Forum: Time to regulate used-car businesses

Rows of used cars at the Commonwealth Car Mall. PHOTO: ST FILE

The recent closures of two used-car dealers again paint a poor impression of the business (Sudden closure of 2 car dealers leaves buyers high and dry, Nov 23).

Based on what I have read on online car forums, where buyers air their grouses with no holds barred, the issues with such used-car dealers seem to be on the rise.

For every one case reported in the news, there are probably 10 more unreported incidents - either because of insufficient evidence to mount a legal case, lack of financial stamina to see the case through, or simply because the unfortunate buyer is resigned to not getting his money back as the rogue dealer pleads bankruptcy, a popular exit strategy.

My husband recently won a court judgment against a used-car dealer (Used-car dealer snubs buy-back order, Sept 30) after more than a year and thousands of dollars spent on the legal system.

You would think that this would conclude our troubles. Yet, five months after the verdict, our legal tussle continues.

Much like the affected customers in the recent case, we do not have any recourse when used-car dealers close down, transfer their assets to a new company and move on.

Unlike errant used-car dealers, the buyers cannot simply move on when what is left of the mess is a big sum of money lost, or worse, a big debt with interest for a car loan piling up.

I urge the relevant authorities to start monitoring this loosely regulated industry, where unethical practices have been ongoing for far too long.

Punitive measures must be taken to deter these companies and protect used-car buyers.

Eva Wong

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 27, 2019, with the headline Forum: Time to regulate used-car businesses. Subscribe