The Office of Fair Trading has warned consumers to beware of discrepancies between what they are promised by salespeople and what is stipulated in the contract. A story was reported by a man who decided to buy a second-hand car at a dealership and was told by the salesman that a new car stereo would be installed at no extra cost. The buyer signed the contract, which did not list the stereo as an extra, but was assured by the salesman that the stereo would be added to the contract later. When he went to collect the car a few days later, he found that the stereo had not been installed as promised. He was told that the salesman he had dealt with was unavailable and the dealership manager told him that there were no extras listed in the contract and so he was not entitled to the free installation of the car stereo. Verbal agreements can form part of a contract but are often impossible to prove. There are other considerations to take into account when signing a contract to buy a motor vehicle. If you buy a car privately, you are not entitled to the normal protection of the cooling-off period, you will not get a statutory warranty, the seller is not obliged to give you a REVS certificate or Vcheck nor are they bound by the same laws and Code of Conduct as licensed dealers, and you cannot access the compensation claim fund if anything goes wrong. Buying from a licensed motor dealer can be more expensive than a private sale, but it is often safer. All motor dealers selling used cars in Queensland must be licensed. Licensed motor dealers who sell cars privately may actually be breaking the law, and they must disclose to all intending buyers that they are licensed and provide a cooling-off period and statutory warranty. When you buy a used car from a licensed dealer, you are entitled to:
- a one business day cooling-off period,
- a statutory warranty,
- a guarantee of clear title on the vehicle,
- protection by the motor dealer’s Code of Conduct,
- access a claim fund which may compensate you if you have suffered a financial loss because of the motor dealer’s actions.
For more information about contracts to purchase and advice to get them right to ensure that you are safe and not sorry, contact your local solicitor.