Case flags another car dealer over complaints

The Consumers Association of Singapore (Case) has flagged a parallel importer which has incurred more than 20 complaints from customers in the past year, bringing the number of motor businesses in its alert list to five.

Case received six complaints against SG Auto - located in Ang Mo Kio Street 62 - between September and December last year. This more than doubled to 15 between January and October this year.

Case executive director Seah Seng Choon described SG Auto as "another car dealer that we are very concerned about".

Typically, SG Auto's customers would pay a deposit "for guaranteed COE bidding and delivery of a car".

"They're informed that the company would refund the deposit if the COE bidding was unsuccessful within a certain period of time," Mr Seah said. "In the end, the company was not able to secure the COE. Instead of providing a refund of the deposit, the company came up with various excuses to delay the refund."

But the parallel importer insisted that the complaints were due to a "misunderstanding".

"All have been settled amicably," said SG Auto general manager Glenn Koh, when contacted by The Straits Times. His company had been in business for "almost two years", and it was previously known as Gears & Miles.

Case refuted this, saying that while a few cases were settled, others remained unresolved. Some consumers had also decided to take matters to the Small Claims Tribunal.

Mr Seah said the case is similar to the one involving TLC Cars, a parallel importer in Turf City which closed shop last week, leaving at least 10 customers without their cars or refunds.

Case received eight complaints against TLC in the last two months from consumers who had paid deposits ranging from $15,000 to $60,000.

Other motor firms flagged recently by Case are De Auto Boutique and Exodus Global (41 complaints between January and October); SG Vehicles (30 complaints between January and November last year); and Cars Today (12 complaints since November 2014).

All have closed shop since, except for SG Vehicles which is still operating in Bukit Merah.

Mr Seah said consumers must "do their due diligence in the face of inadequate legislation". He advised them to pay as little deposit as possible to minimise their risk.

Meanwhile, Case is looking into whether to flag another parallel importer: Royal Automotive in Woodlands Close, which has chalked up 12 complaints since July. The company could not be reached for comment.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 10, 2016, with the headline 'Case flags another car dealer over complaints'. Print Edition | Subscribe