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A solo mum with two young special-needs sons is distraught after buying a car on Trade Me that turned out to be riddled with rust and had an odometer that had been wound back by 130,000km.
Kerryn Hailwood, 24, of Upper Hutt, says she was duped into buying the 1992 Honda Accord by a seller who refused to let her inspect it until it was dark and raining.
"More often than not I've ended up in tears talking about it," said Hailwood, who is on an invalid carer's benefit.
Sons Anthony, 4, and Seth, 6, are both intellectually disabled, on the autism spectrum and suffer a raft of chronic medical conditions. Anthony has a hole in the heart and is due to undergo surgery soon, while his brother suffers periodic seizures and has an eye disorder that can result in retinal detachment.
Hailwood needs a reliable car to ferry the boys to and from appointments, mainly at Wellington Hospital. She bought the car believing it needed only a rear lightbulb. She has since found that structural rust in a pillar means it is all but unwarrantable, as she cannot afford the repair costs.
"Everything I have gets chewed up with medical and travel expenses," she said. "Their father's not in the picture, so there's no child support."
Trade Me said yesterday it was investigating the Lower Hutt seller, who is thought to be operating under multiple aliases on the site, and on other online auctions.
Hailwood paid $950 in cash for the car in a transaction completed independently of Trade Me. She called the seller last week to get her money back, but was greeted with abuse.
"He said, ‘Why don't you go f . . . yourself and call the police so they can tell you you're wasting your time'."
When The Dominion Post contacted the suspected seller, he said Hailwood was "full of shit" and hung up.
Hailwood said the seller was wilfully obstructive and cagey. She did everything she could to check out the condition of the car, which she thought was a reliable runner with low kilometres.
Trade Me spokesman Jon Duffy said the case was concerning. The company's trust and safety staff would review it and take further action if appropriate.
ANATOMY OF A LEMON
The Trade Me listing said the Honda Accord was: A 1993 model, in good condition Had done only 157,000km "Last owner was my father who owned it for 17 years; it's been in the family all its life" After Kerryn Hailwood paid $950 for it, she found: Widespread structural rust An odometer that had been wound back 130,000km A loose front bumper that had been haphazardly taped on Registration papers that showed it was a 1992 model.
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- The Dominion Post