Mother $18,500 out of pocket after buying wrecked Australian car
A safe family wagon was all mother Sacha Perry wanted but instead she's been left $18,500 out of pocket and with an unsafe car to boot.
The Auckland mother of two took out a loan so she could invest in a three year-old Mazda 6, bought from car dealer Mukesh Chand, trading under the name Carconnection, in a Trade Me sale.
The single mother wanted a safe, reliable vehicle to transport her two children in, and in a series of emails presented to the Motor Vehicle Disputes Tribunal, Chand assured Perry the car hadn't suffered any damage as a result of an accident.
To be sure, Perry paid an extra $150 for it to be assessed by the AA which noted a few minor faults, but didn't pick up anything major.
*Australia sends written off cars to NZ
Two months later, after seeing an article that revealed 60 per cent of Australian imports were statutory write-offs, she sought further information about the vehicle on a New Zealand Transport Agency register set up to identify imports.
She was horrified to discover not only was the vehicle a write-off, it had been extensively damaged after a flood in Sydney.
The car has electrical faults and rust damage and car assessor Karl Pemberton gave evidence that due to the water exposure there was a "high risk of future failure" of all the vehicle's electronics, and should be replaced immediately.
The car was assessed as only good for parts, and its salvage value was worth a maximum of $5000- significantly less than what Perry paid for it.
Although Chand denied he was a motor vehicle trader and therefore not subject to tribunal enforcement, the tribunal rejected that and ruled he had misled and deceived Perry.
It ordered he return Perry's money and take the car back within 10 days.
Two months on from that ruling Perry is yet to receive a cent, with Chand claiming he can't afford to pay her back.
Chand told a bailiff with a warrant to seize property that he has no money, Perry said.
"He said I have no business, I have no job, I'm living in my car. (But) where does that leave me? The bailiff said there's nothing he can do. He's just got off scot free."
In the meantime, because the purchase is legally void, Perry is unable to sell the car on to try and recoup some money.
"The court system is flawed in that I have no sensible options to take to resolve this," she said. " I am trapped with a vehicle I am not comfortable driving and have concerns for it's safety."
Automobile Association consumer issues spokesman Phil Collings said it wasn't unheard of that adjudicator rulings went unheeded or ignored.
It raised the question of the ability of the tribunal to enforce its decisions, he said.
"Once this decision has been made by the adjudicator, how is it enforced? The courts are saying you're required to pay this or do this and if they say no I can't be bothered...there's very little (Perry) can do. The police aren't interested."
If it was clear the seller wasn't going to retrieve the car he advised Perry to seek legal advice if she wanted to sell the car on.
AA motoring services manager Stella Stocks said the pre inspection wouldn't necessarily have picked up on the water damage because when vehicles are imported into the country they go through a certification process where they are repaired to be roadworthy.
The water damage was "covered up, essentially," she said. However a vehicle history report would have uncovered the damage, and Australian imports came with a Consumer Information Notice (CIN) which also would have detailed its faults.
Dealers were required to make the CIN available to buyers, but Chand hadn't.
According to the Ministry of Justice Perry can file an attachment order which means if Chand receives a benefit or earns any income the courts can take a small portion of it, however it could take years for that to accumulate to the amount owed.
The Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment confirmed it had received a complaint about Chand and warned him for operating as an unregistered motor dealer.
Dealers could only be banned from the traders register if they failed to comply with two court orders, a spokesperson said.
Chand didn't respond to requests for comment.