Alleged Curbsiders Charged for Rolling Back Odometers – Selling to Unsuspecting Consumers
OMVIC has charged Harnek Brar and Jagtar Singh Gill of Milton with curbsiding (acting as a dealer without registration). The pair was also charged under the Consumer Protection Act (CPA) for allegedly making a false, misleading or deceptive representation – i.e. selling vehicles with rolled backed odometers.
“The unfair business practices these men are charged with are serious,” explains Terry O’Keefe, OMVIC Director of Communications. “Some of the charges relate to the sale of-vehicles whose odometers were allegedly rolled back nearly 200,000 kms.” Halton Regional Police also conducted an investigation charging both parties with 14 counts each of fraud under $5,000 and 14 counts each of false pretenses. Both men will appear in Milton Court on March 2, 2015.
The Motor Vehicle Dealers Act (MVDA) requires ALL dealers and salespeople be registered with OMVIC. Just as curbsiders commonly misrepresent themselves by posing as private sellers, they often misrepresent the vehicles they sell; many are accident-damaged, rebuilt write-offs or odometer-tampered.
Despite OMVIC’s ongoing curbsider enforcement, these illegal sellers continue to propagate. "Traditionally curbsiders sold very inexpensive cars – the ones dealers didn’t want on their lot," says O’Keefe. "While they continue to sell those, many have now progressed to selling high-end vehicles, many that have been involved in collisions." Purchased from salvage auctions these wrecks are fixed up, often the repairs are dubious quality, and commonly the damage is undisclosed or trivialized when the car is sold. Curbsiders also sell late model vehicles, two to five years old, with very high mileage – often with rolled back odometers.
“It’s vital car buyers understand when they’re protected, and when they’re not.” states O’Keefe. Because curbsiders are not registered with OMVIC, consumers who purchase from them are deemed to have conducted a transaction with a private seller and are therefore not protected by Ontario’s consumer protection laws and do not have access to the Motor Vehicle Dealers Compensation Fund.
Note: While curbsiders commonly pose as private sellers, many now work from small automotive related businesses like repair centres or body shops. If you’re not certain the business you’re dealing with is actually a registered dealer, conduct a search on OMVIC’s website or ask to see their OMVIC licence. By law, every licensed salesperson must carry their licence on his or her person while working and present it to anyone asking to see it. If they can’t produce their OMVIC Registration, walk away!
To learn more about curbsiders and for a list of curbsider convictions, visit OMVIC’s website. To report a suspected curbsider, call 1-888-NO-CURBS (662-8727) or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Don’t Get Stuck with a Lemon…Know Your Ride
Buying a vehicle privately comes with risk. Private purchasers are not protected by OMVIC or Ontario’s consumer protection law. Those protections only apply when buying from a registered dealer. So, when buying privately consumers have to learn to protect themselves; and one of the key steps is taking a comprehensive test drive.
“Taking a thorough test drive is a vital part of the car buying process, whether it’s a purchase from a registered dealer or private seller” states OMVIC Director of Communications and Education Terry O’Keefe. “And by thorough I mean thorough – in town, on the highway, on hills – not just around the block…or parking lot.”
To get the most out of a test drive OMVIC suggests consumers follow these tips:
If possible, bring a friend or family member; they may notice something you don’t. Note: for security reasons, if going alone let someone know the details of your meeting (especially when purchasing privately) and take a cell phone.
Make sure it’s a good fit
Before taking the car out for a test drive, make sure it’s a good fit. Adjust the seat and mirrors. Can you reach the steering wheel and pedals? And sit in the back seat – how’s the fit there?
Test drive during the day. It’s much easier to pick up scratches, dents, paint imperfections, possible body work. Also consider the time of day for the test drive; an 8 am test drive may seem like a good idea but depending on where you live – getting up to highway speeds may be difficult in rush hour.
Put the ‘test’ in test drive
Don’t hesitate to take the vehicle on the highway; you need to see how it handles regular highway speeds. Does it accelerate smoothly? Is the steering crisp or does it wander? Pay attention to how the transmission shifts at different speeds. Find a safe/quiet location and test the brakes – are they firm or does the pedal sink to the firewall? Do they pull to one side? How does the suspension handle road imperfections?
Test all features
Test driving isn’t only about the actual drive but making sure all accessories and equipment function properly. This includes air conditioning and heat, radio, blue tooth, power windows and locks; it’s also a good time to ask how many remotes (for locks/starter) the seller has – they can be pricey to replace
The outcome of the test drive should give you an idea if you want to proceed to the next steps - taking the car to your mechanic and buying a vehicle history report (CarProof, Carfax).
As always – visit www.omvic.ca to learn more about how to protect yourself when buying a car.
HAVE YOU HEARD
2015 Canadian International AutoShow
Don’t miss out on this year’s Canadian International AutoShow! Spanning over 650,000 square feet of automotive-related displays and exhibits, the AutoShow runs from February 13 – 22 at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre.
In the market for a new car? Have a question about your car-buying rights? Be sure to stop by OMVIC’s booth (P221) on the 800 level during your visit to the AutoShow!
And don’t forget to check out the OMVIC-sponsored NASCAR Canadian Tire Series stock car! The #56 Bray AutoSport Dodge Challenger will be at OMVIC’s booth for the duration of the AutoShow – you don’t want to miss it!
To purchase tickets or to find out more information, visit www.autoshow.ca.
OMVIC administers and enforces the Motor Vehicle Dealers Act (MVDA) on behalf of the Ministry of Government and Consumer Services. OMVIC maintains a fair and informed vehicle sales marketplace by regulating dealers and salespersons, regularly inspecting Ontario's 8,000 dealerships and 25,000 salespeople, maintaining a complaint line for consumers and conducting investigations and prosecutions of industry misconduct and illegal sales (curbsiding). OMVIC is also responsible for administering the Motor Vehicle Dealers Compensation Fund on behalf of its Board of Trustees.