Car dealer fined for FTA breaches
Consumer info forms not filled in
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.