Peace of mind when making the second-largest purchase most Ontarians will ever make is important. But vehicle sales are often not straightforward for those new to the process.
Understanding contracts, history reports, all-in pricing, financing and the limited protections for consumers when they purchase privately leaves opportunities for pitfalls. OMVIC arms consumers with the information they need to make a safer, more informed purchase and punishes bad actors.
OMVIC, the Ontario Motor Vehicle Industry Council, regulates motor vehicle sales in Ontario. It protects consumers’ rights, enhances industry professionalism and ensures fair and transparent competition for registered motor vehicle dealers.
If Ontarians bought a car in the province after 1997, chances are they saw the OMVIC acronym on stickers around the dealership or on their bill of sale. But a 2020 Ontario-wide survey found that only 33 per cent of the public know what OMVIC stands for or how it can and does protect them when they buy a car.
OMVIC enforces the Motor Vehicle Dealers Act (MVDA), 2002, certain elements of the Consumer Protection Act (CPA) and other relevant consumer protection legislation for Ontario’s Ministry of Government and Consumer Services.
Using both Acts as its guiding principles, OMVIC provides Ontario’s 8,192 dealers and 29,507 salespeople the training and education they need to sell and advertise new and used vehicles to consumers. By registering dealers and their sales staff, OMVIC works to ensure the highest standards of compliance for its registrants — this, in turn, helps protect consumers. Consumers who buy a vehicle from an OMVIC-registered dealer are also protected and have access to a compensation fund.
As the pandemic erodes many Ontarians’ willingness to take public transit, some see car purchases as a safer alternative — but buying a car can be stressful. Young people, newcomers to Canada and non-English speakers are often unfamiliar with the car-buying process, what protections they have under the law or even where to begin. It can be overwhelming: uninformed decisions can leave consumers stuck with bad cars and financial headaches.
If something does go wrong — and consumers need help — they can contact OMVIC. Its consumer support team fielded 32,000 inquiries and complaints in 2020, leading to more than $1.5 million in restitution for consumers. OMVIC is also proactive: it has an enforcement team to ensure businesses play by the rules. In 2020, the team completed 2,123 inspections and laid 540 charges against registered dealers or salespeople.
Generally, dealers and salespeople want to do the right thing and offer quality products to potential car buyers. Building a healthy marketplace where business can thrive is important. That’s why OMVIC offers training and best practices while working closely with Georgian College’s Automotive School of Business to ensure new salespeople and dealers start on the right foot.
For more than 23 years, OMVIC has regulated the 15 million vehicles sold in Ontario, ensuring the over half a billion dollars consumers invested in new and used vehicles over that time was — and continues to be — spent on safe, quality vehicles that are sold by registered dealers and salespeople.
Buying a car can be daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. Working closely with OMVIC and accessing its resources to guide consumers in the car-buying process is the safer way to buy. Become an informed consumer and protect yourself by visiting omvic.ca or call 1-800-943-6002.