A customer of a Winnipeg used car dealership wants the company to take back the car he bought after learning it had major damage that the dealer did not disclose.
Trevor Levasseur, 25, was shopping for his first car when he saw a Volkswagen Jetta on the lot of the The Car Store on Main Street.
He approached the dealer, who told him they had the same model in better condition that they could finance for him, even though he couldn't qualify for a car loan at a bank.
He said a salesperson showed him a white 2008 Volkswagen, priced at $10,900.
“It looked good at the time. I know they are reliable,” Levasseur told CBC News.
“I really loved this car when I got it. It was my baby.”
Levasseur said the dealership showed him a CarFax report that showed a clean vehicle history with no accidents. He signed a financing agreement totalling $14,000 with 29.9 per cent interest for six years.
While leaving the lot, Levasseur said an inside piece of the door panel fell off. The salesperson offered to get him a new one, and he said he didn’t think anything of the incident.
“What made me confident was the CarFax that they showed me,” he said.
“They were really nice guys. They told me that they were a family-oriented place, and that made me feel comfortable.”
Shock at another dealership
Levasseur went to a local Volkswagen dealership six months after the sale to trade in his car towards the purchase of a newer vehicle.
He said he was looking for lower interest, and the dealer asked him what he wanted for the trade.
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“I only bought it six months ago, so I would like to get close to what I paid for it,” Levasseur recalled telling the salesperson.
“He was like, 'Are you kidding me?'”
The salesperson showed Levasseur a CarProof report that listed $19,562 of damages due to two collisions. Both occurred in Saskatchewan within the last four years.
“My jaw dropped,” Levasseur said.
“Anyone with a brain would never buy a car that has $20,000 worth of damage…. I was pissed.”
Bill Levasseur, Trevor’s father, said he phoned The Car Store numerous times in a bid to settle the matter.
After the dealership stopped returning his calls, he said he decided to confront them in person and went there to record an undercover video.
Car Store claims it wasn't aware of damage
The video shows a conversation last December in which a salesperson tells Bill Levasseur the dealership only has to disclose if the car was a write-off or an out-of-province car.
Provincial legislation enacted in December 2011 requires all auto dealers to disclose accidents over $3,000. Bill Levasseur said he was surprised that the salesperson didn’t know about that obligation.
At one point in the video, the salesperson — whom CBC News is not identifying — argues that The Car Store didn’t know about the damage and relied on the CarFax report.
“We can only go by the information that we are supplied,” the salesperson said. “And we dealt in good faith based on the information we were supplied.”
CBC News contacted Tony Panidisz, the manager of The Car Store and president of the Manitoba Used Car Dealers Association Canada.
Panidisz declined to comment on the Levasseur family’s experience at his dealership, but said he also relied on the CarFax report for damage disclosures on the vehicle he sold him.
“I didn't manipulate the CarFax. The CarFax says what it says,” he said.
CBC News checked with CarFax, which said it did not have the information about the damages at the time.
An official with CarFax said it has updated the file after receiving that information.
The CarProof report on the Jetta also revealed that the vehicle came from Saskatchewan and had been bought at auction in British Columbia — announced as an “accident repair."
Trevor Levasseur said that the experience left him with one valuable lesson — and a car that he can’t get his money back for.
“My grandma taught me, though I didn't listen to her in this case, that you should always take it to a mechanic," he said.
“The bank never would have financed it. I never would have bought it," he added.
“I just want my money back.”