Owner of top-of-the-line BMW loses suit over alleged defects

A regional sales manager who sued BMW agent Performance Motors over numerous alleged defects in a $387,100 model, has lost his High Court lawsuit seeking a new car and a refund.

Instead, Mr Chan Chee Kien - the first customer to buy the top-of-the-line 550i from Performance Motors - has to pay the agent $4,700 in storage charges, as it won its countersuit against him for refusing to collect the car from its workshop.

In a 61-page judgment released yesterday dismissing Mr Chan's suit, Justice Chan Seng Onn described his own observations when taken on a test drive for the plaintiff to demonstrate his noise complaints. The judge said he had to strain his ears to detect the "very faint" sound produced when the car went over a hump of a certain shape at a particular speed. "If it was not specifically pointed out to me, I would not have noticed it at all," he said.

The judge rejected Mr Chan's claim that a sales consultant had made fraudulent misrepresentations about the quality and performance of the car to mislead him into buying it.

The judge also rejected his claim that Performance Motors had breached conditions under the Sale of Goods Act. He accepted that the agent had satisfactorily repaired genuine defects without cost to the customer.

Justice Chan said: "I have some sympathy for the plaintiff as he bought an expensive car and he naturally had very high expectations of the level of quietness, comfort and pleasure he should have in driving it.

"It did not meet his subjectively high standards. But that is not the test to determine if he is entitled to reject the car and claim the return of the purchase price."

In May 2010, Mr Chan decided to buy the 550i even though Performance Motors had not brought in the model and did not have a car for him to view or test drive.

He took delivery of the car in August 2010. But from October, he complained of various problems, including a "helicopter-like" sound emanating from the undercarriage when the gear was in "drive" or "reverse" mode.

Over the next 15 months, the car was sent for repair seven times, spending 354 days in the workshop.

But Justice Chan found that the bulk of the 354 days in the workshop was because of Mr Chan's refusal to collect the car, with 72 days spent on troubleshooting and 17 days for actual repair work.

In his suit, Mr Chan listed 16 specific oral representations allegedly made by the sales consultant.

But the judge did not believe that he could recall specific representations "with such incredible detail". He noted that Mr Chan, who had previously bought three other BMWs, was a fairly sophisticated customer who would not rely on sales hyperbole.

Out of at least 30 complaints made by Mr Chan, the judge determined that 18 were not defects and that the other 12 defects had been successfully rectified.

This article was first published on February 28, 2015.
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