Photos via MEC
More than a week after its main showroom was closed by government inspectors in Qatar for commercial fraud, Domasco Honda has admitted that it performed “very minor repairs” on vehicles that were then sold to unknowing customers.
The dealership was one of three local auto company showrooms that were recently closed for apparently selling new cars to customers without telling them they had been repaired before sale.
In a statement, Domasco Honda said it had fixed scratches and dents incurred in its stock yard on several vehicles without informing the buyers.
It said 11 customers were affected, all of whom have been contacted and had their concerns and issues “fully resolved.”
The dealership added the incidents occurred “due to lapses in our internal process” and that it had “initiated remedial action” to ensure it fully complied with local regulations when it re-opens at the end of this month.
On Dec. 31, the Ministry of Economy and Commerce shut down Domasco Honda’s main showroom at TV Roundabout after alleging that the dealer had been selling some of its imported Japanese cars involved in accidents as brand-new after repairing them.
It was the third dealership to be shuttered by the ministry in a span of less than three weeks.
In mid-December, authorities made similar fraud allegations against the Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep and Ram dealership on Al Matar Street, near the old airport, as well as the Nissan dealership on Salwa Road, near Ramada Junction.
While many residents applauded the ministry’s crackdown in defense of consumers, others questioned whether it was accurate to suggest that the vehicles had been involved in an “accident.”
One commentator on Doha News said:
“For me, I see the word “accident” and imagine a car at the side of the road that has been hit by another car – not a small scratch or dent that happened because somebody opened the door a little too wide in a confined space.”
However, authorities appear to be planning on keeping up their pressure. The Peninsula reported that the consumer protection department is expected to “continue and widen its campaign” against “unethical” auto dealers.
Inspectors with the Ministry of Economy and Consumer Affairs, as well as Baladiya – the Ministry of Municipality and Urban Planning (MMUP) – have recently started to publicize raids and regulatory sanctions against businesses on a near-weekly basis.
There’s been no formal announcement of a stepped-up campaign. However, consumer-related violations cited by municipalities and published by the Ministry of Development Planning and Statistics appear to be rising.
The number of violations related to beauty salons, hygiene and food climbed from a low of 415 in March – the first month figures were disclosed – to 1,652 in November.
Last February, stricter penalties were introduced for restaurants and food outlets caught breaching safety regulations. The MMUP has since shut down scores of eateries, typically publishing photos of the violations.