Damage disclosure laws 'toothless,' says car buyer

A Selkirk, Man., teenager and his dad are taking Selkirk GMC to court after the dealership failed to follow provincial disclosure laws.

Manitoba dealership breaks law, faces no penalty

Vehicle damage disclosure laws 'toothless,' says car buyer

9 years ago
Duration 1:58
Manitoba teenager and his dad are talking a car dealership to court after it failed to follow provincial disclosure laws.

A Selkirk, Man., teenager and his dad are taking Selkirk GMC to court after the dealership failed to follow provincial disclosure laws.

Josh Wozney, 19, bought a 2008 Chevrolet Malibu in May 2012. The purchase came after the Manitoba government had introduced new disclosure rules, requiring dealerships to disclose many details of a vehicle's history, including any insurance claims netting more than $3,000 in repairs.

Wozney said he was told the Malibu had a clean title.

"Shortly after I got it, there was kind of like a strut noise, like a hollow 'doot, doot, doot,'" he told CBC News.

Bryan, left, and Josh Wozney have taken Selkirk GMC to small claims court, seeking $7,000 in compensation. (CBC)

Wozney said he had a 30-day warranty for the car and turned to Selkirk GMC's service department. That was when he said he noticed a CarProof vehicle history report inside his file at the service counter.

The report indicated the car had undergone a $6,000 insurance claim for hail damage. 

"I felt pretty ripped off," Wozney said. "I felt pretty bad about being a first-time buyer."

Wozney said upon closer inspection, he noticed rust spots on his roof and some minor dents on his door.

He said he is concerned about the vehicle's resale value in light of the claim. His father, Bryan Wozney, is helping him resolve the issue with the dealership.

"I feel that if they would've disclosed the actual damage, we would've made a different decision and probably not actually bought the car," said Bryan Wozney.

Josh Wozney and his dad met with Selkirk GMC and asked the dealership to take the car back.

Dealership accepts responsibility

Selkirk GMC's president and general manager, Don Walters, told CBC News this case was the first and only time his dealership has breached the province's new law.

"We're accepting responsibility that we did not disclose this to the customer. We don't deny that," Walters said in a phone interview.

"It's important, I think, that this was hail damage and not a collision, so the repairs are somewhat cosmetic."

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Walters blamed a "clerical type of oversight" and said his dealership offered Wozney a partial reimbursement of $1,500 as a "good faith gesture."

"We got the vehicle in and it was sold to the customer before it hit the lot, if you will…. The whole thing happened very quickly," Walters said.

"It was simply a clerical type of oversight."

The Wozneys said they felt the dealership's solution was inadequate, so they turned to the Consumer Protection Office, which enforces provincial disclosure laws.

A staff person assigned to mediate the case sent the Wozneys a letter stating that the dealership "does admit that there was a failure to disclose … the hail damage" but that "legislation … does not allow enforcement of either a refund, a trade in or forced repairs."

Bryan Wozney said he's upset with the provincial rules, which he calls "toothless."

"We need more enforcement," he said. "The agency needs power to actually enforce the law so that it doesn't happen again."

The Wozneys have taken the dealership to small claims court, seeking $7,000 in compensation.