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The notion that complaints about cars and dealers are more prevalent in Saudi Arabia than in other countries is not accurate.
In the US alone, consumers regained $98 million in compensation for shoddy cars or lousy services by car dealers last year.
The range of problems is staggering, from clocking mileage to conning buyers on part-exchanged cars.
A dealer in New Jersey advertised that he would take in any old car for $4,000, in part exchange for new cars worth $14,000 or more.
A customer saw a car worth $14,000 and went with his old car and $10,000 to make his purchase.
Yet, the dealer said the car in the advert has been sold and that he has a similar vehicle but its price is $46,000!
The customer complained and a consumer protection agency investigated and found out that the new car was in fact the one advertised and is worth only $20,000.
The agency forced the dealer to sell it for $14,000 as advertised.
In other cases, consumers complained about technical problems in new cars that some dealers refused to put right or refund customers.
Some bought high-mileage cars at inflated prices after dealers set back the meters by thousands of miles.
In the absence of stringent consumer protection agencies, the only useful advice for consumers in the region is the principle of “Buyer Beware” or caveat emptor.
Do your homework before buying a new or used car.
There are published ranking of the most reliable cars — choose one that suits your needs from top of the list.
If buying a used car, take an expert with you to examine the vehicle for condition and valuation.
Also, be aware that there are departments in the ministry of commerce that would be interested in hearing your complaints about your bad consumer experience with cars, or indeed any other goods and services below standards.
Sometimes the only way to get good service is to demand it.
If you have an experience, good or bad, with car buying or servicing, tell us your story and Arab News may feature it.
*Adel Murad is a senior motoring and business journalist, based in London.
Email: [email protected]