Another car firm leaves buyers high and dry

Another car parallel importer has failed to deliver vehicles on which deposits have been paid - the second such case in less than a month.

TLC Cars Singapore, one of several small motor firms in Turf City, off Bukit Timah Road, has closed its doors, leaving customers in the lurch.

The development comes barely a month after Exodus Global, a parallel importer in Ubi Avenue 3, did the same thing.

Like those affected by Exodus' move, customers of TLC have lodged police reports. Police said they are looking into the matter.

Logistics manager W.Y. So, 33, said he chanced upon TLC Cars in July, and decided to buy a brand new Toyota Harrier sport utility vehicle from it for $137,800. Since then, he has paid up just over $55,000 in deposits, but has yet to secure delivery of the car. After repeated assurances by the company and as many postponements, he filed a police report on Oct 27.

Asked why he decided to buy a car from a relatively unknown firm, Mr So said it was a "random" choice. "Its price seemed all right," he said. "And it had newspaper clippings on its wall." Asked how he felt about the prospect of not getting the car or his money back, Mr So said: "I'll have to suck it up. There's nothing much I can do."

The Straits Times understands that at least 10 customers are affected by the TLC episode, while more than 20 have been affected by the Exodus Global case.

Individual consumers are not the only ones facing losses. Fellow motor company Auto Lease has also made a police report against TLC.

TLC, it said, bought a Honda Vezel from it for about $36,000 (before COE). TLC paid about $6,000, took delivery of the car, but has made no further payment.

Mr Anthony Lim, a partner in Auto Lease, added that his firm had also secured several certificates of entitlement (COEs) on TLC's behalf.

Auto Lease was also affected by Exodus Global's closure. In total, Mr Lim said Auto Lease had paid $310,000 in COE deposits on behalf of Exodus Global and TLC.

Mr Raymond Tang, first vice-president of the Singapore Vehicle Traders Association, said cases such as TLC's are "not new".

Indeed, the industry sees similar cases almost yearly. The biggest in recent years involved Volks Auto, which misappropriated some $4.6 million in deposits in 2014.

Mr Tang said consumers should patronise "respectable firms with long track records to be safe". Even better, go to CaseTrust-accredited dealers, he said. "Most times, they get into trouble because they go for the lowest prices," he said.

TLC managing director Timothy Gay was uncontactable for comment.

This article was first published on Nov 04, 2016.
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