Car dealer fined for FTA breaches

Con­sumer info forms not filled in

Kapi-Mana News - - NEWS -

A Porirua car dealer and his com­pany has been fined more than $30,000 af­ter plead­ing guilty to mul­ti­ple charges of breach­ing the Fair Trad­ing Act.

Surya Ku­mar was fined a to­tal of $9600 on six charges, and Sun­rise Mo­tor Group a to­tal of $19,200 on 12 charges, in Welling­ton District Court last week.

The charges re­lated to fail­ures to com­ply with Con­sumer In­for- ma­tion Stan­dards (Used Mo­tor Ve­hi­cles) Reg­u­la­tions 2008 and false claims made by Mr Ku­mar and Sun­rise re­gard­ing dam­aged ve­hi­cles sold to con­sumers.

In Novem­ber and De­cem­ber 2009 the car deal­er­ship, in Kenepuru Dr, ad­ver­tised 18 mo­tor ve­hi­cles on Trade Me with­out dis­play­ing or pro­vid­ing ac­cess to Con­sumer In­for­ma­tion Notices (CIN) as re­quired by law, said Com­merce Com­mis­sion gen­eral man­ager of en­force­ment Kate Mor­ri­son.

In ad­di­tion, on six oc­ca­sions, be­tween June and Novem­ber 2009, Mr Ku­mar and Sun­rise Mo­tor Group falsely rep­re­sented that ve­hi­cles had not been im­ported in a dam­aged con­di­tion, when in fact they had.

On two fur­ther oc­ca­sions, Sun­rise Mo­tor Group failed to com­plete the manda­tory in­for­ma­tion box on the CIN for ve­hi­cles which had been im­ported in a dam­aged con­di­tion and when ques­tioned by prospec­tive buy­ers of those ve­hi­cles, made false rep­re­sen­ta­tions about the dam­age.

Ms Mor­ri­son said Mr Ku­mar was per­son­ally li­able for the con­tra­ven­tions of the Fair Trad­ing Act in re­la­tion to the CINs in the mo­tor ve­hi­cles dis­played at his com­pany’s premises as he en­tered the in­for­ma­tion on the CINs know­ing it was false. Like­wise, he was per­son­ally li­able for the false state­ments he made to prospec­tive pur­chasers about the dam­age to ve­hi­cles be­ing of­fered for sale by Sun­rise Mo­tor Group.

‘‘When traders are ques­tioned about the prod­ucts they sell, they must an­swer truth­fully. This case shows that not just the com­pany, but also the in­di­vid­ual mak­ing false and mis­lead­ing rep­re­sen­ta­tions, can be pros­e­cuted,’’ said Ms Mor­ri­son.

‘‘Pur­chas­ing a car is a sig­nif­i­cant in­vest­ment and buy­ers are en­ti­tled to have cor­rect in­for­ma­tion about ve­hi­cles so that they can make com­par­isons and in­formed choices. Traders must en­sure that con­sumers have ac­cess to cor­rect and com­plete Con­sumer In­for­ma­tion Notices for all used mo­tor ve­hi­cles of­fered or dis­played for sale.’’

Mo­tor ve­hi­cle traders are re­quired to dis­play cor­rect CINs by the Con­sumer In­for­ma­tion Stan­dards (Used Mo­tor Ve­hi­cles) Reg­u­la­tions 2008, which are ad­min­is­tered un­der the Fair Trad­ing Act.

When con­tacted by Kapi-Mana News, Mr Kumer said he had not known CINs were re­quired for ve­hi­cles sold on Trade Me.

‘‘When we were told we had to do that, we started putting the win­dow cards on.’’

He said ve­hi­cles at the car yard al­ways dis­played CIN in­for­ma­tion.

Mr Ku­mar felt the fines were ex­ces­sive given the eco­nomic cli­mate – ‘‘It’s hard times for us as well’’ – and be­lieved the Com­merce Com­mis­sion should do more to en­sure car sell­ers clearly un­der­stand the leg­is­la­tion.

Ms Mor­ri­son said in Au­gust this year the Com­mis­sion wrote to about 2500 reg­is­tered mo­tor ve­hi­cle traders re­mind­ing them of their obli­ga­tions in re­la­tion to the CIN reg­u­la­tions and com­pli­ance with the Fair Trad­ing Act. It also pub­lished a warn­ing for Trade Me ad­ver­tis­ers who sold more than six mo­tor ve­hi­cles within a 12 month pe­riod.

Penal­ties for breach­ing the Fair Trad­ing Act can in­clude fines of up to $200,000 for a com­pany and $60,000 for an in­di­vid­ual.

Visit mo­tor­traders.med.govt.nz.

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