Consumer Protection For Car Owners

Consumer Protection For Car Owners

Victoria Minister for Consumer Affairs Michael O’Brien

Victorians Urged To Dob In Dodgy Car Dealers With New Free Hotline

Victor P Taffa

The Victorian Coalition Government has made it easier for Victorians to help unmask unlicensed car dealers by reporting dodgy operators through a new free phone hotline.

Speaking at City Mazda in South Melbourne today, Minister for Consumer Affairs Michael O’Brien said the new hotline would enable Victorians to inform authorities about unlicensed car traders suspected of flouting the law.

“This new hotline will allow anyone to call up for free and report any car trader that they suspect may be operating without a licence.” Mr. O’Brien said.

“Anyone who trades in cars online, from their home or elsewhere without a licence is breaking the law.”

“The hotline sends a clear message to the community that the Coalition Government is serious about stamping out unlicensed car trading.” Mr. O’Brien said.

Under the Motor Car Traders Act 1986, a person who carries on the business of trading in motor cars must have a licence. Anyone who offers to buy, sell or exchange four or more cars in 12 months is deemed to be acting as a motor car trader.

Consumer Affairs Victoria (CAV) has already received around 20 reports this year about possible unlicensed car traders.

The hotline was welcomed by the Victorian Automotive Chamber of Commerce (VACC).

“Unlicensed car traders selling from the kerbside, from home or unlicensed premises present an unacceptable risk to consumers and should be identified quickly and prohibited from trading before they cause damage.” VACC Executive Director David Purchase said.

“This hotline encourages people to come forward and alert us to operators who they suspect of doing the wrong thing. The information will be used by CAV to identify suspected unlicensed car traders for further investigation.” Mr. O’Brien said.

“We’re asking anyone who suspects someone may be operating as a car trader without a licence to call 1800 351 591.”

CAV maintains a comprehensive inspection program across the state to monitor the industry and detect unlicensed traders, including monitoring motor vehicle advertising and conducting inspections to detect unlicensed trading. So far this year CAV has undertaken around 22 proactive investigations of unlicensed car traders.

“Victoria’s system of car trading licensing protects consumers and helps to ensure that traders that do the right thing are not at a disadvantage.” Mr. O’Brien said.

Buying a car from a Licensed Motor Car Trader provides consumers with significant protections, including:

  • A three-day cooling-off period for most sales;
  • A three-month/5,000 km statutory warranty for cars less than 10 years old that have travelled less than 160,000 km (commercial vehicles, motorcycles and vehicles bought by owners corporations are exempt);
  • Clear title to the car, certifying the car has not been stolen, written off or has money owing on it.

“Illegal operators can rob legitimate companies of business as well as ripping off consumers.” Mr. O’Brien said.

Since July 2009 CAV has successfully prosecuted 14 unlicensed motor car traders and instigated civil action against another five people for conducting business as a motor car trader without a licence.

In January this year a Hoppers Crossing scrap metal business was restrained from carrying on business as a motor car trader until licensed to do so following court action by CAV.