Toronto, ON, June 23, 2020 – Ontario’s Motor Vehicle Sales Regulator, OMVIC recommends consumers looking to purchase a vehicle during COVID- 19, buy from a registered dealer.
Currently, most of the province’s more than 8,000 registered dealerships are fully up and running and following health and safety protocols as mandated by the Ontario government.
Over the next few weeks, OMVIC CEO/Registrar John Carmichael will be visiting several dealerships across the GTA. He will talk to the dealers and salespersons to get an understanding of how the businesses have been impacted by COVID-19.
Buying a vehicle privately during the pandemic can present significant challenges: from maintaining physical distancing to ensuring a vehicle is safe and sanitized.
And then there is the additional danger posed by curbsiders, unlicensed and illegal dealers, who prey on unsuspecting consumers by posing as private sellers.
Over the past few months, OMVIC has received complaints from customers who purchased vehicles privately, only to later learn the seller was a curbsider and that they were kept in the dark about their vehicle’s real history.
“A car is one of the major purchases you will make in your life,” noted Carmichael. “It’s important then that the purchase comes with a peace-of-mind and an assurance that, during a health crisis, your health and safety needs will be fully met. More importantly, buying from an OMVIC-registered dealer will give consumers significant rights. This includes the right to full disclosure of a vehicle’s past-use, history and condition and access to the Motor Vehicle Dealers Compensation Fund.”
When 51-year-old Roxy (not her real name), a GTA resident, reached out to a private seller on an online marketplace to inquire about the car he was selling, she did not know she was transacting with a curbsider. Roxy paid $4,500 but discovered a few months later that the odometer of the car had been rolled-back.
OMVIC’s investigation revealed the curbsider had duped 11 other customers.
“Curbsiders often sell vehicles that are undisclosed rebuilt wrecks or odometer-tampered,” Carmichael says. "And we have recently seen a significant increase in the number of vehicles with rolled-back odometers sold by curbsiders. Please educate yourself because an educated customer is an empowered consumer.”
In 2019, OMVIC’s investigators laid 428 charges against 39 alleged curbsiders.
When consumers consider the dangers posed by COVID-19 and curbsiders, it is clear, choosing a registered dealer is the "safer way to buy."
The Motor Vehicle Dealers Act requires all vehicle dealers and salespeople to be registered with OMVIC. Curbsiders are illegal, unlicensed dealers. Just as curbsiders commonly misrepresent themselves—often posing as private sellers, many of the vehicles they sell are also misrepresented.
While curbsiders commonly pose as private sellers, some sell from small automotive-related businesses like repair centres or body shops. If a consumer is unsure whether a business selling vehicles is actually registered, they should conduct a search on OMVIC’s website, or ask to see the seller’s OMVIC licence. Consumers can also other access resources such as “How to Spot a Curbsider” on omvic.ca.
OMVIC (Ontario Motor Vehicle Industry Council) administers and enforces the Motor Vehicle Dealers Act (MVDA) on behalf of the Ministry of Government and Consumer Services. OMVIC maintains a fair and informed vehicle sales marketplace by regulating dealers and salespersons, regularly inspecting Ontario's 8,000 dealerships and 30,000 salespeople, maintaining a complaint line for consumers and conducting investigations and prosecutions (or discipline proceedings) of industry misconduct and illegal sales (curbsiding). OMVIC is also responsible for administering the Motor Vehicle Dealers Compensation Fund on behalf of its Board of Trustees.
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Senior Communications Officer