ALBERTA

Canadian Auto Market Online Vehicle Sales Called A Ripoff

02/04/2015 05:00 EST | Updated 04/06/2015 05:59 EDT
Canadian Auto Market
Canadian Auto Market​, a U.S.-based internet vehicle sales company, is being accused of ripping off clients.

The Alberta Motor Vehicle Industry Council (AMVIC)​ is looking into whether the company is violating the Fair Trading Act by selling without a licence.

Canadian Auto Market is not licensed in Alberta, but its website, Canadianautomarket.com, contains listings from around the province.​

LahcenAmzoug of Edmonton says a salesman from Canadian Auto Market told him he had buyers lined up for his 2008 Mazda 3 at a price higher than what he was initially seeking.

Amzoug said he paid the company $576 after being told he could expect the car to be sold within two weeks.

Six months later, he hadn’t received a single offer, Amzoug said.

Similar stories have been posted on internet sites from consumers complaining about Canadian Auto Market.

"This is a pure scam. I paid money and I didn’t receive the service," Amzoug said.

Canadian Auto Market said the terms of its contract are clear: it guarantees to list a vehicle until it’s sold and that after three days the fee is non-refundable.

'All of a sudden it’s a hard car to sell​'

Amzoug advertised his Mazda on Kijiji in July 2014, listing it for $12,500.

A week later someone identifying himself as Mike Bradley telephoned to say he was a senior manager with Canadian Auto Market, Amzoug said.

Bradley told him Canadian Auto Market is a financing company and had several buyers lined up for cars like his, he said.

"I said great, yes, that’s what I want."

He said Bradley told him Canadian Auto Market would list his car for $13,200 and that he could expect the car to sell within two weeks.

Amzoug agreed and signed a contract electronically.

After a month he was told the first buyer’s financing had fallen through, he said. After three months, he was told it was a difficult car to sell.

"They told me it’s a great car — ‘We have people lined up’ — and all of a sudden it’s a hard car to sell."

Six months after paying Canadian Auto Market, he called and asked for his money back. He was again told there were many interested buyers, but that they were having trouble getting financing.

Amzoug said what made him really angry — and want to Go Public — was when the company suggested he place his own ad on Kijiji.

He did that and sold the car himself — for free.

‘Superior service our No. 1 priority’

Go Public called Canadian Auto Market’s only contact number and asked to speak with a senior manager.

Jason Carter said he was based in Kelowna, B.C., and that Canadian Auto Market is a U.S. company that connects sellers with buyers by cold-calling people who advertise their vehicles online.

"We get a pool of buyers and once the demand is big enough we go out and try to find that vehicle and list it with us and try to facilitate the sale that way," Carter said.

"We’ll offer 50 [auto sale] websites, or 40 or 30 whatever, and then we’ll list [the vehicle] on these websites, help provide exposure, that sort of thing," he said.

When asked specifically about Amzoug’s case, Carter accused Go Public of "making a rock into a mountain" and requested our questions be put in writing.

​Canadian Auto Market then sent Amzoug an email threatening to sue him for defamation in an Ontario court if he told his story publicly, claiming it had already credited him a full refund, less a processing fee.

Amzoug denies he was offered anything beyond a free listing for his next car and $300 in restaurant vouchers.

He dismissed the company’s legal threats, saying he wanted to warn people by telling his story.

"I didn’t take them seriously. To me it was a desperate move," Amzoug said.

Canadian Auto Market did not respond to further interview requests, but in a series of unsigned emails the company said its contract allows cancellation and a refund within three days — less $149.99 — and that any claims about how quickly a vehicle would sell were simply an example and not a promise.

The company said its contract guarantees it will advertise "until the vehicle is sold one way or another" and that it was Amzoug who broke the contract by selling his car on his own.

The company said "superior customer service is our number 1 priority and is affirmed by our reputation including 100 per cent positive feedback."

Not licensed by provincial authorities

The company did not respond to repeated requests for its address and the name of its parent company.

Carter said Canadian Auto Market is licensed to sell vehicles in British Columbia, but not in Alberta, where he said the company limits its service to advertising.

Authorities said Canadian Auto Market does not have a licence in either province, and there is no business licence registered in its name with municipalities in the Kelowna region.

The Better Business Bureau of Central and Northern Alberta says it began receiving local complaints about the company in November 2014. It gives the company an "F" rating.

The Alberta Motor Vehicle Industry Council says it is looking at Canadian Auto Market’s practices to determine whether it’s breaking Alberta law by not having a licence.

"If they truly are in the automotive business, they need to be licensed with us and trained so the consumer has some protection," said John Bachinski, AMVIC’s executive director.

Bachinski said that AMVIC had just started its investigation, but it does appear Canadian Auto Market is doing business in Alberta.

Amzoug has reported the $576 transaction to his credit card company and is hoping it will reverse the charge, though there’s no guarantee it will.

"To be honest with you, at this point I don’t even think that I could get my money back from these guys, but I don’t want this to happen to other people," he said.

"I just wanted to get the word out so other people won’t be scammed as well."

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