Consumer Affairs mulling new regulations for auto industry

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The Competition and Consumer Affairs Commission (CCAC) in a bid to standardise the auto industry is now conducting research to implement, among other things, the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) regulations which will allow customers better deals when making a vehicular purchase at a dealer.

This comes in light of several ‘unfair’ terms and conditions which are allowed in present agreements between dealers and persons interested in vehicles.

Consumer Affairs Officer, Feyona Austin-Paul while responding to a question from this publication revealed that the auto industry continues to account for the most outstanding value of complaints received by the sector.

In fact, it happens to be the second most prevalent complaint that the Commission received during 2018.

Austin-Paul explained, “There are a number of areas which we have been addressing (and) we’ve done intensive research in this industry and we had a lot of setbacks for auto dealers over the past few years. We have made progress I would say because the complaints have decreased”.

It was here that she pointed out that the Commission has been exploring several options to standardize the sector.

“It’s not one approach, the standardization of the sector, CARICOM has a draft regulation that we want to implement here (and) we are working with the Bureau of Standards to get the standards done and then we will have to have a copy of the regulations for used vehicles,” the officer asserted.

In addition to this, she reported that the CCAC conducted research on the pre-inspection mechanism which is now being used more frequently by persons who are seeking to make a purchase.

Austin-Paul pointed out, “With ongoing research in the industry we are trying to ensure that our suppliers are aware of what they should do and the repercussions”.

Among the things that are likely to bring order in this sector was a standardised contract for all auto dealers or a revised hire purchase agreement.

In September of 2018, the Chairman of the Commission Ronald Burch-Smith made the call for same.

“One of the things about the auto industry is that many of the dealers offer payment terms (and) the contracts aren’t standard and they are sometimes unfair…I think one of the things that would make a big difference is a revised hire purchase agreement that gives clearer provisions and maybe set standard terms so that everyone is regulated by the same terms,” Burch-Smith who is an Attorney-at-Law stated.

This is likely to bring order in that all auto dealers will be required to offer the same Terms of Reference to customers, which most would be familiar with.

INews was informed that while some dealers would be lenient with its customers who are unable to meet their due dates for installments, others would anxiously await the opportunity to repossess the vehicles.

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