Browsing 'cars' News

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Abdullah Al-Shackarchi/Flickr

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When Sana Fathima bought a 2008 Honda Accord on Qatar Living three years ago, she thought she was getting a good deal.

The vehicle only had a mileage of 70,000km. And the inspection company she took the car to said it was operating well.

But several months later, she had to go to a service center after encountering problems with almost every part of the car, including its engine, brakes and wipers.

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Amara U/Flickr

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This is when she discovered that her car had been brought to the service center one year ago. At the time, the mileage was 100,000+ km.

The service center also informed Fathima that the vehicle had belonged to a car rental company, though the seller had told her it was his wife’s.

According to online complaints, such experiences do not happen rarely in Qatar’s fairly unregulated second-hand car market.

However, many people are unsure about their rights or what to do when such fraud takes place.

Police questions

Fathima told Doha News that she chose not to go to the police because she didn’t feel comfortable with the idea. Instead, she notified the seller of the car:

“I called the guy directly and warned him that if he did not buy the car, we will complain to the police. He finally bought the car back but at a lower cost since we used it for over a year by then.

However, a friend who also found himself in a similar incident last week did go to authorities, she added.

Speaking to Doha News, the man, who asked not to be named, said he had bought what he thought was a family’s car.

He had conducted a computer check on the Kia Rio model that revealed no major issues.

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Brian Williams/Flickr

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But later, he found paperwork inside the vehicle that proved it had also belonged to a rental company.

The mileage was recorded as 86,000km in May 2016, though when the car was sold, it read 30,000km.

However, when he went to the traffic department, he was told to go to the police station. After searching online for one and visiting it, the police there told him to go to a station closer to his home.

But he remains unsure how to locate this office.

“I wish I knew these problems were so common here and what the exact procedure was to go about such issues,” Fathima said.

Legal recourse

According to local attorneys, a second-hand car buyer in Qatar who discovers that he/she has been duped does not need to go to the police since this is a civil and not a criminal offense.

Instead, he or she can file a legal case against the seller in court or by to contracting a lawyer.

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Speaking to Doha News, Abdelmoniem M. Abutiffa, a legal consultant at the Qatar International Law Firm, said:

“Though this issue is not addressed directly under Qatari law, if it happens here, there are provisions under Qatari Civil Law that address fraud and deception in general.”

He added that Article 455 of the Civil Code states that “if the sold item at the time of handover is found to have any defect that either lessens the value of the item or lessens the benefit of the sold item,” the buyer has two options:

  • Under Article 451, the buyer has the right to return the sold item and get back the price he paid plus compensation, as decided by the Court of First Instance; or
  • Under Article 134, the buyer has the right to declare the contract null and void if deception or lies were involved in making the sale.

If working with a lawyer, legal fees in the case would be determined by the cost of the car, Abutiffa added.

Prevention

Of course, not getting swindled in the first place is the ideal scenario.

Speaking to Doha News, Khalid A. Hashem, senior vice president of Car Maxx Services, offered this advice:

Get a comprehensive inspection done

Take the car to a center to conduct an overall inspection of the suspension and brake (preferably computer-aided), under-carriage and chassis.

Car being serviced at Autolab

Autolab

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This will indicate whether any major accidents occurred and offer body paint and engine quality assessments.

Such packages usually cost between QR250 (for standard sedans) to QR400-600 (for four-wheel and luxury cars).

Consider further testing

An additional test would be needed if you suspect that the mileage of the car has been “adjusted.”

This is called Body Control Module (BCM) testing, according to Dani Jose, Car Maxx’s chief inspector who has worked for the company for eight years.

He added, “Only in the case of US-made cars such as Jeep, Dodge and Chrysler can the BCM detect the actual mileage, even if there has been tampering, but in other cars, it will only show a ‘fault’ and will not say anything more specific.”

Be wary of scams

For its part, Qatar Living has posted a list of several other tips to help residents looking to buy a used car.

They include looking at the vehicle in the daylight to catch any scratches or dents, never give out personal or financial details online and remember that if a deal is too good to be true, it probably is.

Speaking to Doha News, QL senior editor Mohammed Noor said:

“While Qatar Living has been a boon for several residents in the country, some individuals persist on misusing the platform to swindle users.

Although we do not moderate or facilitate transactions between buyers and sellers, we do provide precautional tips to users through our forums and social media channels. We also take down fraudulent ads as soon as they are reported by other users.”

Thoughts?

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MEC/Twitter

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A new type of vehicle service center that is certified to maintain and repair all types of cars in Qatar has opened on Salwa Road this week.

Autolab, which is part of the Jaidah Group, provides car owners across the country a one-stop maintenance shop.

It specializes in two main areas: maintenance and auto repair services.

The former includes regular tuneups, transmission checks, oil and lubricants replacement, AC repair and aftermarket parts retail.

And in terms of auto repair, the facility will offer services for brakes and tires, light systems services, batteries, steering and charging system services and suspension.

Protecting warranties

Last year, the Ministry of Economy and Commerce ordered car dealers to relax warranties so that vehicle owners could seek service and repairs at any garages – provided these garages follow the proper technical specifications.

In a nod to this, Autolab said it is authorized to service all car brands in Qatar without affecting any warranty terms. This will allow vehicle owners to have a certified service for their car outside of specific dealerships, the center added in a statement.

Car being serviced at Autolab

Autolab

Car being serviced at Autolab

All those working at their facilities will bring high-tech skills, equipment and knowledge of various car brands to the service, Autolab said in a statement.

Speaking to Doha News, a spokesperson for the Jaidah Group said that it aims to ensure transparency in all services for the customer, as well as provide a “value-driven and friendly service.”

Following the opening of the Salwa Road facility on Sunday, Mohamed Jaidah, the executive director of Jaidah Group, said in a statement:

“Autolab’s objective is to increase the standard of car servicing in Qatar, driving a competitive market. Our customer-focused approach provides all car owner a comprehensive assessment and maintenance services in a one-stop shop, eliminating the hassle of visiting unauthorized garages.”

Autolab has also opened in Al Khor and is planning more facilities across Doha, with one opening near Landmark mall in September 2016.

Thoughts?

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Chantelle D'mello

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To help make service and repairs easier for car owners in Qatar, the Ministry of Economy and Commerce (MEC) has established nine new warranty clauses that must be followed by local dealerships.

The clauses apply during the sale of new and near-new cars, and outline an owner’s rights in getting a vehicle serviced or repaired at any garage without voiding the terms of their warranty.

A total of 22 dealers, representing 48 brands, have given written confirmation that they will comply with the rules, in accordance with law No. 19 of 2006, the Protection of Competition and Prevention of Monopolistic Practices, MEC said in a statement in Arabic.

They are:

  • Teyseer Motors – Suzuki;
  • Taleb Trading – Daihatsu;
  • Q-Auto – Volkswagen and Audi;
  • Domasco – Volvo, Honda and GAC Motor;
  • Ibn Ajayan – Skoda and Seat;
  • Almana Motors – Ford, Peugeot and Lincoln;
  • Al Jaida Automotive – Chevrolet;
  • Mannai Corporation – GMC, Cadillac and Subaru;
  • Abdullah Abdulghani & Bros – Toyota and Lexus;
  • Alfardan automobiles – Jaguar, Land Rover, Rolls Royce, BMW, Mini, Maserati and Ferrari;
  • Alhamad Almana – Renault, Infiniti and Nissan;
  • United Cars Almana – Jeep, Chrysler and Dodge;
  • Qatar Motors – Mitsubishi and Fuso;
  • Al Boraq Automobiles – Porsche;
  • Nasser bin Khaled Automobiles – Mercedes Benz;
  • National Car Company – Mazda and Hyundai;
  • Al-Attiya Motors – KIA;
  • Al Naael Company – Citroen, Ssangyong;
  • Jaidah Heavy Equipment – Isuzu;
  • Al Hamad Automobiles Co – Chery, JAC Motors and TATA;
  • Al Wajba Motors – McLaren and Bentley; and
  • New Trade Engineering – Fiat and Alfa Romeo.

The new terms have been introduced to encourage car dealers to improve their performance and to become more competitive, while also raising standards of maintenance and repairs, the MEC said.

Car dealers were ordered to relax their warranty rules last summer. Previously, buyers could only undertake repairs and servicing at the main dealer or risk voiding their warranty.

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MEC/Twitter

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Saying this amounted to a monopoly, the MEC said at the time that dealers must “give vehicle owners the freedom to choose which shops do maintenance work and repair their cars.”

Dealers that don’t comply could incur a fine of up to QR5 million and confiscation of their profits, the MEC’s Committee for Competition Protection and Prevention of Monopolistic Practices warned in a statement issued in September.

The move followed customer complaints about high prices for servicing and repairs conducted at the main dealerships.

Nine-point plan

According to the new warranty terms, dealers must not include any restrictive clauses or vague terms that could limit customers’ choice of which garage to go to for repairs and servicing for a car within its warranty period.

Customers should be free to chose any garage, provided that they keep a receipt that shows repairs or servicing was carried out on time and according to the terms detailed by the car manufacturer.

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Bill Abbott/Flickr

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Additionally, car owners can choose to use oil, filters or other spare parts that are of the same specification as the original parts, as long as they are accredited for use by the vehicle’s manufacturer.

Spare parts that don’t meet the manufacturer’s technical specifications can void that part of the warranty, but not the coverage for other parts of the car.

And, in line with current practice in the US, dealers must prove that damage occurred in a car as a result of maintenance work that didn’t comply with technical requirements before taking any action on the warranty.

Dealers also cannot incorporate the cost of repairs or servicing into the sale price of a car, unless as part of a promotion that has been pre-approved by authorities, and any changes to dealers’ warranty booklets must be submitted to the Competition Protection Department for acceptance.

The MEC warns customers who chose third-party garages to undertake services or repairs that they should keep all receipts, which should detail the job done and the date it was undertaken.

Car buyers are also encouraged to carefully read dealers’ warranty books to ensure they comply with the new terms.

Complaints can be lodged by calling the MEC’s hotline (16001), by emailing info@mec.gov.qa or through Twitter, @MEC_Qatar.

Raising confidence

The new rules aim to help improve customer confidence in Qatar’s automotive industry.

Late last year, the MEC found that Qatar residents were largely dissatisfied with the country’s car dealers.

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Amy Claxton/Flickr

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A poll of 4,000 residents conducted by the ministry found that people felt they are paying more for new cars and spare parts than those living in other countries in the Gulf. They also expressed little confidence in car dealers and service centers.

However, dealers have said that, contrary to perceptions, spare parts cost largely the same across all GCC states.

Subhash Joshi – the head of consulting firm Frost & Sullivan’s automotive department in the Middle East, said in an interview with bq magazine earlier this year:

“With open boundaries across the GCC, it is difficult to drive price differentiation at an overall level … The prices in Oman are slightly higher than UAE and KSA, but there is only a minimal difference and it is limited to a few auto part categories only.”

Thoughts?