Ontarians searching for a used car online must beware of curbsiders
(NC) -- Make sure you don't get duped by a curbsider when shopping for a used car online, says OMVIC (Ontario Motor Vehicle Industry Council), the province's motor vehicle sales regulator.
Curbsiders are unlicensed dealers who often pose as private sellers. The vehicles they sell are often accident-damaged, misrepresented or odometer-tampered.
A recent survey commissioned by OMVIC found that when Ontarians are shopping for a used car they go to the web first. Results from the survey of 800 Ontario used car buyers found:
• 40 per cent visited a dealer website;
• 34 per cent visited an automobile-specific classified (e.g., carpages.ca, autotrader.ca); and
• 23 per cent relied on other online classifieds (e.g., Kijiji, Craigslist).
Research from the Used Car Dealers Association (UCDA) last year found that almost one-third (29 per cent) of vehicle ads on online sites were placed by curbsiders. Would-be buyers are often exposed to curbsiders without even knowing it.
Unfortunately there is little recourse for consumers who buy this way. There is no consumer protection legislation governing private transactions – causing grief for those who fall victim to vehicle sales predators.
But, when buying a vehicle from an Ontario-registered dealer, purchasers benefit from consumer protection including:
• All-in price advertising with no hidden fees;
• Mandatory full disclosure of a vehicle's past use, history and condition;
• Cancellation or rescission rights if specified information is not disclosed; and
• Access to the Motor Vehicle Dealers Compensation Fund.
Equally alarming, OMVIC's recent research found that consumers may be willing to forgo those safeguards. Only 40 per cent said they would have bought from a registered dealer rather than privately if they had known about those protections.
“Car buyers need to become more informed and understand when they are – and aren't – protected,” says Terry O'Keefe, Manager of Communications for OMVIC. “When you consider that curbsiders increasingly seek their prey online, consumers need to consider the risks they take when buying privately.”
Only a tiny percentage of those surveyed believed that they had contact with a curbsider or experienced their typical behaviours. “But everything we know about curbsiders through our regulatory enforcement and field work says they're out there,” O'Keefe points out. “This means, buyer beware.”
Before you buy your next used vehicle, don't just surf the online classifieds blindly. Become informed and learn how to spot common curbsider behaviours at BuyWithConfidence.ca.