In Welfare Services

Victoria Minister for Consumer Affairs Michael O’Brien

Dodgy Car Dealer Stung With $50,000 Fine And Compo Orders

Victor P Taffa

Melbourne Magistrates’ Court has convicted a former licensed Maidstone motor car trader and fined it $50,000 plus costs for selling cars with tampered odometers.

Simon’s Car Sales Pty Ltd (ACN 097 941 396) pleaded guilty to five charges of odometer tampering and agreed to pay five consumers a total of $34,750 compensation after Consumer Affairs Victoria investigated complaints it received.

The odometers on the cars had been wound back between approximately 40,000 and 120,000 km.

Minister for Consumer Affairs Michael O’Brien said the compensation would assist those affected by the car dealer’s illegal activities.

“Tampering with odometers is a criminal offence and the consequences can be harsh, including severe financial penalties and possible jail for an individual. A conviction could also lead to a licence being cancelled.” Mr. O’Brien said.

“Consumer Affairs Victoria negotiated compensation for consumers left out of pocket with cars not worth what they paid for them, as well as repair bills in some circumstances.”

“Some of these consumers speak little or no English, and weren’t aware of their rights.”

The consumers, who bought cars from the trader between October 2009 and August 2010, will get between $3,000 and $15,000 compensation each. They will also be able to keep their cars.

Mr. O’Brien said Consumer Affairs Victoria investigated the car dealer after receiving complaints.

“In one case a consumer had multiple problems with the car, and rather than spending more money to get it fixed, took it to an auction house. The auction house refused to sell it because the odometer reading was significantly lower than when they had sold it the previous year.” Mr. O’Brien said.

Mr. O’Brien said the fine and compensation served as a warning to motor car traders.

“Consumers have more protection when buying a car from a licensed motor car trader, so it’s important traders obey the law. Those that don’t will face the consequences.” Mr. O’Brien said.

The cars and consumer compensation include:

  • A 2003 Holden Rodeo 4WD, sold for $13,000, had its odometer wound back by approximately 100,000 km. The consumer will receive $15,000 compensation.
  • A 2002 Toyota Prado Landcruiser Wagon, sold for $16,000, had its odometer wound back by approximately 120,000 km. The consumer will receive $9,750 compensation.
  • A 2003 Ford Falcon XT, sold for $8,000, had its odometer wound back by approximately 120,000 km. The consumer will receive $4,000 compensation.
  • A 2000 Honda CRV Wagon, sold for $8,000, had its odometer wound back by approximately 40,000 km. The consumer will receive $3,000 compensation.
  • A 1995 Mitsubishi Pajero GLS, sold for $7,303, had its odometer wound back by approximately 100,000 km. The consumer will receive $3,000 compensation.

Simon’s Car Sales Pty Ltd is no longer operating, having voluntarily surrendered its licence to the Business Licensing Authority in May 2011.

Buying from a licensed motor car trader gives consumers 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), and
  • Clear title to the car, certifying the car has not been stolen, written off or has money owing on it.
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