'The little tricks are over'

Goverment moves to stop tampering with age, mileage of used cars; dealers not happy

BY KIMONE FRANCIS
Observer staff reporter
francisk@jamaicaobserver.com

Wednesday, January 24, 2018



GOVERNMENT is moving to clamp down on used car dealers who tamper with motor vehicles before selling them to customers.

The disclosure was made at a press conference yesterday by Minister of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries Karl Samuda at his St Lucia Avenue ministry in New Kingston.

According to the minister, he has received numerous complaints from consumers about the vehicles they have purchased from dealers. However, he did not disclose the numbers.

Samuda, who was addressing members of the media and other stakeholders from the ministry, said that effective February 1, no used vehicle will be allowed into the country without a pre- shipment certificate.

“First of all, the regulations dictate that no vehicle shall be imported into the island of Jamaica without obtaining an import permit from the Trade Board. Previously, what happened is that we would import the vehicle on the strength of the information and documentation given to us by the importer. But what we found was a series of incidents where persons importing one particular model, we found that there were a lot of discrepancies between the age of the vehicle stated particularly, and the mileage,” Samuda explained.

He further explained that the odometers would reflect a hardly used vehicle, which would therefore attract a much higher price. The minister said that on inspection and after careful examination, the Trade Board came to the conclusion that because of the number of incidents that have occurred in this regard, something would have to be done about it.

“…We visited other countries and looked at their regulations and sourced organisations that were prepared to assist us with pre-shipment inspections, and we put it out to the general public for them to bid and to examine what the auctions were. The chosen person or group/company that is going to undertake this pre-shipment inspection, was selected and one of the factors that contributed significantly to their selection was the fact that, having examined the vehicle, and determined the accuracy of the condition of the vehicle the exporter would then have no access to the vehicle and it was isolated and shipped directly to Jamaica,” he stated.

What this means is that the likelihood of [tampering] after the inspection is non-existent. Samuda noted that it was pointless to have the vehicle inspected and then returned to the exporter to be shipped to Jamaica.

“… It has been a lot of thought that has been put into this and we have now finalised all the preparatory work. It has been approved by the Cabinet. It's now a process and the order has been signed and we're all ready to go on the first of February,” the minister said.

He said also that the date for implementation has had to be moved up because he received information that there was beginning to be an accumulation of vehicles to be shipped to Jamaica.

“I suspect that that is in anticipation of the introduction of this regulation. So, in an effort to ensure that the consumers of Jamaica get the best possible deal, we felt it necessary to step up the pace and to have it introduced no later than the first of February.

“So anyone buying a motor vehicle and looking at the odometer and saying it has done 20,000 miles, we anticipate that through this introduction of this regulation and this process that that will be a genuine reflection of the mileage done by the vehicle.

“So you will need a certificate now from the pre-shipment inspectors, and when that is put together and brought in the car can be shipped, failing which, the car will not be permitted into the customs area of Jamaica,” said Samuda.

“How many times have you heard people say that they buy a 2007 vehicle and when they go to repair something they find out that it is a 2002? How many people you see buying a car 10 years old with 30,000 kilometres on it? So, those little tricks are over; they are over. The days of being able to pass them off on consumers as a deal is over. What you will be getting to buy is what the facts are, based on the pre-shipment inspection,” the minister insisted.

The Jamaica Used Car Dealers' Association, however, is not in support of the new regulation.

President Lynvale Hamilton told the Jamaica Observer yesterday that the association has never heard the complaints the minister shared at the press conference. He said that the minister has not communicated with the association.

“We were in a consultation meeting last year August and we were advised that before anything is done they would have contacted us and sort out the concerns that we have, because there are many.

“We're not saying that the Government can't do what they are doing, but there are policies that are conflicting and we have written to the minister and he has not responded as yet,” Hamilton said.

He told the Observer that the concerns include the Government “dictating” to the association what year the car should be and what mileage the car should have.

“Yet, if there is any discrepancy they are saying that we are responsible. Not under earth, not over earth, not around earth can that be possible. The abuse that we have been recipients of must stop. We're not taking what the minister is giving to us except they have made the necessary adjustment in the policies to reflect some semblance of fairness,” said Hamilton.

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