Licensed motor dealer fined $5,000 for not following the rules

13 July 2020

A Robina motor dealer has been ordered to pay $5,000 after being taken to court by the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) on numerous charges including lying about the age of vehicles he was selling.

Samuel John Moses pleaded guilty in the Southport Magistrates Court to making false representations about the manufactured date of eight used vehicles, failing to provide contracts of sale to two consumers, and failing to keep a transaction register.

Mr Moses was also ordered to pay $101 in court costs. A conviction was not recorded.

The OFT began investigating Mr Moses after receiving a complaint from the Gold Coast City Council which had found he was selling used motor vehicles from a residential address.

The OFT’s investigation found that while Mr Moses was licensed as a motor dealer, he was conducting transactions via private sales to try and circumvent the consumer protection provisions set out in the law. As part of this deception he had not been using his own name on advertisements, instead using aliases and names of family members.

The court heard that in October 2019, a Mermaid Beach resident contacted Mr Moses about a 2005 Mazda 3 he was advertising online. Mr Moses advised that the timing belt had been replaced one year earlier. The consumer paid $2,000 for the vehicle.

However, following a mechanical inspection organised by the consumer, they found that the Mazda 3 was a year 2000 model and the timing belt had never been replaced.

During the investigation, the OFT found that between September and December 2019, Mr Moses listed eight vehicles for sale online where the advertised year was between four and seven years younger than the actual year of manufacture of the vehicles.

The court also heard Mr Moses did not provide a contract of sale to two consumers for vehicles he had sold, and had also failed to keep a transaction register to record the purchase and sale of motor vehicles in his possession.

In sentencing, Magistrate Pamela Dowse said the defendant’s actions were despicable and she was disgusted that he had taken advantage of people who could least afford it.

Fair Trading Executive Director Brian Bauer said issues of motor vehicles being advertised with false details were taken very seriously.

“Consumers need to know the truth about the age of the cars they purchase because the ongoing safety of the vehicle is tied to its servicing and parts replacement schedules,” he said.

“If a car is due for a major service and the new owner is not aware of this, the vehicle may break down and cause a dangerous situation, for example breaking down on a freeway or on a little used rural road.

“We recommend consumers who are buying motor vehicles privately conduct a number of checks before they agree to purchase a car.”

One of the checks consumers can undertake is to visit the Department of Transport and Main Roads’ website to conduct a free check of a vehicle’s registration number or VIN to confirm its registration status, make, model and body type.

Additionally, consumers are advised to contact RACQ for a pre-purchase inspection, mechanical check and vehicle history check.

More information on the legal obligations of motor dealers and the consumer protection benefits of purchasing from a dealer’s yard rather than privately is available on the OFT website or by calling 13 QGOV (13 74 68).