Cars are not a commodity, but a real necessity for Australian citizens. Everyone tries to look for the best offer whether online or offline, but, inevitably, there are many scammers out there. Here’s everything you need to know about buying a car, what are your rights and how can you protect yourself against scammers.
What you need to do before buying a car
You probably have a model in your mind already, but that’s hardly enough.
● Check the offers of various online and offline sellers and have a good look at their warranty terms, as they might differ significantly.
● Read about the safety standards of that car. Looks don’t matter that much when it comes to cars, the important thing is for them to offer the best safety features and be in compliance with Australian law.
● Do a test drive and see how it feels.
● Run a vehicle finance check on the car so you don’t have the risk of purchasing a car that may get repossessed later.
● If possible, try to negotiate a better price and get a quote in writing.
● If you’ve found a good offer online, it’s best to visit their offices and see the car for yourself. Don’t ever agree to pay for a car you don’t know it exists.
● You will be asked to make an initial deposit. This is standard practice, but don’t volunteer to pay more than the absolute minimum.
● Before you sign a contract, read it carefully, including the small print.
How to make a complaint
If the vehicle you receive is not up to your satisfaction, if it’s in a bad state and is nothing like the car with the car you agreed to buy, you need to make a complaint to the seller. If it’s something minor, the company will probably agree to do a repair, give you a replacement vehicle or offer you a refund. For major problems, you will need to establish whose fault is it – the seller’s or the manufacturer’s.
Make sure to formulate a written complaint, which you will be able to use later as proof, if you cannot come to an agreement with the seller. You can always give them a call or take the car in so they can see the problem for themselves, but make sure to back your claims with a written complaint.
Always, if possible, take pictures of the car, to use in a future trial.
If there’s a mechanical problem, have an independent mechanic check it out and, preferably, give you a written assessment, including the estimated cost of the repairs.
If you cannot reach an agreement, you need to lodge a complaint with the Motor Trades Association in your state or the local Office of Fair Trading.
If everything fails, you will have to lodge a complaint with the Civil and Administrative Tribunal in your area. Such tribunals have jurisdiction over motor vehicle disputes worth up to $100,000.
If you can prove your claim, you will receive damages. On the other hand, one single complaint like yours can lead to a complex investigation into the practices of that business and, if they are found to be professional scammers, criminal charges might be brought against them which will then show up on their national police check if someone requested it.
Fraudulent practices can be punished by lengthy prison sentences with the conviction going on the perpetrator’s criminal record, so they cannot scam other people in the future.
Also, always remember that if an offer sounds too good to be true, it probably isn’t.