A disappointed Wayne Huggins is calling on Minister of Finance Colm Imbert and by extension, the Government, to look into the unscrupulous dealing of some car dealers who are literally hijacking customers with increased prices following the 2018 Budget presentation.
“On September 29 my wife and I visited a San Fernando dealer because we were interested in purchasing a 2017 hybrid Nissan X-Trail.
“We spoke with a sales agent and after viewing what they had in stock we indicated our interest in one and was given an invoice reflecting a price of $275, 000,” Huggins said.
Huggins said during their interaction with the sales agent, his wife inquired if the quoted price was the best they could offer and the agent said she would see if a reduction could be extended to them.
“On Monday my wife decided to call to see if we were getting the vehicle at a reduced price because we were prepared to take the invoice to our bankers. However, the agent informed her that there was a possibility that the price may increase as a result of the budget and that she would get back to us.
“Not having gotten any feedback from the agent, I called the dealer on Wednesday, just two days after the budget presentation, and was informed that management had instructed the sales agents that said morning that the price was now $310,000.
Huggins said the $35,000 increase in the price was absolutely ridiculous and totally unacceptable.
“Based on my understanding of the budget measures with respect to the importation of automobiles, they should not affect vehicles in showroom stock or in transit stock as the new measures kick into effect on October 20.”
He said still interested in the vehicle he called a few other new car dealers only to discover that most of the other dealers (names called) had done the same thing.
“This is madness as firms are seeking to capitalise on excessive profits. Darren Car Sales is the only dealer who said he was not going to increase his prices on vehicles in stock as they would have been imported at and duties paid on prices prior to the reading of the budget.
“But these unscrupulous dealers holding vehicles in stock at the old rates are now applying the new rate announced in the budget to increase the prices on these vehicles. I would like to know if they're going to remit to the Government the difference between the old and new taxes and duties that they will be collecting on their upward adjusted prices. If they don't then they will not only be robbing the customers but the Government as well,” Huggins said.
Huggins called for some form of oversight into the greedy exploitation of citizens by members of the business community.
Express was told on Monday that the manager would return our call when the dealership was contacted, but he has not.
However, Trinidad and Tobago Automobile Dealers Association president Visham Babwah said that while he empathises with what consumers are now faced with, car dealers were placed in a position that left them no alternative.
“We have vehicles sitting in Japan that are already paid for and we cannot ship because of the new tax measures implemented by the Government. At the end of the day we have to take them but when they arrived here the cost will go up by as much as $200,000 per vehicle.
“The vehicle Mr Huggins was supposed to pay $275,000 will now have to be sold for over $400,000, but who is going to buy an X-Trail for over $400,000.”
Babwah said car dealers will have to suffer huge losses by selling those vehicles for around $350,000 if they want to get them off their hands.
“No dealer will be able to absorb such losses so to buffer that fallout some of the increases are being passed on to whatever vehicles already in stock.
“Consumers are attacking the dealers and accusing them of price gouging but they should attack the Government because they created this situation by placing the tax at such a high rate and implementing it with immediate effect.
“If they (consumers) cannot understand that the dealers have to offset the increased costs they are now faced with then they would have to pay considerably much more when new shipments come in.
Babwah said it's not fair to target car dealers since what is happening is beyond their control.
“We are calling on the Government to rescind their decision because it's not only unfair to us but also to consumers,” Babwah said.