Message from John Carmichael, OMVIC CEO and Registrar
COVID-19 is an unprecedented crisis for our stakeholders---dealers, salespeople and consumers---and for Ontarians and the world. OMVIC is committed to the health and safety of its staff and its stakeholders. OMVIC will continue to operate from remote sites and work with its stakeholders in these challenging times. While some service levels have been impacted, OMVIC remains committed to maintaining a fair and informed marketplace by protecting the rights of consumers and ensuring fair, honest and open competition for registered motor vehicle dealers during these challenging times.
The impact of COVID-19 will require all of us to adapt and have flexibility with what lies ahead. I have no doubt that we will be successful in facing these challenges.
In a matter of days, the world, our country and province, and on a smaller scale, the car-buying marketplace was turned on its head. As expected, this has generated fear, uncertainty and questions. Questions from both registrants and consumers. While this is an exceptionally fluid situation, changing by the day, below OMVIC has highlighted some of the common questions and answers.
COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions: Consumers
Can I still buy a car during the COVID-19 crisis?
According to the provincial government, car and truck dealerships are an essential service and may remain open, though OMVIC has heard from many dealers that have temporarily closed out of an abundance of caution.
These are uncertain times and many people are being laid off. I just bought a car and am now worried. Can I cancel a contract I just signed?
Generally speaking, there is no cancellation period or cooling off period unless a dealer has failed to make certain specific disclosures related to a vehicle’s history, or there are conditions in the contract that were not met. Some dealers today however grant a customer a cancellation period. This is especially important if a customer buys the vehicle online (or remotely), sight unseen. It’s vital to ask if the dealer provides a cancellation period and to get it in writing. For more information on contract cancellations click here. For more information about buying a vehicle online or remotely, click here.
With social distancing I don’t want to go to a dealership to test drive a car. Can a dealer bring it to my home?
Yes, if the test drive is offered solely for evaluating a vehicle’s performance, suitability and/or condition prior to purchase or lease and for NO other purpose (such as signing a contract).
Can a dealer deliver a vehicle to a customer’s home?
Yes, if the contract has been completed prior to delivery.
How will I know the vehicle I am looking at is properly sanitized and safe?
The process to make sure that a vehicle is properly sanitized is NOT legislated. Consumers must speak to dealers and ensure they feel comfortable with the steps taken to sanitize the vehicle.
Are test drives safe?
Similar to the answer above, consumers must ask the dealer about the precautions taken to ensure the vehicle is safe, such as protocols related to social distancing and vehicle sanitization. While the dealer is allowed to bring the vehicle to a consumer’s home for a test drive, it is up to the consumer to decide whether the car is safe enough to drive.
Can a dealer take a contract to the customer’s home so he/she can sign it if he/she likes the car?
No. However, a dealer could email a contract to the customer to print, sign, scan and email back to the dealer at the dealership, or the dealer could use an e-signature program/process.
Why isn’t OMVIC ordering that dealerships close?
OMVIC does not have the authority to order dealerships to close (for health reasons), only the provincial government can do that and as of March 24, 2020, the government has said that motor vehicle dealerships are an essential business.
COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions: Dealers and Salespeople
Can I take a vehicle to a consumer’s home for a test drive?
Yes, if the test drive is offered solely for evaluating a vehicle’s performance, suitability and/or condition prior to purchase or lease and for NO other purpose. For more information, please read OMVIC’s Dealer Bulletin, March 19, 2020: https://bit.ly/OMVIConline
Can I sell a car to a customer online?
Yes, as long as the Motor Vehicle Dealers Act, Consumer Protection Act, Sale of Goods Act and other Ontario laws are all complied with. For more information please read OMVIC’s Dealer Bulletin, March 19, 2020: https://bit.ly/OMVIConline
I come to work and there are no customers. What help is available to me as a salesperson, during this stressful time?
OMVIC genuinely appreciates that this is an incredibly difficult and stressful time for registrants, however, it does not have authority regarding labour issues. The Ontario government has introduced several new policies and measures to address the challenges faced by employees as a result of COVID-19. Please visit the Ministry of Labour website for information and updates.
As the regulator of motor vehicle sales in Ontario, OMVIC’s mandate is to maintain a fair and informed marketplace by protecting the rights of consumers, enhancing industry professionalism and ensuring fair, honest and open competition for registered motor vehicle dealers. Visit omvic.ca to learn more about your car-buying rights as well as additional tips for buying a car in Ontario.
For car buying tips, check out the OMVIC Academy. You can view other resources such as multilingual videos and download the OMVIC Car-buying Guide.
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Ontario Motor Vehicle Industry Council
Ontario Motor Vehicle Industry Council