Wed | Sep 20, 2017

Used by a used-car dealer

Published:Sunday | August 31, 2014 | 8:00 AM
A mechanic surveys teh engine bay of a vehicle
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Melissa Salmon, Contributor

The automotive industry is said to be lucrative in Jamaica, with many sellers and even more buyers.

I recently accompanied a close relative to purchase a used vehicle, based on our budget. We searched a few automotive lots and decided to purchase from a used-car dealer on Molynes Road in St Andrew.

We spotted a Toyota Rav4, did the routine test drive and took the mechanic's advice (mechanic #1).

"It's a good vehicle, I can service the vehicle - change out the oils, etc., but eventually, it will need some front-end parts for a smoother ride. Just try bawl down di price so you can have some loose cash to fix it up," he said.

We saw indications of what turned out to be electrical problems, but took it for granted that the seller would rectify all those problems before allowing us to leave his lot. We brought these issues to his attention and negotiated a price that seemed fair at the time.

The vehicle was sold as is, where is.

It was washed and detailed; we were then instructed to return on the following business day to have the company's electrician check on the vehicle.

Over the weekend, we decided that because it was going to be lady-driven - and on most days out of town - we would have a recommended mechanic (mechanic #2) change out the worn parts.

We bought new shocks, ball joints, a strut mount, engine mounts, coil pack, relays, fuses and even new brake light - all of this plus the mechanics' and electricians' fees.

HAD TO CLEAR ARREARS

We had to bring the road licence up to date by paying off the arrears and had to go Montego Bay, St James, as the title had been stamped there. We spent approximately $250,000 to get the Rav4 in good driving condition.

On the following business day, we could not get ahold of the dealer, so we solicited an electrician (electrician #1). He worked his magic and brought us above water by repairing most of the electrical faults.

We eventually got in touch with the dealer and were told initially that he would "sort out everything". But when the vehicle was handed over to his electrician (electrician #2), we were then informed we were responsible for buying the required parts and for paying that electrician.

I thought to myself, "I have never witnessed such a cruel act."

They all had us as women going around in circles, similar to medieval court jesters, having a good laugh at our expense. If I had a worst enemy, I would never do the injustice of recommending them to that automotive dealer.

Filing a police report carries little to no weight, as it would be a civil matter with a payout of $200,000.

The major problems are now solved and the vehicle is in excellent driving condition. It brings to mind the C. S. Lewis' famous quote: "Experience: that most brutal of teachers. But you learn, my God, do you learn!"

This has been an awakening experience of how a happy moment went awry in a few days. I do not proclaim to be an expert in automotives; in fact, I am far from that. But I share my experience in hope that no other person will suffer similarly, especially in these economic times when every dollar counts.

The thrill and excitement of buying a new vehicle was lost for us. It is for the unaware Jamaican to learn from our mistakes, so as to never get caught in the grave situation we faced.

Buyers, beware! Don't get caught in a raw deal.