South Canterbury man 'left with a lemon' after car swap goes wrong
A South Canterbury man suffering from cancer says he has been left with no vehicle to reach critical medical appointments after being "ripped off" when he swapped his car without checking its history.
Lindsay, who requested that his last name not be published, swapped his 2008 VE Holden Commodore SV6 for a 2003 Ford Explorer through social media.
Within 48 hours, he had discovered his new car was burdened with hidden debts, maintenance costs and repossession fees.
The incident has led to warnings from Consumer New Zealand to be vigilant when it comes to doing deals online.
Lindsay advertised his car for sale on his Facebook page about three weeks ago, as it had high mileage. He chose Facebook to avoid the added cost of listing it on other websites.
He said there was little interest in the car until someone offered to do a "straight swap" with him.
It seemed like a normal deal at first, but Lindsay later discovered his new car meant he had been saddled with debt.
Lindsay never took over the legal ownership of the Ford Explorer, but was told by finance company Avanti Finance there was hidden debt and he would be charged with repossession fees as he was currently in possession of the vehicle.
He said Avanti Finance would not disclose how much money was owed on the vehicle or how much the repossession fee would be due to confidentiality laws. He was also not told when the car would be repossessed.
He said Avanti Finance agreed to swap the securities over, but it was unclear if he would still be left out of pocket.
"But I'm left with a lemon and he's left with a good car."
Lindsay said the car looked fine at first, but once he brought the vehicle home he noticed its security system was missing, and he also believes it has "dodgy" brakes.
He said when you drove it, it felt like "driving on ice" - leaving him too afraid to drive it.
That left Lindsay with no way to get to medical appointments resulting from his cornea surgery, which he required after going through chemotherapy.
He felt like he had "lost everything".
"You lose faith in humanity, it's sad."
Lindsay was diagnosed with testicular cancer in 2015 and had cornea surgery in his right eye in February this year as a direct result of his chemotherapy.
He said his wife now had to take a day off work once a week to take him to appointments in Christchurch as he feels the car is "not safe to drive".
Sergeant Nerida Manson, of Timaru, said the issue was a civil matter.
"If we are in a position to assist with cases like this we would but we can't always assist," she said.
She said police had gone above and beyond with the matter, but because an agreement had been made between the two parties, it was not a criminal matter.
"A deal was done."
Lindsay said police had been "more than helpful" with the situation.
Lindsay said he did a "deal that went wrong", but hoped that by talking about his experience with private selling other people would not find themselves in the same position.
"I just felt so embarrassed."
Consumer New Zealand chief executive Sue Chetwin said people considering doing a "swap" should always do their research beforehand.
"The big lesson learnt from this was to do the research ...and if it looks too good to be true then it probably is."
She said the problem with the Facebook market was that you had no right of redress.
Unlike other sites such as Trade Me, with Facebook there was no company assistance available, she said.
He really had been "stuck with what he was stuck with", she said.
Chetwin said people should always do their research on the car and owner history and to never let anything go unless they were completely satisfied with it.
It was also important to always have a proper exchange of papers, she said.