ConsumerTalk with Wendy Knowler

Commission to charge dodgy CT car salesman after failing to reimburse customer

The owner of a used car dealership in Cape Town is in hot water after failing to comply with a landmark order from the National Consumer Tribunal.

Dealership owner Chris Pretorius could be held in contempt of court and face further criminal charges for not reimbursing a client for a dud car sold to her.

Hanlie van Lill purchased a previously-owned Volkswagen Passat from Western Car Sales dealership in Kraaifontein in December 2015.

A long road to justice

She bought the car for R61 000. Three 3 days later the gears wouldn’t engage properly.

Two days after that, the car broke down completely and was driven back to the dealership on a truck, at her cost.

Pay back the money

Van Lill took the matter to the Motor Industry Ombud, which ruled in her favour, after Pretorius refused to take any responsibility for the car.

But the dealership still ignored the ruling and the case was referred to the National Consumer Commission (NCC).

On 4 September 2017, the National Consumer Tribunal found Western Car Sales guilty of prohibited conduct.

The tribunal found that clauses in Van Lill’s contract when she bought the car were in direct contravention of the Consumer Protection Act (CPA).

The dealership was ordered to refund van Lill in full by 26 September 2017 and pay a further R100 000 to the National Revenue fund within 30 business days as a fine.

To date, no money has been paid.

Back door deals

While dealership claims to have been liquidated, Pretorius still seems to be trading cars on his Facebook page.

NCC spokesperson Trevor Hattingh says non-compliance with the judgment is a criminal offence.

Meanwhile, van Lill is left frustrated and forced to rent another vehicle while the dud car lies unused in her yard.

It seems like it's a losing battle and the owner of the business is getting away with everything. The whole court case and judgment is just paper. I'm feeling frustrated.

Hanlie van Lill

Failure to abide by or comply with Tribunal judgment is a criminal offence.

Trevor Hattingh, NCC spokesperson

We have now obtained their details and we are pursuing the matter. The prosecutor concerned is at work on this case.

Trevor Hattingh, NCC spokesperson

They are now trading via Facebook and other means. We are also further investigating this.

Trevor Hattingh, NCC spokesperson

The company has not been liquidated. Clearly these are desperate attempts to avoid paying the client.

Trevor Hattingh, NCC spokesperson

We have to make an example. A precedent has to be set for other dealerships out there.

Trevor Hattingh, NCC spokesperson

All efforts to reach Chris Pretorius were unsuccessful.

Take a listen to the case during the Consumer Talk feature with Wendy Knowler:

Got a consumer case you need help resolving?

Email: consumer@knowler.co.za, put Cape Talk in the subject line, followed by the issue e.g. cellphone contract dispute.


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