Errant used-car dealer 'back in business'

Errant used-car dealer 'back in business'

More than a month after reports of its errant activities came to light, used-car dealer Cars Today may have resurfaced.

It was put in the spotlight in February after more than 20 customers reported that the cars they bought were towed away by the company's creditor, Kenso Leasing, because Cars Today had failed to transfer ownership of the vehicles.

Many of them assumed Cars Today had gone to ground following the backlash from angry buyers. However, the dealer still appears to be trying to sell cars by using another company.

Teacher Ramachandran Balasubramaniam, 41, was shocked to see his Ssangyong Actyon put up for sale on website sgCarmart on Feb 28 by a dealer he had never heard of, P.M. Motoring Trading.

He had sold the car to Cars Today last December for $37,000, but is still waiting on the company to take over ownership.

Cars Today boss James Poh, 60, had agreed then to take on his car loans of about $29,500 and pay him the difference in cash. But Mr Poh did not resolve the loans or transfer ownership, even after Mr Balasubramaniam made a police report and pursued the matter with the Land Transport Authority (LTA).

Mr Balasubramaniam said of the advertisement: "I recognise my car very well - I've had it for four years. It still has the stickers I put on the back."

After alerting the LTA, Mr Balasubramaniam was contacted on March 18 by P.M.'s owner, Mr Peter Goh, who told him he had put up the ad on behalf of Cars Today.

Mr Balasubramaniam said he later received a phone call from Mr Poh as well. He recalled: "(He) started to threaten me. He said, 'Your car has a lot of issues, I'm going to sue you, I'm going to issue a court order for you to take your car back under the lemon law.'"

He said Mr Poh later sent him a text message saying he would settle the loans by March 27, but this did not transpire.

"The bank has still been calling me to settle the loan. But I want them to go after him instead. I want him to be responsible because he took my car."

When contacted, Mr Goh said he has since removed the ad. He said: "I don't dare sell it any more, I didn't know (Cars Today) had so many problems."

Mr Goh, who has run P.M. for 15 years, said he put the ad up as a "favour" and he is not in physical possession of the Ssangyong.

Other Cars Today buyers identified the mobile number for one of the contact persons, Willian, on P.M.'s sgCarmart ads for the Ssangyong and a Citroen Berlingo, as belonging to Mr Matthew Poh, whom The Straits Times understands is Mr Poh's son and a former Cars Today employee. Calls to this number went unanswered.

When The Straits Times called Mr James Poh, he hung up.

An LTA spokesman said of Cars Today: "As investigations are still ongoing... it is inappropriate to comment."

oliviaho@sph.com.sg


This article was first published on April 18, 2015.
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