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Dodgy Motor Dealer Caught Out

Source:  Office of Fair Trading - July 2017

Several rogue Queensland car dealers have felt the full force of the law

Former Brisbane motor dealer, Glen David Mayer, was fined $4,876 and permanently disqualified from the motor industry by the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal on 16 June 2017.

Mr Mayer was found to have breached his obligations as a motor dealer on 83 separate occasions relating to 24 motor vehicle sales. The breaches included selling vehicles without clear title and making false or misleading representations relating to the vehicles he sold—including the make and model of the vehicles. He also failed to provide consumers with notices about cooling-off periods and statutory warranties.

The tribunal took into account threats Mr Mayer made to consumers who had lodged complaints and his failure to co-operate with the OFT.

Somerset man, Paul Andrew Poole was fined $3,000 by the Brisbane Magistrates Court on 20 June for falsely representing a vehicle’s mileage.

The court heard Mr Poole, who has never held a motor dealer licence, bought a vehicle with an odometer reading of 478,944km. Just over a month later he sold the same vehicle via auction with an odometer reading of 283,582km.

Unlicensed motor dealer

 

Surfers Paradise man, Michael Alba, was fined $8,000 by the Southport Magistrates Court on 12 June for selling motor vehicles without a licence.

Mr Abla sold four vehicles while unlicensed, alternating between multiple phone numbers and email accounts in his dealings with consumers.

Office of Fair Trading Fee Increase from 1 July 2017

July 2017

 

Fees for a 1 Year and 3 Year application/renewal of a Motor Dealer licence and a Motor Salesperson Registration Certificate with the Office of Fair Trading have increased.  For details of new fees follow link to -

Office of Fair Trading Qld Forms and Fees

Unlicenced Dealer Prosecuted

Source:  Office of Fair Trading - June 2017

A Surfers Paradise man was fined $8,000 by the Southport Magistrates Court yesterday (12 June 2017) for selling motor vehicles without a licence.

Michael Abla pleaded guilty to four counts of unlicensed motor dealing and was fined $8,000.

The court heard, between June and December 2016, Mr Abla sold four cars to unsuspecting consumers via websites such as Gumtree, eBay and Car Sales. Mr Abla alternated between multiple phone numbers and email accounts in his dealings with consumers.

In sentencing, the court considered Mr Abla’s intent to deceive consumers but took into account his intention to get a motor dealer licence. The court warned Mr Abla of the serious consequences if he were to appear in court again on similar charges.

Fair Trading Executive Director Brian Bauer said, for the protection of consumers, motor dealers had to be licensed and follow specific rules.

“A consumer who purchases a vehicle from an unlicensed motor dealer may face problems seeking assistance if issues or concerns arise after the purchase,” Mr Bauer said.

“A second-hand car purchased from a licensed motor dealer comes with built in consumer protections including a cooling-off period, statutory warranty and access to a claim fund if the motor dealer does something wrong.”

Motor Dealer Caught Winding Back Odometers

Source:  Office of Fair Trading Media Release - May  2017

A Gold Coast man was ordered to pay $3,657 in fines and disqualified from being a motor dealer for 10 years by the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal (QCAT) yesterday (30 May 2017).

Ivan Kaplun was investigated by the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) for making false and misleading representations about car mileage.

The tribunal heard Mr Kaplun, who had been a licensed motor dealer since 2010, bought three cars at auction, wound back the odometers by a total of 327,574km and on-sold three cars to unsuspecting consumers.

Mr Kaplun also failed to advise potential buyers he was a licensed motor dealer, or give a statutory warranty or written contract of sale to the buyers.

The Tribunal heard Mr Kaplun was obstructive throughout the investigation, claiming to have lost documentation and refusing to admit responsibility for his illegal actions.

In sentencing, the tribunal considered Mr Kaplun’s clear intent to make a profit at the expense of the affected consumers, and his disregard for their safety in driving vehicles significantly older than they were led to believe.

Fair Trading Executive Director Brian Bauer was pleased with the tribunal’s decision and said motor dealers who misrepresent car mileage had no place in the industry.

“Purchasing a vehicle with a tampered odometer is a major safety concern, as the further a vehicle travels, the more prone it is to safety defects,” Mr Bauer said.

“Unexpected maintenance issues could arise, and consumers may find themselves out of pocket a lot more than they anticipated.

“Consumers should complete the appropriate checks before purchasing a vehicle, like doing a Personal Properties Securities Register (PPSR) search and checking the results against those provided by the seller.”

RACQ warns motor dealers and buyers to beware as flooded cars flood the market

May  2017

RACQ has warned prospective car buyers around the State to be wary of vehicles affected by recent flooding in Queensland and New Sou                                               

 

RACQ Head of Technical and Safety Policy Steve Spalding said flood damaged cars could come with a raft of problems and end up costing a lot more than just the sale price.

"If you’re in the market for a second-hand car, particularly if you’re buying through a private sale, you need to do proper checks," Mr Spalding said.

"After weather events like what we’ve seen recently, people often opt to sell their car rather than do the necessary repairs.

"Often there are no obvious signs of damage, but that doesn’t mean there are no issues with the vehicle.

"Driving a car that’s been affected by water can be very risky, especially if mechanical components have been engulfed. Water in the transmission can affect oils and lead to expensive failures.

"Water in the fuel tank can cause ongoing running problems, diesel fuel systems are particularly sensitive to water contamination."

Mr Spalding said it wasn’t only regions affected by flood where flood damaged vehicles would be for sale.

"Vehicles are often moved around between dealers and wholesalers and a car damaged in the floods on the Gold Coast could pop up for sale in Cairns," he said.

 

"Regardless of whether you believe the car you want to purchase has been affected by flood waters, it’s important you have it checked by a professional mechanic."

If a car has been written off by an insurance company this should be reflected on a PPSR search.

Million kilometre trip for couple of dodgy motor dealers

Source: Office of Fair Trading  - April  2017

 

 A Gold Coast couple were ordered to pay $30,000 in fines by the Southport Magistrates Court yesterday (10 April 2017) for multiple consumer law and motor dealing offences, following an Office of Fair Trading (OFT) investigation.

Snezanna Mladenis, who did not appear in court, was fined $18,000 for making false and misleading representations about mileage, employing an unlicensed motor salesperson (Paul Mladenis), and failing to appropriately maintain a business transaction register. Ms Mladenis faces 180 days in prison if she fails to pay the fine within one month.

Paul Mladenis, who also did not appear in court, was fined $12,000 for making false and misleading representations about mileage and acting as an unlicensed motor salesperson. Mr Mladenis faces 120 days in prison if he fails to pay the fine within one month.

The court heard Mr Mladenis, who was convicted and fined in September 2016 for similar offences, and Ms Mladenis, wound back the odometers on three vehicles, before on-selling them to consumers.

The two sales, with odometers wound back by more than 270,000km and 440,000km respectively, netted the Mladenis’ $20,666 in profit. Mrs Mladenis was warned by the OFT not to sell a third vehicle that had been wound back by more than 625,000kms. However, this did not deter Mrs Mladenis, who proceeded to sell the vehicle to an unsuspecting consumer. The Mladenis’ made a profit of $8,999 from the sale.

In sentencing, the court considered the offences to be serious, noting the Mladenis’ gained significant profit from the illegal conduct.

Fair Trading Executive Director Brian Bauer said odometer tampering was a serious offence, and the OFT would continue to pursue dodgy backyard dealers.   “Winding back odometers is unacceptable, and shonks who put profit over the safety of drivers will face the consequences,” Mr Bauer said.  “Consumers are at serious risk whenever they drive a vehicle which has had its odometer wound back and it is much older than they believe.”

Legitimate motor dealers and consumers are encouraged to report unlawful practices in the motor industry by making a complaint at www.qld.gov.au/fairtrading ( https://www.qld.gov.au/law/fair-trading/ ) or calling 13 QGOV (13 74 68).

Gold Coast Man Imprisoned for Unlicenced Motor Dealing

Source: Office of Fair Trading  - November 2016

An unlicensed Gold Coast motor dealer has been imprisoned and ordered to pay over $37,000 in fines and costs by the Southport Magistrates Court after being charged by the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) for the second time.

Paul David Smith was found guilty of acting as an unlicensed motor dealer, and the Court invoked an earlier suspended sentence (on an unrelated matter) of three months imprisonment. Mr Smith was further sentenced to four months imprisonment, wholly suspended for two years.

Mr Smith was fined $20,000 after being found guilty of four counts of making false and misleading representations under the Australian Consumer Law (ACL). Costs of $17,172 were awarded against Mr Smith. The fine and costs are to be paid within six months, with six months imprisonment in default. Convictions were recorded on all counts.

The court heard that between January 2013 and February 2014, Mr Smith, while unlicensed, sold seven vehicles to consumers via car sales websites under various names. Mr Smith also misrepresented the history of vehicles on two occasions by failing to disclose their previous status as write-offs, and twice claimed a false affiliation with vehicle manufacturers.

The offences were detected by the OFT during a targeted compliance operation against unlicensed motor dealers, using, amongst other things, sales activity records from car sales websites.

In sentencing, the court considered Mr Smith’s intent to deceive consumers for his own gain, his previous conviction for similar offences and his failure to cooperate with the OFT’s investigation.

Businesses are not allowed to make statements that are incorrect or likely to create a false impression.  There are rules around advertising, product packaging, any statement made by a person representing your business and online shopping services. There are fines for business that mislead consumers. 

More information about false and misleading representation is available on the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission website or download the ACL guide Avoiding unfair business practices – a guide for businesses and legal practitioners. To order a hard copy, visit www.qld.gov.au/fairtrading or call 13 QGOV (13 74 68).

Odometer tamperer hit with fine of $17,000

September 2016

A Gold Coast man was ordered to pay $17,000 in fines (12 September 2016) by the Southport Magistrates Court after being charged by the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) with odometer tampering and acting unlicensed.

Paul Mladenis, who did not appear in court, was charged with two counts of false representations about mileage, and one count of unlicensed motor dealing. He was fined $17,000, and will face 170 days in prison if he fails to pay it within two months.

The court heard that Mr Mladenis, who was never a licensed motor dealer, bought two cars from an auction house in Victoria and on-sold those to consumers, having wound back the odometers by more than 400,000km on each vehicle.

Mr Mladenis completed one sale after he turned back the odometer reading from 732,915km to 308,519km and made a profit of over $9,000.

A second consumer paid a $10,000 deposit for a vehicle that had its odometer turned back more than 400,000km. The vehicle was never delivered to the consumer, and a refund was never provided.

In sentencing, the court considered Mr Mladenis’s intent to deceive consumers for his own financial gain, and acknowledged the penalty needed to act as a deterrent for other unscrupulous dealers.

Fair Trading Acting Executive Director Sharon Simmers said the fine sent a strong message to anyone attempting to sell cars after tampering with the odometer.

“Odometer readings help determine the value of the vehicle, and when it is tampered with, can drastically change what a consumer is likely to pay for the vehicle,” said Ms Simmers.

“The OFT takes odometer tampering very seriously because it means consumers are driving around in cars which are much older than they believe they are, putting their safety at risk.”

Volkswagon Emissions Defeat Device

 

August2016

The Office of Fair Trading advises The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has instituted proceedings in the Federal Court of Australia against German company Volkswagen Aktiengesellschaft (VWAG) and its Australian subsidiary, Volkswagen Group Australia Pty Ltd (VGA), alleging they engaged in misleading or deceptive conduct, made false or misleading representations and engaged in conduct liable to mislead the public in relation to diesel vehicle emission claims.

When purchasing an affected vehicle, consumers still have the full protection of the law.

Motor dealers and suppliers are obliged by law to fully disclose to prospective buyers if a vehicle contains a defeat device and will be subject to the recall. As further information about the impact of any necessary repairs to affected vehicles becomes available, including for example a change in the fuel economy of the vehicle, this information must also be disclosed to prospective buyers.

In Queensland, it is an offence for a motor dealer or salesperson to make a false representation about a vehicle. The maximum penalty is a $65,826 fine. A false representation includes the wilful concealment of a ‘material fact’. All issues surrounding the emissions defeat devices are material facts, and must be disclosed to prospective buyers.

Office of Fair Trading Increase Value of Penalty Points

July 2016

Penalty Points for breaches under the Motor Dealers and Chattel Auctioneers Act have increased to $121.90 per penalty point.

Office of Fair Trading Fee Increase from 1 July 2016

July 2016

 

Fees for a 1 Year and 3 Year application/renewal of a Motor Dealer licence and a Motor Salesperson Registration Certificate with the Office of Fair Trading have increased.  For details of new fees follow link to -

Office of Fair Trading Qld Forms and Fees

Backyard Dealers Caught in Gold Coast Sting

 

May 2016

 

The Gold Coast Bulletin - April 15, 2016 published the following article written by Jack Harbour:

 

DOZENS of backyard car dealers who illegally buy and sell vehicles with known defects have been caught in a sting by the Office of Fair Trading.

 

Thirty-two businesses in southeast Queensland were raided as part of a joint operation with the Motor Trades Association of Queensland (MTAQ) to expose widespread unlicensed dealing.

 

MTAQ general manager Kelly Dewar said the crackdown was aimed at licensed traders posing as private sellers and unlicensed backyard operators ripping off Gold Coast motorists.  “Unlicensed backyard operators make their living selling cars but pose as private sellers to avoid legal, tax and safety obligations,” she said.  “Consumers who buy cars from these operators are deprived of their legal rights, including a cooling-off period and warranty.  “The MTAQ has seen cases of customers trading in a car only to discover, after doing some background checks, that they unwittingly purchased a repairable write-off that has been very poorly repaired.”

 

“Compliance spot checks were carried out at each location as part of the operation,” he said.

Thirty-two businesses were identified as trading illegally and compliance action was taken against them.”

 

A reputable mechanic on the southern Gold Coast said although backyard operators had been active for years, it had become more prevalent recently.  “I find a lot of backyard guys will go to the auction, buy two or three cars a month … come home, clean them up and advertise them as their mum’s car,” he said.  “I know people who even go out and print service stickers, stick it on the window and put a date on it. People think the car’s been serviced regularly and it hasn’t. It’s a dodgy sticker that the guy’s printed out on his computer, wrote a rego and mileage on it and stuck it on the window.  “There’s no service book, no warranty book in the glove box.”   The small business operator said there was also an issue with dodgy operators purchasing cars deemed repairable write-offs in NSW before registering them on the Gold Coast and selling them.

 

A spokesman from the Office of Fair Trading said illegal operators could face infringement notices of up to $10,800 for a corporation or court action which could involve fines of up to $220,000 for an individual.

 

Sunshine Coast Trader fined $557,000

 

April 2016

 

A Sunshine Coast trader was ordered to pay over $557,000 in fines and restitution yesterday (13 April 2016) by the Maroochydore Magistrates Court after being charged by the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) with failing to supply camper trailers paid for by consumers.

 

Peter John Nulty pleaded guilty to eight counts of accepting payment and failing to supply under the Australian Consumer Law and fined $40,000.  Mr Nulty’s two companies, Mirage RV Pty Ltd and PJ and PT Nulty, were also fined $100,000 each.

Convictions were recorded against both companies.The court heard Mr Nulty took payments from eight consumers between late 2013 and mid 2014 for camper trailers. The consumers were given a series of delivery dates, but they were not met and refunds were not provided.Mr Nulty was ordered to pay $317,939.61 in restitution to the eight affected consumers.  In sentencing, the court considered Mr Nulty’s failure to cooperate with OFT’s investigation and that Mr Nulty continued to take payments from consumers even while knowing that he couldn’t supply the camper trailers because a fire had damaged his business premises.

 

Fair Trading Executive Director Brian Bauer said the fine sent a strong message to other traders.“Taking money from customers to prop up ailing finances invariably leads to a deeper financial hole, and leaves the business and its owners open to prosecution.“As a consumer, you have a right to expect that goods and services you pay for will be delivered as promised” said Mr Bauer.If a business does fail to deliver, consumers can make a complaint to the OFT

Office of Fair Trading Issues Reminder on Unwarranted Used Vehicle

 

March 2016

 

The Office of Fair Trading is reminding motor dealers of their obligations when selling unwarranted motor vehicles.

 

The OFT continues to crack down on unfair practices in the motor industry.

 

Under a statutory warranty, a motor dealer must guarantee the vehicle is free from defects, at the time of sale and for the warranty period. During the statutory warranty period the motor dealer must fix defects covered by the warranty.

 

Statutory warranty applies when:

  • the odometer reading is less than 160,000kmand

  • the date of manufacture is less than 10 years before the sale date.

 

The warranty expires after 3 months or the first 5000km.

 

A motor dealer may advertise or display for sale an unwarranted vehicle but must tell a buyer it does not come with a statutory warranty. You can do this by

  • clearly stating it in any advertisements for the vehicle

  • putting a notice on the windshield or price tag

  • placing signs at the main entrance to the dealership if all vehicles are unwarranted.

 

Failure to do so can result in a maximum penalty of $11,780.  More information on guarantees and warranties for second-hand vehicles is available from the OFT website.

Warning on Vehicle Rust Inhibitors

 

February 2016

 

The Office of Fair Trading is warning the motor industry of certain types of electronic rust inhibitors which may still be found in vehicles across the State, despite being previously recalled.

 

A voluntary recall of the rust inhibitors occurred nationwide in June 2012 for products that were sold between 30 September 2008 and 31 December 2010. Details are available from the Recalls Australia website. Despite the recall, it is believed there are still thousands of vehicles with unsafe rust inhibitors in them, many of which are in Queensland.The recall was undertaken because the inhibitors didn’t have a fuse fitted. Under some circumstances, this can cause the electrical wiring to overheat and catch fire. This missing external fuse would provide an additional fail-safe should a short circuit occur.The warning comes after a Queensland consumer’s motor vehicle caught fire, with one of the recalled rust inhibitors thought to be the cause. The car was not running at the time, and fortunately the fire was quickly extinguished before it could spread and cause further damage. The inhibitor devices run off the battery, so they pose a danger even when a vehicle is not running.

 

Having purchased the car second-hand, the consumer was unaware a recalled rust inhibitor was fitted to it.  Products that were included in the recall were sold under the following brand names:

  • Motor One Ruststopper

  • Computerised Corrosion Inhibitor

  • Defense Pak Electronic Corrosion Inhibitor

  • Six Star Computerised Electronic Corrosion Inhibitor.

 

The OFT urges both motor dealers and consumers who had their cars fitted with electronic rust inhibitors between 2008 and 2010 to confirm they do not have one of the recalled products.If a rust inhibitor is present, it is recommended you contact the supplier to arrange a repair under the recall.  You can contact the recall hotline on 1800 909 577 (10am to 6pm AEST Monday to Friday) for further instructions.Any products suspected of being unsafe can be reported to OFT at www.qld.gov.au/fairtrading or by calling 13 QGOV (13 74 68).

Sunshine Coast Motor Dealer Fined

 

January 2016

 

A SUNSHINE Coast man has been ordered to pay nearly $40,000 in fines and restitution by the Maroochydore Magistrates Court after being charged by the Office of Fair Trading for offences connected with his motor dealing business. 

 

Scott Peter Bain McVey, proprietor of Save Cash Auto Brokers, was found guilty on two counts of failing to supply goods, one count of employing an unlicensed person and one count of making a false statement to an inspector.

Mr McVey was fined $34,000 and ordered to pay $5958 in restitution to two of his customers.

A conviction was recorded.

 

The court heard that during the sale of two vehicles, Mr McVey also accepted payment for third party warranties but failed to purchase the warranties on behalf of the consumers, leaving them without the appropriate protection and unaware of their lack of warranty cover.

One consumer subsequently needed repairs to the car, which would have been covered under warranty had Mr McVey purchased it.

 

The restitution order includes a payment to the consumer for the repair bill.

A Reminder of OFT Powers

 

January 2016

 

The Office of Fair Trading have issued the following statement reminding motor dealers of their inspection powers -

 

The OFT exists to help ensure a fair and equitable Queensland marketplace.  To do this, OFT Inspectors have entry, search and seizure powers. This is so we can ensure suspect trader behaviour is properly investigated and businesses operate legally.


Our Inspectors can enter a place if:

  • it’s a public place

  • the owner’s gives permission

  • a court issues a warrant.

Once inside, our Inspectors can:

  • search the premises

  • seize possessions

  • take copies of documents

  • take other people or equipment into the area.

You must follow any lawful direction given by one of our Inspectors. If requested, you must give them:

  • your name and address

  • any information regarding your work

  • copies of any documents they ask for.

Our Inspectors will always show identification with their photograph and signature.

Inspectors also have powers to issue ‘compulsory notices’ requiring documents be produced. Depending on what and who we are investigating, we might use compulsory notice powers under different Acts. Significant fines and imprisonment (in serious cases) can result if you fail to comply.

Providing false information or lying to an inspector are also serious offences carrying significant penalties.