Unlicensed car dealers have been put on notice following a four-month investigation by the state’s consumer watchdog, Consumer and Business Services (CBS).
Business Services and Consumers Minister Gail Gago said CBS investigators conducted operations across the state from September to December 2014 to crack down on the sale of vehicles by ‘backyard’ and other unlicensed second-hand car dealers.
“During the operation, CBS investigators identified eight matters warranting prosecution or disciplinary action under the Second-hand Vehicle Dealers Act, ranging from trading without a license to trading from unregistered premises.
“This resulted in CBS securing the surrender of three second-hand vehicle dealer licences from dealers now involved in an ongoing criminal prosecution.
“Briefs of evidence against four other unlicensed dealers are currently being prepared, while a further case has been submitted to the Crown and is awaiting charges.”
Additionally, CBS investigators received written assurances from seven dealers that they would not repeat their offences, and delivered three warning letters for low-level breaches.
“These backyard dealers are selling multiple vehicles from their homes. They offer the consumer no warranty and the safety of the vehicles is often questionable.
“Unfortunately, there will always be a small number of dodgy car dealers who think they can flout the law and trade unlicensed and illegally.
During the investigation, CBS officers also assisted State and Federal law enforcement agencies in intelligence-gathering operations.
Ms Gago said South Australian consumers can generally feel confident when buying a second- hand car through licensed dealers, as the investigation found the overall level of compliance with the Act to be high.
“However, the same cannot be said when buying a second-hand car through backyarders.
“Vehicles are an expensive purchase and we want to ensure that both consumers and licensed traders are protected.
“We don’t want to see the actions of dodgy dealers tarnish the reputation of the vehicle sales industry,” Ms Gago said.
Motor Trade Association Chief Executive Officer Paul Unerkov said he was pleased with the enforcement outcomes achieved by CBS investigators.
“The MTA has and continues to ensure that consumers are protected when purchasing vehicles through our members,” Mr Unerkov said.
“The outcomes of this investigation will uphold the reputation of MTA members who adhere to our strict Code of Conduct and meet the legal requirements.
If consumers have any concerns about their interactions with unlicensed second-hand car dealers they are encouraged to contact CBS on 131 882.
Consumers can check whether a dealer is licensed by searching the CBS Licensing Public Register at http://pubreg.ocba.sa.gov.au/ or can visit the Personal Property Securities Register to view the history of a vehicle at www.ppsr.gov.au.