April 30, 2007

APA reports results of used car dealer investigation; 58 per cent earn failing grade

Montreal, Quebec – The Automobile Protection Association (APA) has released the results of an undercover investigation of used-car dealerships in Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver. Posing as ordinary consumers, APA’s mystery shoppers visited 57 car dealers to look for a used vehicle. Funding for the project was provided by the Office of Consumer Affairs at Industry Canada; the visits were recorded by the CTV program W FIVE on hidden camera.

Overall, 32 of the 55 used car lots visited earned a failing grade, while two unlicensed “curbsider” dealers, who were retailing vehicles from their driveways, also failed. Used car dealers were evaluated on the accuracy of their advertising and their verbal representations, as well as the conditions of the vehicles offered for sale.

APA recommends having a vehicle inspected before purchase; some dealers in Toronto and especially dealers in Vancouver tried to make it very difficult for the APA shoppers to have a vehicle inspected prior to purchase.

The APA says that in Vancouver, and to a lesser extent in Toronto, dealers misrepresented prior collision damage as “cosmetic” or did not mention it at all. Advertising in Vancouver and Toronto often neglected to mention the amounts charged for extras that should be included, such as filling out the contract, or inspecting and repairing the vehicle for sale. The APA also says that most dealers in Toronto and Vancouver who offered an extra-cost warranty from independent warranty companies misrepresented the real level of protection offered, or omitted important information.

For a list of inspected dealers and their results, visit www.apa.ca.

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