Six GTA car dealers and five individuals have been charged by OMVIC, after the Regulator conducted undercover investigations concurrent to the recent CTV-W5/Automobile Protection Association (APA) investigation. The W5 broadcast highlighted two troubling issues in the automotive marketplace: the dangers posed by curbsiders (illegal, unlicensed dealers); and an apparent lack of compliance by some registered dealers with Ontario’s advertising and disclosure regulations
“Each year we welcome the W5/APA report,” stated OMVIC Director of Communications, Terry O’Keefe. “A light shone on the deceptive practices of curbsiders and questionable representations of some registered dealers, is a good disinfectant; and just as importantly, it helps educate consumers. Better informed consumers are key to stemming these problems.”
W5/APA visited five supposed “private sellers”, all of whom appeared to be curbsiders; each allegedly misrepresented themselves and the vehicles they offered for sale. According to the report, all vehicles for sale by curbsiders were previous write-offs or had been involved in significant collisions. These facts were not disclosed (or not disclosed fully) to the APA’s undercover shoppers. Further, many of the repairs were of dubious quality and the roadworthiness of the vehicles was questionable.
“For nearly two decades OMVIC has warned consumers about the very real dangers posed by these unscrupulous sellers and has dedicated significant resources to investigating and prosecuting them,” said O’Keefe. “In the past two and a half years alone OMVIC has prosecuted and convicted more than 130 individuals and businesses for curbsiding; another 49 are currently before the courts.”
Curbsiders usually pose as private sellers and advertise in the private classifieds of online marketplaces; they also commonly sell from auto repair facilities. Consumers who purchase from curbsiders are deemed to have conducted private transactions and therefore aren’t protected by OMVIC, Ontario’s consumer protection laws, or the Motor Vehicle Dealers Compensation Fund. Those protections are only available to consumers who buy from OMVIC-Registered Dealers.
Understanding All-In Price Advertising
In Ontario, if a dealer advertises a price for a vehicle, the price must include ALL fees and charges the dealer intends to collect including:
•PDI-PDE (pre-delivery inspection/expense)
•Administration (Admin) fee(s)
•Government levies (air tax, etc.)
•OMVIC fee ($5)
•Safety and e-test (unless the ad contains the mandatory “Unfit Vehicle” or “As-Is” statement)
•Note: HST and licensing do not have to be included in the price if the ad clearly indicates they are not included. Further, if a dealer intends to charge for products or services they have pre-installed on a vehicle, those costs MUST also be included in the advertised price. Examples include:
•Nitrogen/tire protection package
•Security or theft deterrent products/services (etching, etc.)
“Should a dealer try to charge fees in excess of the advertised price, walk away!” exclaimed O’Keefe. “That dealer doesn’t deserve your business; shop elsewhere and report them to OMVIC.”
OMVIC takes its role as Regulator very seriously. “We have 15 dedicated Investigators and 13 Inspectors province-wide. We have two full-time Prosecutors and five Lawyers who prosecute Provincial Offences Act charges or who conduct Discipline Hearings (for breaches of the Code of Ethics) and Licence Appeal Tribunal Hearings (LAT — for proposals to revoke a dealer or salesperson’s licence).”
OMVIC also employs a team of complaint handlers to assist consumers who may have a dispute with an OMVIC-Registered Dealer. Last year this team negotiated the return of over 1.1 million dollars to consumers.
While OMVIC’s role is to provide consumer protection and enforce the law, it’s just as vital that consumers know their rights. In those infrequent instances that a dealer does not live up to the standards demanded of them, an educated consumer is the best line of defence.
For a list of dealers charged in the recent investigations, to review all dealer discipline decisions (for breaches of the Code of Ethics), or to learn more about vehicle-buying rights in Ontario, visit omvic.on.ca.