Auckland motor vehicle trader BNZ JP Euro Auto Parts has been fined $67,500 for misrepresenting consumers’ rights under the Consumer Guarantees Act 1993 (CGA) and for failing to provide Consumer Information Notices (CINs).
BNZ JP Euro had earlier pleaded guilty to six representative charges under the Fair Trading Act 1986, mostly relating to the sale of 77 used motor vehicles between August 2017 and December 2018.
BNZ JP Euro operates a car and truck wrecker business selling automotive parts in Papakura. At the time of the offending, it was also selling low-priced used motor vehicles, which were advertised on Facebook. The firm also offered vehicles for sale on an “as is where is” basis and asked purchasers to sign an agreement acknowledging there was “no warranty implied or given within it”.
“Those statements were misleading, because they suggested that consumers had no rights if something went wrong with the vehicle when in fact the CGA applies to used motor vehicles. Traders cannot evade their responsibilities to provide guarantees and remedies under the CGA by using phrases such as ‘as is where is’,” said Commerce Commission Chair Anna Rawlings.
Where consumers buy vehicles from traders, rather than private sellers, the purchase will always be covered by statutory guarantees, including that the vehicle is of acceptable quality and complies with its description. Any attempt by traders to mislead consumers about their rights is likely to breach the Fair Trading Act.”
Rawlings said: “this trader’s conduct had real impacts on its customers, some of whom felt they had no redress or remedy for faulty vehicles they bought from BNZ JP Euro and that issues were for them alone to deal with. In four cases we know of, consumers purchased vehicles that required substantial repairs. In at least two of those cases the cost was nearly the same as the purchase price of the vehicle itself.”
BNZ JP Euro never offered CINs with the vehicles it sold. BNZ JP Euro pleaded guilty to one representative charge relating to failing to display CINs for 16 vehicles sold between October and December 2018.
It is an infringement only offence and no conviction can be entered for it.
Other similar cases
The Commerce Commission has taken a number of similar prosecutions in recent years:
- In July 2019 2 Cheap Cars Limited was fined $438,000 including for its use of “warranty waiver” documents
- In July 2018 Vehicle Logistics Limited was fined $75,000 over misrepresenting consumers’ rights when selling used vehicles online
- In December 2018 retailer Noel Leeming was fined $200,000 for misleading consumers about their rights under the CGA
- In October 2018 Auckland car dealership $1 Reserve Cars and its owner Adam Cooper were fined a total of $12,000 including for misrepresenting CGA rights by stating “As this is an auction for a complete package of second hand parts the [CGA] does NOT apply.”
All used motor vehicles must have an accurate and complete Consumer Information Notice when displayed for sale by a used motor vehicle trader. If buying online, the CIN must be displayed by the advertisement for that vehicle.