UCDA Disputes APA/W5 Used Car Study

TORONTO, March 8 /CNW/ - The Used Car Dealers Association of Ontario (UCDA) questions the findings of the Automobile Protection Agency's (APA) 2009 Used Car Study. "It may make for good TV, but does little to inform consumers," says Warren Barnard, the UCDA's Legal Services Director.

The study uses arbitrary standards that fail to take into account industry practice and Ontario law. As well, the 16 dealers APA chose to visit are by no means a valid or meaningful cross-section of the dealer community - over 1,000 strong in Toronto alone.

The study accuses all but two of the 16 dealers of charging excessive fees. The fact that several of these dealers offered a wide range of quality vehicles at good prices and properly disclosed important facts, such as past accidents, was ignored. APA gave a failing grade for the simple reason that it didn't like the amount of fees being charged.

"Added fees and surcharges are a common component of consumer purchases across many retail sectors and the car industry is no exception," says Bob Pierce, UCDA Director of Member Services. "Extra fees are routinely charged by banks, airlines and on entertainment ticket sales, which, as a percentage of the purchase price, far exceed any fees charged by dealers," he added.

In Ontario, consumers benefit from some of the strictest disclosure laws in the country - and have for decades. In addition, recent changes to rules governing motor vehicle dealers have further enhanced the consumer protection Ontario car buyers have come to expect.

Ontario law requires dealers in the province to fully disclose fees in a written contract before the customer agrees to purchase the vehicle. Each of the 16 sample dealers in the APA study disclosed fees in contracts. In effect, the APA study ignored many acknowledged positive findings and branded a dealer as a total "failure" if fees did not satisfy APA's random criteria.

Dealers must disclose a myriad of information when selling a vehicle and now must include all fees in advertised prices. Further, consumers now have unprecedented cancellation rights should certain required disclosures not be made.

"The reality is Ontario consumers can be more confident than ever about purchasing a used vehicle from a dealer. Consumers today can expect far more specific information about the vehicle they are buying - and have far more rights and protection if something should go wrong," Barnard said.

The UCDA represents 4,500 registered motor vehicle dealers across Ontario and offers industry education and free consumer dispute resolution services.

For further information: Warren Barnard or Bob Pierce at (416) 231-2600 or (800) 268-2598