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Motor dealer fined $15,000 after misleading buyers

11 November 2020

A Runaway Bay motor dealer has been ordered to pay $15,000 in fines after prosecution by the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) for misleading car buyers and failing to supply the vehicles.

Mark Wayne Williams, owner of TJ Motor Co in Southport, was found guilty of 22 breaches of the Motor Dealers and Chattel Auctioneers Act 2014 andtheAustralian Consumer Law in relation to his dealings with five consumers between December 2019 and January 2020.

The OFTs investigation found that the trader had sold the same car to four different consumers. Only the first consumer ever received the vehicle and they returned it as it was not roadworthy.

Despite knowing it was not roadworthy, the trader went on to sell the vehicle to three further consumers, two on the same day, but he did not supply the vehicle to any of them.

The Southport Magistrates Court heard that in his dealings with each of the five consumers Mr Williams made misleading representations:

  • in all five cases the consumers were advised the vehicle they purchased was roadworthy when it was not,
  • in three of the cases consumers were told they would receive an extended 12-month warranty when they did not,
  • in one case the consumer was advised they would receive a retail gift card worth $1,000 as part of the sale and they did not,
  • in one case the consumer was advised a rental car would be provided to them while they awaited delivery of their vehicle but this was not supplied.

The court also heard that in each of the five transactions the motor dealer failed to provide the consumers all the paperwork required by law, including receipts containing all the required particulars and written contracts.

In sentencing Magistrate Pamela Dowse noted that unscrupulous behaviour cannot be tolerated; that this was a disgrace; and that it was a rip off to consumers.

Fair Trading Executive Director Brian Bauer said it was completely unacceptable for a dealer to purport to sell the same car to multiple consumers.

"Knowingly accepting payment for the same vehicle from two different consumers on the same day shows a complete disregard for consumers and for the motor sales industry and will not be tolerated,” Mr Bauer said.

"The Queensland Office of Fair Trading takes compliance seriously and will hold to account unscrupulous traders who operate outside of their obligations.”

The OFT encourages consumers who have purchased goods or services from a business but have not received them to approach the trader for a refund in the first instance. If this is unsuccessful, they are encouraged to lodge a complaint with the OFT at www.qld.gov.au/fairtrading or call 13 QGOV (13 74 68).