Monday, December 21, 2015

Buying a brand new car - What i learnt.

I am not a lawyer and this is just what i learnt. Believing everything below and not doing your due diligence is like believing a tiger gives birth to eggs under water.

Actually, it is very easy to learn about the workings of this industry and the gimmicks they play. Just go to the PIs and say you went to his competitor and they will start telling you the gimmicks their competitor play. Go to another one and they will do the same. After a while, you will be wiser as they have revealed everything there is to be revealed by bad mouthing their competitors.

The most important thing. If you don't do this, don't blame people for cheating you.
Everything must be written in black and white. Ask for company stamp and receipts of any payment or deposits and always ask them for a copy of any agreement and read the terms and conditions carefully, Any amendments must be signed and ask for company stamp again.
Insist on the 1)Refund policy 2)Exchange policy 3)Cancellation policy 4)Amendment policy and always put a timeframe. ALWAYS put a date!
Exercise your right to "WALK AWAY" if none of these is given to you and of course you need to put yourself in the position of power by not doing last minute purchases.

Booking fee
PIs will ask for a deposit which includes the COE bidding deposit($10000) as priced by LTA + booking fee. Market rate for deposit is $15000. Some will ask $20000 and some $12000. If they ask for too much, ask yourself why. ( tell tale sign)

Loan or no loan
PIs always take it for granted you want to take a loan with the max tenure (5 years) and max amount.
Taking no loan the price will bump up by a market rate of $3000. Some will ask $4000 and some $2500. Again, why are some asking for $4000? (tell tale sign)

This is a non issue as their commission is really low, like about10% of 1 year insurance, maybe $100 thereabouts. Besides, they will give u a list to choose from and whether you take directly from insurer or through them, its the same.

CaseTrust-SVTA accreditation
PIs will tell you this accreditation is rubbish as " they pay money to get one". If i hear him/her say this, i immediately switch off. (tell tale sign). Let me tell you why.
1) Accredited car companies have a $50000 bond with CASE, so this can be drawn down to settle disputes.
2) It is true they need to pay money BUT they also need to meet a series of best practices process such as stating refund policy , exchange policy, e.t.c clearly. There are many PIs who want to pay money BUT still can't get the accreditation.
3) Let's say you go to CASE to complain.  If a PI is not accredited, CASE can only invite them to come voluntarily for mediation. If PI is accredited,  it is compulsory for them to come for mediation or lose the accreditation.

It is enlightening to see that only 31 PIs are accredited out of the numerous PIs which is a reflection of the sorry state of affairs in this industry. See list of accredited companies here. As consumers, we have the power to make a difference only through collective effort. Go to such companies and let the shady ones go bust. Having said that, there are sure to be some black sheeps among the accredited companies which i have personally encountered but the risk is less.

Know your rights
I am proud to be a Singaporean as there are many safeguards in place to protect consumer interest, but one has to take the effort to help themselves by learning them.
Consumer Protection (Fair Trading) Act - Read the 20 specific unfair practices to know what is deemed as an unfair practice which you can then know whether you will win in the event of litigation. This is applicable for claims not exceeding $30000.
Lemon Law - mainly for defective goods and you must make sure to have  black and white your correspondence with the PI within 6 months. In this way, the onus is on the PI to prove that his goods is not defective. After 6 months, the onus is on you  to prove.

Let's say you have a dispute with the PI. Go to CASE first. Let me tell you why.
1) It looks favourable on you in the event you want to sue them under civil court or if you go to the small claims tribunal It would be really very favourable on you if they don't turn up after being invited by CASE. Why did the PI not turn up?
2)This is a quick way to settle disputes and reach a settlement. Time is money and let's move on.
3)CASE is also useful as after seeing them, you may have a better idea of whether you can win if you decide to undertake litigation. Seriously, you don't want to go the litigation route if you are not certain of winning as its expensive as the loser has to pay all the expenses of both parties.

Small Claims Tribunal
Well if the PI still doesn't settle after CASE, you can go to the Small Claims Tribunal. You need not have a lawyer if you go this route. Some conditions must be met.
1)The dispute must be less than $10k and you report it within 1 year.
2) If between $10k and $20k, the PI must also agree.
3)Above $20k SCT has no jurisdiction.

Engage a lawyer 
Sue them in civil court. This is expensive, but if you are sure you will win, after going to CASE, or seeing that it is among the 20 unfair practice as specified in the Consumer Protection (Fair Trading) Act, just  do it. I know i will. The loser pays it all. But play your cards right. If the PI has no assets , how does he pay your expenses? Again, this boils down to going to a PI who has much to lose, which are usually CASETrust-SVTA accredited car dealers.

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