Is Your Car Purchase Haunting You? Think You Might Have Been Slimes? Who Ya Gonna Call?
Well probably not Doctors Venkman, Stantz and Spengler; though knowing where to find help may seem just as allusive as the spectres they busted.
uth be told, who you can call, depends entirely upon whom you bought your vehicle from. “If the consumer bought from a registered dealer and needs help, he or she should call OMVIC for assistance,” explains Terry O’Keefe, Director of Communications and Education for OMVIC, the provincial vehicle sales regulator. “If they bought privately, they’ll unfortunately need to call their lawyer.”
Established in 1997 OMVIC’s mandate is to protect consumers and foster a fair and open marketplace. They accomplished this via a number of different initiatives and strategies including registration (all dealers and salespeople must be registered), inspections,investigations/prosecutions, consumer awareness/education, and complaint handling. Any consumer who purchases or leases from a registered dealer and encounters a problem can utilize OMVIC’s free complaint handling service.
In 2014 OMVIC complaint handlers negotiated the return of $875,700 to consumers; and that amount does not include the hundreds of thousands of dollars in repairs or vehicle exchanges the team negotiated. “While OMVIC doesn’t have the authority to compel a dealer to return money or take back a car (only the courts have such authority), OMVIC’s Complaints and Inquiries Team is very successful when it comes to finding amicable solutions to most problems.”
Despite the team’s success, many consum-ers still don’t know who to turn to for help. According to a recent survey, 86 percent of Ontarians realize dealers have to be registered; but only about one third of them know OMVIC is that regulator.
“Fewer still realize that if they buy privately they’re not protected by OMVIC, Ontario’s consumer protection laws or by the Motor Vehicle Dealers Compensation Fund”; a Fund that will reimburse consumers who suffer a financial loss as a result of a transaction with a registered dealer up to $45,000.
“OMVIC takes its responsibility to protect consumers very seriously,” says O’Keefe, point-ing to the results of charges and discipline cases posted on the OMVIC website. “And while we don’t tell consumers to buy from dealers or not to buy privately, we do want them to be better educated and to understand when they’re pro-tected and when they’re not.” Because that can determine who ya gonna call about a ghostly car problem in need of busting.
To learn more about OMVIC’s Complaints and Inquiries Team visit omvic.ca or call 1-800-943-6002 x 5105.