after you called them. Thanks a million and keep up the good work," Makubela wrote.

Maditshepe Motaung is also battling to recover her R5000 from Alro Executive Garage for a vehicle she wanted to buy.

Alro Executive Garage is situated in Gezina on Voortrekker Road.

Motaung said the dealership had accused her of giving them a fraudulent identity document, which was not true.

"They gave me seven days to sort out the ID issue before they would sell me the car. While I was busy trying to find out how my ID could be fraudulent, they sold the car," she said.

When she enquired about the car, Motaung said, she was told that she would be given a refund. But nothing has happened since January.

"Theo, the salesman, now tells me that her boss is refusing to pay out. Does this mean I have lost my R5000 and if so, why? I have not done anything wrong," a puzzled Motaung said.