Case issues alert over car dealer after complaints

The Straits Times visited Cars Today's headquarters at the Entrepreneur Business Centre in Kaki Bukit on Feb 16, 2015, and found it empty, its doors padlocked. At least three letters from lawyers or summons from the Small Claims Tribunal were on the
The Straits Times visited Cars Today's headquarters at the Entrepreneur Business Centre in Kaki Bukit on Feb 16, 2015, and found it empty, its doors padlocked. At least three letters from lawyers or summons from the Small Claims Tribunal were on the floor. -- ST PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN
The Straits Times visited Cars Today's headquarters at the Entrepreneur Business Centre in Kaki Bukit on Feb 16, 2015, and found it empty, its doors padlocked. At least three letters from lawyers or summons from the Small Claims Tribunal were on the
The Straits Times visited Cars Today's headquarters at the Entrepreneur Business Centre in Kaki Bukit on Feb 16, 2015, and found it empty, its doors padlocked. At least three letters from lawyers or summons from the Small Claims Tribunal were on the floor.  -- ST PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN

The consumers' watchdog has issued an alert about a car dealer after receiving 12 complaints from customers who claim the ownership of the vehicles they bought had not been transferred to them.

The Consumers Association of Singapore (Case) is investigating after buyers reported facing sudden repossession after buying their vehicles from Cars Today in Kaki Bukit.

The claims total almost $500,000.

In most cases, the cars were bought several months ago, but their ownership was not transferred, despite the buyers making several enquiries with the firm.

Many of the customers had their cars towed away at the weekend and others have been told by Cars Today's owner James Poh to expect a repossession.

Mr Poh, 60, admitted to The Straits Times yesterday that his company is struggling to repay a $1 million loan from credit company Kenso Leasing.

He claimed that Kenso suddenly demanded repayment within seven days on Feb 6.

As Mr Poh could not come up with the money in time, Kenso said it would repossess 43 cars from his customers.

Mr Poh said in Mandarin: "I begged (Kenso) for a six-month extension, but they said no.

"Many buyers have been calling me, but I don't have the money to repay them, I have no choice.This is my fault and I don't know how to fix it."

The Straits Times visited Cars Today's headquarters at the Entrepreneur Business Centre, 18 Kaki Bukit Road 3, last night and found it empty, its doors padlocked. At least three letters from lawyers or summons from the Small Claims Tribunal were on the floor.

The Straits Times understands the space was let to new tenants last weekend, as Cars Today owes three months' rent.

A commodity trader, who spoke anonymously, said he stands to lose his downpayment of $18,000 after repossession.

He has formed a WhatsApp group for other buyers facing the same plight, which currently has 14 members, and said he has heard of 10 cars having been towed away since last Friday.

Another buyer, Mr Marc Tay, is expecting his car to be repossessed any day now. He spent almost $31,000 on a Honda Civic last November.

The 25-year-old, who works in business development, said: "I tried to contact the financing company and told them I would willingly surrender the car if they would wait till after Chinese New Year, but they wouldn't even consider this small request.

"This is a big blow for me. I've just started working, and it's my own money - this whole incident has caused a big dent in my financial plans."

Case has advised affected customers to make a police report immediately and consult a lawyer as the claims are more than $10,000 and exceed the jurisdiction of the Small Claims Tribunal.

oliviaho@sph.com.sg